Cagezilla 58 - A Fighter's Recap

Cagezilla 58 - A Fighter's Recap

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Cagezilla 58 - A Fighter's Recap

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At the helm of Mixed Martial arts in the DC metro region resides Cagezilla. There are several promotions for MMA, Muay Thai, Jiu Jitsu, and other combat sports in the area, but Cagezilla seems to be the most talked-about in the amateur circuit. Jeff Wylde’s brainchild gives local fighters a platform to showcase their talent, hard work, and to make a name for themselves before diving headfirst into the professional MMA circuit to promotions like Shogun Fights, Bellator, and many others.

Many casual fans don’t realize just how much goes into this sport, but trust me when I say there are layers. Within the onion that is the MMA community, there is an overlying theme that sets it apart from every other sport. That theme is the sense of accessibility. Even in semi-pro baseball, football, or basketball, each player is not typically an everyman. These are specimens – individuals who have played these sports since they were a fetus. However, with MMA, the guy in the cage fighting at 155 could be your FedEx delivery guy, your kid’s teacher, or even your own brother. Not to take away from the athleticism or absolute dedication needed to succeed in this sport, but since it’s not a team sport – it’s pretty much open to anyone who will put the wrench time into training. That’s what MMA gives us – an ability to see previously untapped potential of someone who thought they had peaked in high school. You likely can’t go out and try to play for the Wizards right now, but you can train for a couple years and maybe have your coach put you into a fight.

For the foreseeable future, I’ll be brining you recaps of local fight promotions and hopefully helping to grow the interest in this sport and highlighting its amazing athletes, coaches, gyms, and culture.

Let’s dive into the Cagezilla that almost didn’t happen.

Before a fight card can happen, there has to be committed fighters. It takes a lot to wrap your head around strapping on 4 ounce gloves, entering a fenced-in octagon, facing someone who wants to take your head off, and that’s not even mentioning the hours upon hours of training, sacrificed calories, weight cuts, un-drank beers, and miles run in preparation for 3 two-minute rounds of blood and fury. Did I mention you don’t get paid? Minor detail.

Many times for these events, fighters pull out at the last second for some reason or another, whether it be an injury, missed weight cut, or sickness. When enough fighters do this leading up to an event, it potentially won’t generate enough individual fights to justify the expense of putting on the promotion. In the case of Cagezilla 58, they had to pull out all the stops. There were four total fight cancellations before the event, which was over half the card. In an effort to save the promotion and not give the snip to the fighters who worked so hard to train for it, Capital MMA and Elite Fitness provided two exciting grappling matches with their own fighters facing off against each other.

Grappling is misunderstood by many, but enjoyed by all. The format is simple – you get 8 minutes to get as many submissions as you can, and the one with the most is the winner. Simple rules, difficult fight.

These two bouts supplied us with some spectacular submissions and crowd-pleasing throws. Believe it or not, there was even a Steve Austin-like Stone Cold Stunner thrown in.

Photo Credit – Joshua Hurst

After both grappling events were done, the promotion moved on to the main fights. First bout was Diego Vargas Vs. Jayden Hall. Diego was making his debut as an amateur and Hall was attempting to bounce back from his previous loss to the now undefeated Emmanuel Thompson who handed him a TKO in round two just a few months prior. Hall looked poised and ready, weighing in at the same class as before, but sporting a much more muscular frame. Hall fights out of DCBMMA and he and his coach clearly did a lot of interim training on both his endurance and his defense. Hall and Vargas both came out with maximum energy and carried it through all three rounds. What Hall lacked in reach over Vargas he made up for in speed and striking power. Vargas took full advantage of his wrestling background as well as his reach, landing several leg kicks as well as keeping his opponent on the ground when he wanted to control the pace.

Photo Credit – Joshua Hurst

First round went to Vargas who displayed excellent ground control and striking. The second round spent much more time with the fighters on their feet, and Hall seemed to even the score. The judges were split on the second round, but it could have been anyone’s game with Hall leaving Vargas with a bloody nose going into round 3. In the final round, Vargas was able to take things back to the ground with several crowd-pleasing slams and takedowns. Both fighters gave their all and the unanimous decision went to Vargas who walked away with his first win.  

Photo Credit – Joshua Hurst

Although the fight didn’t go Hall’s way, look for him to come out with everything to prove and nothing to lose in his next fight at 145. At his height, he will be shorter than your average 145 lb fighter, but a cut to 135 might take away his strength and be too difficult a cut for him. As for Vargas, the future is bright for this young man who has taken his wrestling background, utilized his athleticism, and improved his Muay Thai Technique to be a fighter who can outlast you as well as beat you on the ground or on your feet. 145 is the perfect weight class for this promising young fighter.

Photo Credit: Joshua Hurst

The 160lb fight of Robbie Jones Vs. Josh Ashiru was an interesting bout to say the least. Both fighters gave a great performance and both came to brawl. In the amateur circuit, most fighters come from a specific gym and represent that gym directly. In return for their representation and monthly membership dues, they are coached, cornered, and supported in their progress by the coaches at that gym. The bond between a fighter and their gym is very sacred and all fights need to be booked, set up, and found by the coaches. Fighters just don’t set up their own fights. However, in the case of Josh Ashiru, he is his own gym. There are a few independent fighters who train and take fights, and the sentiment from most coaches I’ve spoken to is that they wish those fighters would find a good gym instead of fighting as an independent, because in the DMV, there are plenty of good gyms to attend. Regardless, Ashiru showed up without a corner. No one put an ice pack on his back in-between rounds, no one gave him water while he rested his arms, and no one coached him on what to do differently. Typically, this would be a set up for disaster, but Ashiru came to play and put it all on the mat. Both fighters displayed tenacity and heart, and the win ultimately went to Robbie Jones by decision. Jones proved to be dominant, but looking at Ashiru’s endurance, physique, and technique, he should prove to do well in this circuit, and even better if he links up with a good coach and gym.

The main event was one that 135 lb Capital MMA fighter Nick Ingle had been looking forward to for a long time. Battling injuries, fighters pulling out of previous fights, and fights being cancelled, Nick has gone through at least two full fight camps without being able to actually step foot in the cage. Just entering the octagon for him was the culmination of a lot of hard work and effort. Anyone who has seen Ingle work out knows he’s a hard worker who puts everything on the line. And anyone who has seen his opponent Matthew Lamb fight knows that his stand-up game is nothing to sleep on. Lamb comes from Kaizen MMA, and they always bring great fighters in both MMA and Muay Thai events. Capital MMA and Kaizen both have a reputation for producing elite fighters, hence why a fight with one man with an 0-1 record fighting an untested man with an 0-0 record was the main event.

Photo Credit – Joshua Hurst

Although this was the shortest fight of the night, and the only TKO of the night, it was one of the more exciting outings in recent Cagezilla promotions. Both fighters came out with both guns blazing, and oddly enough, huge smiles on their faces. There was no time to dance around and feel out the range – they both came out to fight. Both Ingle and Lamb landed hard punches early on, and Lamb’s quick hands tried to ward off the aggressive low and mid kicks of the slightly shorter Ingle. The first round was a great showing of what MMA fights should be – a perfect mixture of clinch, grappling, and hard striking. Ingle landed some devastating shots, but Lamb was able to land a stiff left through Ingle’s peekaboo guard, sending Ingle to the mat, semi-conscious but still fighting. Although Ingle was out, he still somehow kept swinging and defending himself. When I spoke to him after the fight, he stated, “I saw a flash and thought, ‘oh no.’ And I guess muscle memory just took over and I kept fighting.” Referee Michael Doleman called a stop to the contest within a few seconds.

Photo Credit – Joshua Hurst

One noteworthy aspect of this fight was the level of class and sportsmanship displayed by both fighters. After Ingle came to, he immediately stood up, hugged Lamb, and raised his hand for the crowd to cheer, and then clapped for his opponent. Ingle never stopped smiling even after a pretty substantial knockout. Look for big things from both fighters. Lamb is now 1-1 and will likely be looking for his next fight soon. His length and striking ability are formidable to say the least. Additionally, Ingle will no doubt be back soon to take on his second opponent. His quick striking and raw power combined with his no-quit mentality and heart are going to be huge assets for him as he ramps up for his next fight. To quote Ref Doleman, “Idunno…this man is just crazy”.

Photo Credit – Joshua Hurst

As fans, we love to see a little crazy. We also love to see good sportsmanship. In this promotion, we received both in droves. In all, it was a great night of combat sports that almost didn’t happen. The more we support, show up, and come out to these events, the more we support local athletes who either are trying to make a name for themselves, or simply want to test themselves against difficult odds. Either way, MMA is growing in the DMV and it doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon.

On behalf of the All Pro Reels team, thanks for reading. Stay tuned to our youtube channel for a video recap of Cagezilla 58 coming soon.

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