By: Albert Cameron – Being a fight commentator is one part voice marathon, three parts preparation, and one part keeping your reactions in check. You practice your delivery, warm up your voice, prepare a ream of notes weeks ahead of time; keeping your reactions in check? Not as easy as it may sound. For this week’s Friday 5ive, I’m counting down five moments where I almost lost my cool on the microphone out of sheer surprise.
Note: these are just five moments plucked straight out of my memory. They are in no way any definitive list of any sort.
No. 5: Amateur Boxer wins fight by obscure choke technique. Osahon Omo-Osagie, or Os as his students would call him, walked into the Jaffa Mosque in Altoona, PA (Complete Devastation MMA 9) with exactly one prior fight under his belt. Before Os began the journey that a mixed martial artist will take, he was an amateur boxer for Lock Haven University. More recently than that, he was the boxing coach for Titan Fitness (the gym that Tyler “The Daywalker” Saltsman, Mike Putnam, and Ethan “The Wolverine” Goss had called home), and was storied to have quick hands and matching head movements. In preparing my notes for Omo-Osagie’s fight with Josh Lear, I didn’t have much to go on other than word of mouth reputation and his proven track record of training guys with heavy hands. As the cage door closed, the bout became ready to begin, many expected Omo-Osagie to start implementing the sweet science of boxing, perhaps looking for a knock-out. Within :55 of round one, Omo-Osagie had defeated Josh Lear by North-South Choke (or 69 choke). The choke, believed by some to be a positional pressure technique, was pretty uncommon in Pennsylvania at the time. Who’d have thought? A fighter, relying on boxing experience, having superior ground game and securing a fight-finishing choke.
No. 4: Hometown favorite gets booed by large crowd. As a broadcast professional, one always runs the risk of carrying the label of “homer,” or someone who carries a big home town bias. In the sake of being partial, there is no question that during Altoona, PA’s MMA hay-day that the Dignan-Brumbaugh MMA fight team were practically local celebrities. “Lenny” Karlheim has received some of the biggest pops I’ve heard, Charlie “The Madman” Gathers still has people going out of their way to tell him how much they enjoyed his fights, and a lot of the locally worn fight apparel had the Dignan-Brumbaugh logo on it. With all of that considered, when Brad “The Machine Gun” Mountain made his way to the cage to fight Jeff Smith at Complete Devastation MMA 8, a large part of the crowd actually booed Mountain. Let’s offer a little prospective: Mountain had transplanted to the Southern States, wasn’t technically a Dignan-Brumbaugh fighter at the time, and was going through something of a personal beef with another local fighter at the time. I’ve heard stories, speculation, but never thought that a personal difference in the gym would be so amplified by a crowd like that. I don’t mean a single boo, I don’t mean a few people, I mean dozens of people were jeering Brad “The Machine Gun” Mountain. Brad Mountain is a warrior with a tough exterior; it wouldn’t be the last time Mountain ever fought in Altoona and has moved on to other promotions and combat sports to stake his claim in.
No. 3: Blood flying at me (from a man’s broken nose). There are a few people who can tell you that they’ve come in contact with Brandon Laney’s blood; his mother, his doctor perhaps, and Albert Cameron. I’ve had my table bled on before (the first time was in Clearfield, PA), but not quite with the fervor of “Old Faithful” like Brandon Laney provided. At Complete Devastation MMA 9, Brandon Laney had drawn Justin Johnston as an opponent, and I need to be extremely clear: those two had a fight that most fighters would be extremely proud of. The bout was an exchange of blows and Rocky Balboa-esque drama of “Who’s going to drop first?” During the bout, Johnston had pressured Laney up against the cage and was working strikes to the body and head. A cut had opened on the bridge of Laney’s nose and blood had begun to stream profusely. Laney’s head dropped and Johnston countered with either a hook or upper cut and landed flush on Laney’s nose. The force of the strike and the ease of the blood flow had sent a sneeze like flow of crimson onto the commentary table. I’ve been bled on since, but not quite as bad as Laney. It was a good time.
No. 2: Ultimate Fighter veteran wins fight, building nearly comes unglued. I was remembering Corey “The Real Deal” Hill tonight, remembering how really humble he was to come from fighting in the bright lights of Las Vegas and then coming to Altoona, PA and still fighting like he had the fire and hunger to be a contender. I remember watching him on the Ultimate Fighter, under the guidance of guest coach Jeremy Horn, and then being able to reconcile that memory with Corey. I’m sure he’d had people relay it to him a hundred times, but he was still polite enough to humor me with it. CDMMA matchmakers had lined up Corey Hill to fight Darryl Madison for the CDMMA 5 main event. The problem with fighting Corey Hill was that he was extremely lanky for the divisions he’d fought in; even as he moved up to welterweight to fight Madison, he still had a dangerous reach. When you have lanky limbs like Corey Hill had, some submissions just become easier than they are for other people. Corey Hill had put Darryl Madison to sleep with a D’Arce choke and referee Chip Snider called an end to the fight. The real mayhem ensued after the fight decision was declared. From the crowd’s perspective, all they saw was Corey Hill apply a choke and Chip stop the fight; even from the announce table, we didn’t fully see what went on. Wave of boos began to wash over the Blair County Convention center, people became restless. Amongst the restless were Darryl Madison’s manager and Corey Hill’s manager, they began to argue loudly. In my time working for Complete Devastation MMA, Bill Maloney became known as one of the kindest men I’ve ever gotten to know; I also know that when Bill is standing between two men, danger is imminent. Everyone escaped the Blair County Convention center safely. To this day, we remember Corey Hill fondly and hope that the Hill family has found peace and strength after his passing.
No. 1: Heavy underdog leaps to the main stage via head kick. The MMA world at large probably knows the names Darrell “the Saint” Horcher and George “Lights Out” Sheppard. Before Horcher was a Bellator veteran and Cage Fury Fighting Championship champion, “the Saint” met M-1 Global veteran George Sheppard in Altoona, PA. Sheppard had the experience, he had the conditioning, gas tank, all of those buzzwords that fight fans get excited about when we talk about fights and match ups. Horcher, however, only had four pro fights to his name and three of those fights were for the same local promotion. On paper, Darrell Horcher had a slim chance, if any. The bell rings and two professional athletes begin a fight. While the fight was good and not boring by any stretch, the finish actually eclipses the finesse and technique of the rest of the fight. With a perfectly placed head kick in the second round, Darrell “The Saint” Horcher sends George “Lights Out” Sheppard crashing to the mat. Anyone who fights has an exact punchers chance of winning or losing, that is the unshakable truth of combat sports. The unintended consequence of his victory over Sheppard was that Horcher was launched into a much larger scope of notice, signing with Bellator and fighting for CFFC’s championship. After the fight, Sheppard had been rocked hard, not aware of where he was or what day it was. Sheppard has since made a full recovery.
Thank you for joining us this week on CageNationTV.com. Friday also means PODCAST DAY! Make sure you check out the Prize Fight Podcast. Until next time; Fights, Cameron, Action!