By: Albert Miller – Do you remember when you first discovered Google Earth, a program that would literally give you access to any satellite image on the planet, what did you do with it? Did you scale Mt. Fuji? Walk along the Great Wall of China? Likely, you looked up your house and your high school, like I did.
Recently, I’ve been surfing through UFC: Fight Pass to see how many of the local fighters I’ve met over the years could be found. Doing such a thing is the equivalent of Google Earth’ing your home address and see what comes up. Full disclosure: I was very pleasantly surprised. To celebrate the achievement (which no one but I will celebrate), I’m counting down five of my favorites.
Note: Fighters that have been signed to UFC contracts are exempt; Chris Dempsey, Cody Garbrandt, Jim Alers, Jordan Rinaldi, etc will not appear on this list. Also, this week’s list is not ranked, just in the order that I’ve found them.
No. 5: Billy “The Psycho” Ward (vs. Damon Dyer – KOTC: Civil War II) – The first time that I had ever met Billy “The Psycho” Ward was in Clearfield, Pennsylvania, and I don’t think I could have met anyone as enthused to fight after driving all the way from Michigan to the Clearfield County Fairgrounds. Having grown up in Clearfield County, I can tell you that the Detroit depicted in “8 Mile” looks a lot like the Upper East Side of New York City in Comparison. While doing the commentary notes for that evening’s fight, I had discovered that Billy Ward was a King of the Cage (KOTC) veteran and that was a big deal to me. To date, I am a big fan of King of the Cage, and being able to call a fight for someone with that kind of accomplishment was a feather in my cap. Billy Ward would go on to defeat Ryan Glunt that night, and would come back to Complete Devastation MMA (CDMMA) three more times in bouts against Brett “Showtime” Shoenfelt, PJ Palmer, and Brad “The Machine Gun” Mountain. As much as Billy is a KOTC veteran and able to be seen on UFC Fight Pass, he’ll surely remain a CDMMA mainstay in my opinion.
No. 4: Eric “the Monster” Moon (vs. Mitch Filer – KOTC: Civil War II) – Another guy who fought in Clearfield, PA. A few years before I’d ever meet Francis “The MadDog” Healy and ever think that I’d run into someone with a high profile fight with a PRIDE FC veteran like Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett, I met Eric “the Monster” Moon, who had done just that. The main event for CDMMA 6 in Clearfield, PA was set: Tenyeh “Skinnyman” Dixon would welcome Eric “The Monster” Moon to the cage for the rubber match in their fight series, and Dixon would get his hand raised (the victory was later overturned and no one really knows why). What the Clearfield County Fairgrounds did see that night was an athlete like they hadn’t seen before. In Clearfield County, there are quite a few high schools that boast decent wrestling programs (West Branch, Moshannon Valley, and Clearfield, to name a few), and Eric Moon had shown what true tenacity was in that Expo I building that night. Eric Moon wouldn’t return to Complete Devastation MMA, but for that one night in the county I called home, it was one hell of a fight.
No. 3: Ted “Red” Worthington (vs. Alonzo Martinez – Victory FC 22: Ascension) – Ted Worthington might not be known as a man with the most imposing win/loss ratio, but what should impress you is the man’s will to fight anyone, anywhere. In Altoona, Pennsylvania, Worthington had drawn hometown pugilist Brett “Showtime” Shoenfelt and didn’t have an ounce of nerves. Before the fight, Drew and I had an opportunity to talk to Ted, and it became abundantly clear that Ted Worthington had a lot different experiences than anyone who was going to fight in the CDMMA cage that night. The story that Ted told me, that impressed me the most, was how he’d fight in Iowa. According to Worthington, there was no such thing as an athletic commission, that you just sign a release and fight. The “Ted Talk” that I had with Worthington was one of the things that I’ll remember the most about the post-Go Time era of Complete Devastation MMA.
No. 2: Tyler “Superman” Combs (vs. Jamie Varner – XFO 39) – Complete Dveastation MMA 6 was a big deal, both personally and logistically. I’m sure I’ve told the stories about the amateur undercard falling apart, how CDMMA had to cough up big bucks to fill out the card with pro fights, but the unintended consequence was that CDMMA 6 was one of the marquee events in the promotion’s run. One of the fights that stands out to me the most was Tyler “Superman” Combs vs. Andrew Osborne; a fight that I would give fight of the night honors to if anyone were to ask. A lot of great athletes fought on that card, and I can’t tell you that Clearfield, Pennsylvania truly appreciated it. In meeting Tyler Combs, I met a man with a lot of charisma and it shows everytime that he fights.
No. 1: “Superfly” Steve Smith (vs. Joe Pearson – Extreme Challenge 227) – It makes me sad to be reminded that Steve Smith has passed away. I met Steve only a few times, but our personal interactions didn’t tell half of the story that his fights did. THe man was essentially fearless, he’d take fights against anyone at any time, and what better legacy to leave than that. There are times when I’ve seen fighters lose the fight mentally, that the temptation to embrace defeat overcomes the will to win; I can honestly tell you that I’d never seen that in Steve. The first time that I’d seen Steve fight with my own two eyes was in Johnstown, PA; I’d heard his reputation from prior fights and I was made into a believer after that. The last time I’d seen him fight was at Complete Devastation MMA against Travis Wineland, and the man clearly had heart. The eventual actuality of the world is that the people we know are going to leave and the best thing we can do is keep them in our memories, in a fond corner of remembrance.
Thank you for joining us this week on the Friday 5ive! Until next time: Fights, Cameron, Action!