By: Albert Miller – If all goes according to plan, in about forty years, I’ll be accepting my Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Commentary Broadcasting (hey, you have to put it out there if its ever going to happen). In my acceptance speech, I’m going to open up about a sleepy mountain town and the fight circuit that came from that town that made me that man I’ve become. That sleepy town is Altoona, Pennsylvania and that fight circuit is Complete Devastation MMA (CDMMA).
Since leaving the Keystone State, I’ve been reminiscing about the work I did with CDMMA. I get to thinking about how much fun the pre-fight and post-fight gatherings were, of the warriors who gave their all inside the cage. As far as you or I can tell, CDMMA is gone, but certainly not forgotten; not forgotten as long as I have a platform to tell the story and as long as you all will listen. For this week’s Friday 5ive, we’re counting down 5 fighters who were battle tested for CDMMA, and who could still lace up the gloves and make a go at it.
Note: This list is counting down fighters who have not publicly declared retirement (to my knowledge). This list is an opinion, and not definitive.
No. 5: Jason Royer – What I find the most interesting about fighters from the Central PA area, especially those who fight as amateurs, is how they are able to separate themselves from their “at rest” personalities and turn into absolute war machines. The first fight that I ever called for Jason Royer was at CDMMA 5, the same event that Cory “The Real Deal” Hill main evented. In meeting Royer, I saw a guy who was in the middle of a weight cut, and he was showing no signs of being in distress (in Pennsylvania, Amateurs weigh in the day of. Royer still had another 12 hours to cut weight). Jason Royer was willing to open up and talk about how the cut was going, how he planned to fight, and he was a regular guy that you’d play pool with at McGarvey’s. When Jason stepped into the cage against Jesse Busfield the next night, he had tripped a mental trigger that had him ready for war. Depending on who you ask will get you a different answer as to who had the advantage in the fight. Jesse Busfield is an excellent striker, but Jason Royer’s tenacity could not be denied; the fight ended with a cut above Royer’s eye. The next bout is another that ended in controversy: when Jason Royer took on Doug “The Thug” Haupt, Royer had shot in for an excellent take down, and landed. Referee Bill Bookwalter stopped the fight because Royer hadn’t responded to instruction, it’s still argued whether or not Royer was out or just didn’t hear Bookwalter. Ultimately, the referee is more responsible for a fighter’s life than the commentary team; as much as we may have disagreed about it, Bill Bookwalter made the right call. Jason Royer had two more fights after that and hasn’t fought since 2013. Now, Royer is close to 36, the magic age for Pennsylvania to require more thorough pre-fight testing; however, Ohio and Virginia are still viable options to fight. I saw Jason Royer at a boxing match at the Penn State University, the man is still in great shape and could throw down.
No. 4: Levi McCord – In high school, I had a really close friend named Matt, and Matt was a mad man. Matt was very involved with the local Tang Soo Do school in the town we lived, would often travel to competitions, and was very athletic. As we’d hang around Matt’s house, he’d often speak very highly of his cousin Levi. It wasn’t until many years later at CDMMA 5 when I saw Matt’s brother Jon, that I put two and two together. Cousin Levi was Levi McCord, and after his bout at CDMMA 3, was on a hot streak. Levi McCord and I come from the same part of the world; an area where you work hard, and you enjoy your weekends even harder. The first time I’d met Levi (and his dad), you could tell that we came from the very same valley. Those who have seen Levi fight know that he’s not a man who does a lot of talking; he’s never grabbing the mic to talk smack, he’s not calling anyone out on Facebook, and he’s not picking fights in public. What makes Levi McCord such a salt-of-the-Earth kind of guy is that he communicates his ability through one language: sanctioned prize fighting. If you compare Levi’s last two fights: at CDMMA 3, he’d earned a decision victory over Stephen Devine. The bout with Devine was a slugfest, a “what did you say about my mom?” slugfest; a slugfest that McCord was able to get the best of. The second bout was at CDMMA 5, where he dropped a decision loss to Ryan Kloepping. If you watch that fight, you’ll know that there is no loser in that bout. Kloepping dropped McCord so hard to the cage floor, spine first, that the cage floor actually broke. Levi McCord broke a cage floor, with his spine, and continued to fight. Those are the feats of heroism that make great stories to tell; truly, one of my favorite to recollect. Levi McCord is only twenty four years old, younger than some guys starting their careers. Levi is also maintaining his shape and conditioning; should he chose, I’m sure McCord could step back into the cage and continued to kick ass.
No. 3: Paul “P-Mac” McAleer – In Altoona, there are a handful of fighters that will illicit cheers of an ear splitting magnitude from the audience in attendance. As Paul “P-Mac” McAleer was having his hand raised in victory over Edward Lee, the Blair County Convention center was having its foundation rocked by the rhythmic chanting of “P-Mac! P-Mac! P-Mac!” Drew (Shannon, ring announcer & Cage Nation TV co-founder) even dubbed the crowd “P-Mac-A-Maniacs.” I can tell you, that for me, Paul McAleer is the embodiment of “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Paul McAleer fought at a lower weight, is gentle spoken, and is friendly. The man who fought Edward Lee possessed a raw power that liberated Lee from the confines of gravity, and then sent him crashing back down to the mat (in an advantageous position for McAleer, of course). Had the fight gone to the judges, I’m certain that McAleer would have been awarded the first round; the fight didn’t go to the judges, in the second round, McAleer scored a rear naked choke victory over Canada’s own Edward Lee. That fight was the first for McAleer, it was a good showing and clearly he had an ability that was being honed by Dignan-Brumbaugh MMA. Paul McAleer would then go on to face Jonathan Coffman at World Cagefighting Championships 6 (for those keeping track at home: I have the honor of being the commentator for both of P-Mac’s fights. The video is lost to the abyss, and I’m sure I’ll never see them). Coffman came into the fight with McAleer, having a reputation as a Tae Kwon Do fighter. With such a reputation, I have to believe that the McAleer camp was assuming that Coffman’s hands and feet were dangerous. It would be exceptionally irresponsible to not train for a ground war, it is mixed martial arts after all. The fight ended with McAleer and Coffman in dueling calf slicers. It was a tough fight, but McAleer was awarded the decision victory. That would be the last time that Paul McAleer would fight (June, 2013). As much as he is a warrior, he is also a family man. Paul McAleer has welcomed a new child into the world, he just bought a house, and he has a beautiful family. He is also, only thirty years of age. If the environment was right to compete, if his family would be better for the experience, I’m sure P-Mac would give it a good consideration.
No. 2: Clark Young – Clark Young recently welcomed a daughter into the world. That daughter will grow up, begin to date, and may even have someone break up with her …may the good Lord have mercy upon that poor bastard’s soul. Clark Young is a big, strong man who has imposed his ill will and bad intentions on his opponents in the cage. For one reason or another (the drinking water, I suspect), Pennsylvania doesn’t have an abundance of heavyweights. Despite not having a plethora of heavies, the heavies that are there are top quality fighters. My first experience with an MMA promotion was working the camera for CDMMA; the first bout that I videoed was Clark Young vs. Zack Byrd. The funny thing about potential energy is that the more mass that exists is relative to the potential energy (and ultimately kinetic energy) that can be utilized. Clark Young and Zack Byrd were two big boys that were throwing around massive bodies and throwing very heavy hands. As a big boy myself, I learned quickly in that opening bout to stay alert and be ready to brace myself. Young would compete at CDMMA 2, 3, and 4, remaining undefeated on the promotions cards. I was in attendance for Clark Young’s bout against OJ Vickers. The new advanced amateur rules had just gone into effect, it was still uncertain if Vickers vs. Young qualified; Clark Young told us after the fight that he and OJ were both fine with advanced amateur rules, he’d fight the man under any rules. Clark Young was able to defeat OJ Vickers via kimura, and hasn’t fought since (2013). In his time off, Clark Young has been building a family, and serving our country. At one point, Clark Young had expressed his interest in possibly boxing. According to social media, Young may be training again and could be gearing up for a return. One thing is certain: with heavyweights like Adam Milstead getting signed by the UFC, and Nathan Bryant making waves for King of the Cage, the Pennsylvania markets are ready to welcome new heavyweights to their radars. The time to return couldn’t be better for Clark Young, the competition is out there. Clark Young is only thirty years old, the man has youth and resiliency on his side of he chose.
No. 1: Tyler “The Daywalker” Saltsman – Cody “No Love” Garbrandt is going to be getting a UFC title shot soon. The road that lead “No Love” to the largest MMA promotion in the planet began in Ohio, and along the way, he had a bout with Penn State athlete Tyler “The Daywalker” Saltsman. Complete Devastation MMA only ran for twelve events, and of those twelve, Tyler Saltsman vs. Charlie “The Madman” Gathers had to have been the most hyped main event in CDMMA history. The history between the two was storied, it was bitter. Gathers and Saltsman was supposed to meet in Boalsburg for Mayhem on the Mountain, but Gathers didn’t feel that an outdoors fight was right for him, and that’s where the grudge began. World Cagefighting Championships had then booked “The Daywalker” vs. “The Madman,” but then the card had to be cancelled due to a lot of last minute injuries. It would seem that Tyler Saltsman and Charlie Gathers would never get the opportunity to throw hands at each other. One man’s loss is often another’s gain, and Jason Davis (former president of CDMMA) swooped in to sign the main event of CDMMA 7; Tyler “The Daywalker” Saltsman would fight Charlie “The Madman” Gathers. I first met Tyler Saltsman at Titan Fitness in State College, PA. It was located across the alley from my dayjob at the time, I even had a membership. Walking into the gym, I got a good look at Saltsman working out, he was clearly preparing for the bout. Aside from his natural athletic ability, Tyler’s confidence in Tyler is what makes the man interesting to watch. It’s Tyler Saltsman’s ability to be so confident in himself that it almost comes across as arrogant that sells tickets. Saltsman is a good guy to talk to, he’s very mellow if he’s not in ticket sales mode. Tyler Saltsman did get the victory over Charlie Gathers, and the beef was crushed right there in the cage. Saltsman vs. Gathers was the pro debuts for both guys, and it was in the main event. Tyler’s pro debut was his last fight, in 2012. Since his victory at CDMMA 7, Tyler Saltsman has moved to the West, has been serving the US Military and living every day on his terms. Saltsman is only twenty-seven years old; he has the natural ability to pour on the gas on a pro fighting career if he were to chose to.
- Charlie Gathers was not eligible as he is still in active competition
- Ryan “Goose Lee” Glunt was not eligible, as he served as the main match maker for the promotion
- Rich “The Raging Bull” Cantolina was not eligible as he is an active boxing competitor
Thank you for joining me for this stroll down memory lane. The area and that particular fight promotion means a lot to me. Getting to work with CDMMA has set me in a direction that I never knew I wanted to travel. For that, they’ll always have my gratitude.
Until next time: Fights, Cameron, Action!