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Ensuring Fighter Safety: A Conversation with Nebraska State Athletic Commissioner Brian Dunn


Nathan Rogers of MMA Futures had the opportunity to sit down with Brian Dunn, the Nebraska State Athletic Commissioner, to discuss the role of the commission and its impact on MMA in the state. Brian Dunn is a respected figure in the sport and has been working to regulate professional boxing and amateur and professional MMA events throughout Nebraska. In this interview, he sheds light on the commission’s responsibilities and efforts to prioritize fighter safety.

Protecting Fighters and Ensuring Safety

As the Nebraska State Athletic Commissioner, Brian Dunn’s primary responsibility is to protect the state from liability during combat sports events. This involves ensuring that every event complies with essential safety measures. He ensures that a doctor is present at every fight, an ambulance is on-site, and the promoter provides an insurance policy to protect the fighters in case of injury. Additionally, fighters are required to undergo clean blood work for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV, along with a physical examination to ensure their suitability for competition.

Dunn acknowledges that fighting is inherently dangerous, but he believes that adhering to unified rules for professionals and amateurs in MMA is essential to ensure safe competition. While different states may have variations in their rulesets, Dunn emphasizes the importance of maintaining safe standards to protect fighters across the country.

Financial Aspects and Taxes

The Nebraska State Athletic Commission operates as a sports commission and relies on a 5% fee collected from the sale of event tickets to fund its operations. This fee is charged in addition to the regular state tax and helps pay the salaries of commission staff and other expenses related to regulating combat sports events in the state.

Decision Making and Fighter Matchmaking

Dunn and his team are responsible for reviewing and approving fight matchups to ensure fighter safety. While fighters have the right to compete, Dunn believes that matchmaking should be done thoughtfully, considering the safety of the athletes involved. While he tries not to deny fights unnecessarily, he acknowledges that fighters should be physically prepared and trained before stepping into the cage.

Review Process for Referees and Judges

The commission trains referees and judges, making sure they have a thorough understanding of all aspects of MMA and combat sports. After a one-day training course and passing a test, referees and judges are observed in lower-level amateur fights to assess their skills and decision-making abilities. As they gain experience and prove their competence, they may get the opportunity to officiate higher-level fights.

Appeals and Overturning Decisions

Fighters or promoters have the right to appeal decisions made during an event. The appeal process involves a thorough review, which is conducted by Dunn’s boss, an attorney who reviews the facts and discussions with involved parties before deciding whether a decision should be overturned.

Adding New Sports and Regulations

When promoters or organizations want to introduce new combat sports in the state, they must work with legislators to draft a bill. Dunn’s role involves assessing the potential financial impact of introducing a new sport. Once approved, the commission will train referees and judges for the specific sport to ensure proper regulation.

The Future of Combat Sports in Nebraska

Dunn is optimistic about the future of combat sports in Nebraska. The state recently sanctioned bare-knuckle fighting and professional kickboxing events, showcasing its commitment to expanding combat sports opportunities. Dunn believes that supporting amateur combat sports is vital for growing the talent pool and creating a healthier fighting community.

Closing Thoughts

Brian Dunn’s role as the Nebraska State Athletic Commissioner is critical in safeguarding fighter safety during combat sports events. His dedication to adhering to unified rules and training referees and judges helps ensure the sport’s integrity and fairness. As combat sports continue to grow, the Nebraska State Athletic Commission plays a pivotal role in promoting a safe and exciting environment for fighters and fans alike.

Dynasty Combat Sports: Seasons Beatings 2021


Midwest MMA Vet Chalie Dubray Talks about MMA


We were very fortunate to have this opportunity to talk to MMA Veteran Charlie Dubray. Dubray is a 30 fight professional fighter based out of Nebraska. He has fought the best of the best including UFC Fighters Darrick Minner, Anthony “Sharkbait” Gutierrez, and Bellator Standout Rafeon Stots.

We found this interview very telling, for many MMA is more than just a sport. We’ve heard the stories about Connor McGreggor being on food stamps before he was in the UFC but do we really let that sink in? Charlie talks about life without the sport and how getting back into it saved him and it has before.

If anything I hope this interview helps people to understand that this sport is more than just that… it’s also a lifestyle.

Amateur Fighter receives suspension after mooning crowd


Saturday December 19th at a local promotion after defending his title decided to drop his pants and moon UFC Fighter Darrick Minner. Well he actually took it a little farther than that. There was obviously bad blood between the two amateur fighters, Ray Evans and Tanner Wonch, who were competing for an amateur title Saturday night.

Here is a little play by play of the video above

  • After finishing the fight, Evans slapped Wonch while getting up after the break.
  • After having his team removed from the cage (I mean we are still under a pandemic here) he then crawled down to talk more smack to the defeated opponent.
  • Former EBI world combat jiu-jitsu champ Nick Honstein steps in to separate the two and the fighter flips off Honstein.
  • When the promoter informed him that his attitude was uncalled for he decided to flip off the promoter.
  • Then Evans started chatting with Darrick Minner who was outside the cage and thought it was a good idea to pull his pants down and show his butt to him.

Fortunately the staff at the promotion was professional and no further actions were made.

Tanner Wonch won the fight by DQ but Ray Evans does retain his title.

Fighting Alliance Championship 5 and 6


Friday night MMA Futures and UFC Fight Pass brings you Fighting Alliance Championship 5 on Friday night and an unpresidented second show live right here on MMA Futures PPV on Saturday night!. Fighting Alliance Championship has quickly become THE promotion to watch in the Midwest. With 4 events already in the past FAC has already proven the talent with 2 fighters from the promotion already reaching the UFC, Kevin Croom and Jason Witt.

FAC 5 will not be any different from the previous with a stacked pro card and a great Amateur card too! You’re not going to want to miss the Main event feature 2 UFC vets trying to make their way back to the big show with Jason High taking on Jake Lindsey. You also won’t want to miss prospects John O’Brien and Gauge Young entering the cage and the return of KC Favorite Antonio Martinez!

Fighting Alliance Championship 5 Card

Live on UFC FightPass

Jason High vs Jake Lindsay
Mike Breeden vs Ken Beverly
Devin Webber vs Bryan McDowell
John O’Brien vs Caleb Crump
Ej Brooks vs Derek Holly
Antonio Martinez vs Derrick Weaver
Gauge Yound vs Shea Conley

MMA Futures Free Stream (youtube Channel)

Nick Meck vs James Regina
Cameron Cash vs Danny Moriarty
Amanda Byers vs Rachael Lippert
Bogdan Avgustinovich vs Julius Walker
Ty Schrader vs Curtis Bissell
Dominic Gilliam vs Hunter Vaughn

And if that wasn’t enough we reset and come back with another great event on Saturday night! Headlined by A couple of KC natives Alan Olivas and Joe Estrada!

Fighting Alliance Championship 6 Card


Alan Olivas vs Joe Estrada
Deron Carlis vs Adam Rider
John Beckett vs Cesar Morales
Julie Russell vs Morgan Walgren
Muhammad Zwolak vs Kaleb Young
Devin Blessing vs Colton Kooser
Isaac Dulgarian vs Ralph Hernandez
Kevin Thomas vs Michael Cole
Tristram Christriansen vs Kent Masters
Alejandro Gomez vs Vince Anderson
Lucas Da Costa vs Rex Stidham
Devonte Frencher vs Billy Wilson
Sean Atkinson vs Blake Smith
Tyree Robins vs Blake Pennock

All Fights listed are subject to change… This is the Covid Era!

Kansas City Fighting Alliance 34 – Fight 4 the Troops

The next installment of Kansas City Fighting Alliance is just around the corner with Fight 4 the Troops.

KCFA Brings the largest and best fights to the Kansas City area and Fight 4 the Troops will definitely not disappoint. With Jason Witt returning to the KCFA cage after a couple of fights in other organizations, and local favorites David Onama, Zach Long and Amanda Byers entering the cage this will be a night of fights you won’t want to miss!

Kansas City Fighting Alliance: KCFA 33

Kansas City Fighting Alliance KCFA 33, comes to you live exclusively from MMA Futures, on saturday, May 4th.

Anthony Gutierrez makes his was back to the cage for a run at the big show in KCFA 33 s main event. David Onama, a phenom out of the Glory MMA and Fitness North camp will be looking to stay undefeated in the pro ranks. And the ageless wonder Ben Elmore is sure to bring a ton of excitement in the amateur main event when he takes on the formidable Tyler Schmidt.

Complete Fight Card Subject To change

KCFA 33 Professional Fight card

Anthony Gutierrez vs Will Shutt
Antonio Martinez vs Wayman Carter kickboxing
David Onama vs Raymond Bighead
Josh Reed vs Blayne Richards
Andrew Swofford vs Kyleb Collins kickboxing

KCFA 33 Amateur Fight Card card

Ben Elmore vs Tyler Schmidt
Stefaan Jefferson vs Travis Ford
Julie Russell vs Marissa Chavez
John O’Brien vs Lance Templeton
Amanda Byers vs TBD
Zadac Lankford vs Gauge Young
Collen Divers vs Vince Anderson
Rex Stidham vs Jacob Clary

MCF 17 – St. Paddy’s Beatdown – Set For Saturday In North Platte

Midwest Championship Fighting will head to the D&N Event Center in North Platte, Nebraska for MCF 17: St. Paddy’s Beatdown.

MMA Futures will be the only place you can see MCF 17. Follow the link below to purchase the PPV. PPV will go up to $29.99 so save some money and order today.

Up to 10 pro events are scheduled along with two amateur title fights.

Kam Jordan takes on Kyle Egolf
Jayson Scott battles Isiah Torres,
Don Tracy fights Cody Kessler,
Isaac Doolittle takes on Austin Jones,
And Much Much More!

Check out plenty of past MMA Futures coverage on our YouTube page.

Dynasty Combat Sports 18 – Arocho vs Rojas

Fight Card

Taylor Dutcher Vs. Daniel Brown
Keegan Blanco Vs. Jacob Sazzman
David Monk Vs. Erik Rostvet
Jorge Perez Vs. Kerwin Sherrill
Christina Ferency Vs. Alexandria Stobbe
Leandro Arias Vs. Tony Olvera
Emeka Ifekandu Vs. Kaleb Neugin
Matt Schartz Vs. Tanner Leichleiter
Erick Murray Vs. Michael Duffy
Anthony Byers Vs. Nate Morrow
Troy Nawrocki Vs. Tower Robinson
Baron Muller Vs. Dwight Joseph
Eric Buck Vs. Cody Land
Jordan Hernandez Vs. Chad Obermiller
Josh Arocho Vs. Roberto Rojas Jr.

Controversy: UFC & Reebok Payout Tier


Starting in July the UFC will implement a payout tier. So what is the reaction of the fighters? According to social media and conversations MMA Futures has had with fighters across the country, it is overwhelmingly negative. This is putting unnecessary stress onto an already high pressure career path. Fighters struggle to make ends meet as it is in the lower ranks. Now, when they get to the pinnacle of the sport, they are limited by a hierarchy of earning potential based their value to one sponsor. It just seems unfair.

Joanna Jędrzejczyk  $40k
Joanna Jędrzejczyk $40k

The hierachical tiers are tenure-based. What does that really mean? What it means to the fighters is, on July 11 with UFC 189 in Las Vegas, the break down is as follows: Fighters with 1-5 bouts receive $2,500 per fight; 6-10 bouts get $5,000; 11-15 bouts get $10,000; 16-20 bouts get $15,000; and more than 21 bouts get $20,000. Additionally, title challengers receive $30,000, and champions receive $40,000.

Under the Reebok deal Joanna Jędrzejczyk will make $40k when she fights in June. If she loses that fight, she’ll make $2.5k for her next bout. Likewise, if Chris Weidman and TJ Dillashaw lose their belts (and don’t get immediate rematches) they will be knocked down to $5k. UFC heavyweight Brendan Schaub claims he’s made at least six figures in sponsorship dollars for each of his past six UFC fights. With a total of 12 octagon appearances to his name, Schaub now stands to make just $10,000 for his next fight under the terms of the Reebok deal.

“It’s the lowest I’ve ever made on sponsorship money, the Travis Browne fight. Ever, ever in my 13-fight career. It’s crazy, right?… I think the top guys might benefit… I think it helps the very top guys. From what I know, I don’t know all the facts. So the top 5 guys, the champ, it’s going to help, and the guys in the middle, I don’t think it’s going to help. But it helps the new guys too, who don’t get sponsors.”  –   Brenden Schaub

These are the kinds of differences in pay scale that cause strikes. You just don’t want to see your workforce complaining and talking about the difference in the amount of pay that they’re getting. It is just no good for business. It just seems very USSR-like to limit a champion to 40k. A manager at Jiffy Lube makes more than that and he doesn’t get hit in the face (usually). The best guys in the world only get 40 grand? That just does not seem like enough.

Only time will tell if the fighter’s objections and needs will be taken into consideration. Can the fighters force the UFC to alter the structure? Most of the fighters that we follow on social media are very much opposed to the deal. So what is the solution? At this point no one can speculate as to what Dana White and the UFC plan to do. It is just a shame when fighters have to suffer to benefit a high profile sponsor.

P-Town’s New Lease is 3-0


TODAY is the first day of the rest of my life… This age-old adage is without significance if you refuse to do anything different after making this vow. For some people TODAY is New Year’s Day, a birthday, or just plain Monday. The day does not matter. What matters is, what you choose to do to start living your life differently. For Sean “P-Town” Wilson that day was inspired by tragedy. Wilson was critically injured in an motorcyle accident a little more than a year ago, an accident that claimed the life of one of his great friends.

“Now is my time,” says Sean “P-Town” Wilson. He is on a three-fight win streak and feels the best he has ever felt in his life. Since the accident, things have changed in Wilson’s life. He is raising three children with full custody of his three-year-old daughter. He says, “I feel good spiritually, mentally and physically right now. I feel better than I ever have.” This is coming from a man that has had over 200 fights in his career. The way Wilson sees it; he is 3-0 right now. He has taken on a whole new fight team, coaches and has taken his new lease on life to heart. “When my buddy died right in front of me, it was like a switch went off in my head. I realized that this was my chance and I was going to take it. I’m working out two or three times-a-day, six or seven days-a-week but I don’t even think about it. It is just coming natural like I’m supposed to be doing it,” says Wilson. Sean Wilson is a man with a purpose.

seanSean “P-Town” Wilson, born ( October 20, 1982) raised in Omaha, Nebraska, where he grew up with his family. Wilson says, “They call me “P-Town” because I grew up in a small town just South of Omaha called Papillion. When I started boxing as a kid, I had a match against another kid from South Omaha and they started calling me ‘P-Town’ and it just stuck. Most people don’t even know my real name.”

When asked how he got his start in MMA Wilson says, “My dad always had me working out. I started hitting the heavy bag when I was about eight years old. I played a little football and tried other sports but I really got into boxing in high school from about the age of fourteen, then I had to wait until I was eighteen to fight MMA, so as soon as I turned eighteen I got into Mixed Martial Arts.” Wilson began his mixed martial arts career in 2000, and turned professional shortly after. “I was all about making money back then” admits Wilson. Along the way he compiled an up and down career. Wilson says, “I didn’t take fighting seriously. I was just doing it for the money. As soon as I would get tired or something like that, I would just kinda lay down and collect the money and go home.”

Sean calls himself a freestyle fighter with an emphasis in the standup game. “I am very comfortable standing up with my boxing and kickboxing because I grew up on it, but I’m not scared of going to the ground, I just won a fight with a submission so I can grapple too. I just think of myself as more of a stand up kind of Freestyle Fighter,” says Wilson. When asked who his mentors are Wilson says, “I used to look up to guys like Grover Wiley, Vito Agusto and of course my dad growing up, Jesse Jones was another one. All of them are coaching now and I’m still fighting. I kinda got Jake Ellenberger into MMA he was always asking me to train and now look at him. I don’t know, I don’t really look up to too many people. I’m just really proud of Jake.” 

32-year-old Sean Wilson has been tentatively scheduled to fight in Bellator on June 19th in a 145-pound bout and/or VFC (Victory Fighting Championships) on July 25th in Omaha. Wilson has put together somewhat of a winning streak as of late, winning his last three, all of which he finished via KO/submission. Although some would argue, can a 32-year-old man compete or even win a title? Just remember, Randy Couture did not even start his MMA career until 33. He is the oldest champion in UFC history at the age of 45, and he will likely forever hold that distinction. Even as he approached 50 years old, Couture won three of his final four MMA bouts. Today it would be amazing to see a fighter at Wilson’s age reach the height of MMA. So what about Sean Wilson? “It took me 32 years to grow up but I wouldn’t change what I’m doing right now for anything,” says Wilson. He emphasizes his gratitude to all of the people who have helped, supported and stuck with him through all of his recent trials. Sean Wilson is a man on a mission.

His coaches tell him to aim for the UFC. If you are going to aim, aim big. “I am training like I am training for the UFC and I will do everything that is in me to get there,” says Wilson. Wilson’s new lease on life has given him a purpose and a direction. That direction, at least for the moment is headed straight for the top. And if you ask him what his ultimate goal is, he does not say the UFC or a championship. He simply states, “I’m gonna hurt some people this year.”

Two Great Events 1 Low Price

MMA Futures is super excited to bring you two great events in one action packed weekend!

We will kick the weekend off in Lincoln, NE for Dynasty Combat Sports: Spring Brawl live from Pinnacle Bank Arena.  This card features a ton of great fights, including former WSOF championship contender derrick Mehmen taking on Former UFC Competitor Jason Brilz.  This card also includes Charlie DuBrat defending his Pro Bantamweight title against Kansas City’s William Joplin, Justin Weaver gets his shot at the lightweight DCS Amateur title once again against Buhma Karmo. Cody Land, Dwight Joseph, Mike Messer, Tower Robinson, Trey Smith will also all be on this action packed card!

And if that wasn’t enough we will be following that up on Saturday April 25th with our first live event from Kansas City with Kansas City Fighting Alliance 14.  Featuring Jason Witt stepping in the cage against Josh Tully the current KCFA Welterweight title holder.  This card also features several up and coming stars from the midwest, including Jade Chun, Yazan Hajeh, and Trey Ogden.

These are 2 event every MMA Fan will want to see, and for $14.99 you can see them both.  We will be bringing you insights and videos from several of these fights in the coming weeks.  More details to come soon.

Dynasty Combat Sports: Spring Brawl

Friday April 24th
Fight Card

Tony Olvera Vs. Caleb Hall

Tanner Leichleiter Vs. Justin Schenk

Angela Gwinnup Vs. Sydney Sallach

Daryl Holthus Vs. Jordan Brooks

Chase Isom Vs. Ethan Hopp

Brittany Viets Vs. Christina Ferency

Trey Smith Vs. Loyd “Boo” Chase

Nate Morrow Vs. Nolan DeMers

Mike Messer Vs. Tower Robinson

Jake Kocanda Vs. Anthony Lott

Jeremy Gabel Vs. Corey Davis

Justin Weaver Vs. Boimah Karmo

Jett Jones Vs. Brian Monaghan

Omar Choudhury Vs. Cody Land

William Joplin Vs. Charlie DuBray

Scott Hough Vs. Jason Brilz

KCFA 14: Tully vs Witt

Saturday April 25th
Fight Card

Travis Smith Vs. Tim Matney

Isaiah Mountjoy Vs. Shawn Schuyler

Galen Livingston Vs. Troy Depriest

Raymond Powell Vs. Zach Scroggin

Trevor Lanzone Vs. Codi Peppard

Domo Garcia Vs. Justin Gorrell

Wayne Jordan Vs. Anthony Goldfield

Yazan Hajeh Vs. Aaron Goldfield

Drew Shippy Vs. Aryon Nelson

Brian Wilkerson Vs. Anthony Garrett

Jade Chun Vs. Leiloni Stewart

Julian Marquez Vs. Jesse Jones

TDB Vs. Joe Estrada

Trey Ogden Vs. Nick Radtka

Jason Witt Vs. Josh Tully

*Dynasty Combat Sports: Spring Brawl will not be available to watch live in Lincoln – But will be available for replay the day after the event.

*KCFA 14 will not be available live in the Kansas City area – But will be available for replay the day after the event.

Losing my MMA Virginity


Me being interviewed by Kurt Podony

Do you remember the first time you stepped into the ring/cage and lost your MMA Virginity? My high school football coach, John Lawler, used to tell all of us cocky nobodies, “You guys are just one ‘ass-kickin’ away from being nice guys.” I did not understand what he meant by that at the time. That is, until I got my “ass kicked,” so to speak. He was talking about humility, gratitude and respect. There’s not much about cocky nobodies that separates us from any other fighter-wanna-be, except maybe how we learn respect.

I tried to recount specific fights and experiences. All I could really come up with is a series of memory fragments, moments that send little glimpses of fear, anger or adrenaline through my soul. You know, like the smell of “Aquanet” and “Charlie” reminds you of junior high dances. God I’m old. Anyhoo, it’s funny how the mind works. You catch a whiff of Aquanet and shazam, you’re making out with Ronda Brown in the gym bleachers. But I digress, I thought I would throw out some of those random memories and see if you can relate.

I decided to watch my first fight, from 2004, Sigma Chi fight night, a boxing match. Almost immediately I got drawn back to a time when I thought I was trained up and ready. Soon I was thinking of all of those “do-you-remembers.” Reminiscence echoed extra loud for two reasons: I just started training in Muay Thai again lately and dammit I still feel that familiar adrenaline junkie pull to get back in there and do it again. Nevertheless, I started remembering the insane mixture of naivety and heavy self-confidence I felt that night. And remembering put me there again, peaceful. I remembered my coach Kurt Podany. And I remembered why I needed this.


I had a handful of full-speed sparring sessions and a ton of street fights under my belt before I trained for my first real fight, a Muay Thai event in Peoria Illinois.

My Muay Thai coach was top notch and I believe all my training was of the highest caliber. I felt I was ready to fight at this point. I believed that because I was training with Kurt Podany. I felt like I was untouchable. Kurt sets me up to fight in the Muay Thai Regional event. The winner goes on to nationals. Most of the other fighters have a number of Muay Thai fights under their belts. This is my debut, yeah, I’m nervous.

The fight is set at 165 pounds and I’m walking around at 170-175. I remember, Kurt did not feel right unless I puked at least once a week from training. We were training in a garage in 90-plus degree heat like hard-cores. I remember about 10 days before the fight he made me do a 30 minute round with him at about 80%. Now that may not sound too bad but keep in mind that he is six-foot four-inches tall (I’m 5’7″) and outweighs me by about 20 pounds. Not to mention, he has a world title belt in Muay Thai that he won IN THAILAND!!! That round was the hardest thing I have ever done.

It’s a nine-hour drive to Peoria, Illinois, from Omaha. I sit in the car, miserably nervous but trying to play it cool.

I weigh in at 167. It was 98 degrees that day and I remember going outside to jump rope in sweats for about 20 minutes to shed the last couple of pounds. I come back in and step on the scale again, 161. I lost so much that Kurt told me that I have four pounds to go. I reminded him that I was fighting at 165 not 157. To this day, we cannot figure out how I lost 6 pounds in 20 minutes but hey, I made weight.

I have no idea how to re-hydrate so I drink about six Diet Cokes and a Gatorade, because that is all they had. I ate some candy and a protein bar and my stomach turned with the first food inside it for two days.

I met the other fighters and trainers. There were two pro Muay Thai fighters in the locker room.  I’m too nervous to say anything, but I watch what they do and how they interact with the other people to get a sense of what I should do. My nerves are making my feet pace like crazy. My voice gets too loud and I laugh too much. Kurt tries to distract me with some pads.

I meet another guy fighting on the card, He tells me he loves Muay Thai but that this might be his last fight, he’s 40. He just wanted to get one more fight out of the way. He says this, matter-of–factually as if full contact Muay Thai is a 40-year-old’s most natural thing to do. All of the fighters had some unique and bizarre stories.

I remember feeling in my element with the people around me.

I see my opponent when we change, but I am numb to any consequence of him. I don’t know how to act. He doesn’t smile, all business. He weighs a couple pounds more than me. He is from Chicago.

I don’t sleep much that night.


Nervous as f#$%. I pretend to be cool, but cracking my neck compulsively, which is me coping with stress. Jumping around, trying to control the hurricane that is blowing through my mind. Don’t want to show fear, so I grin like a fiend and crack jokes.  I guess my brain makes me do the same things when I’m drunk as I do when I’m nervous.

The lockers and warm-up rooms are separated into two sides. The corners are gray and damp and look like a jail cell. There is an intrusive sweaty, moldy smell. The bathrooms are on the other side of the locker room so at least you don’t have to walk through the crowd to pee. I think I had to pee about 30 times.

Someone calls my name. I walk up a narrow aisle and I see my opponent looking at my American flag Thai Shorts. And we wait to walk out onto the stairs into the ring. There are no pyrotechnics, no fanfare, just raw emotion and energy as Kurt steps on the bottom rope, pulls the top-ropes over my head and I step into the ring. The crowd is cheering. My heart is in my throat as I stare down the man that wants to kill me.

Kurt whispers in my ear, “He is a spinner, hit him hard with leg kicks right when the bell sounds.”


Bam. Fight on. I can’t remember the details, except he loved that spinning back and side kick,  so I know I need to slam that plant leg. Sure enough, right out of the gate he tries to spin and I throw a hard leg kick to the plant leg, he goes down. I follow him down with several straight punches. Oooooh that felt good.  Ref pulls me off and stands him back up. I did that twice in the first round but damn I was out of gas. My mouthpiece almost falls out. Bell rings; round one is over. I was on top of him twice in that round. I’m winning, right?  I go to my corner and I don’t really remember what Kurt was saying to me except, “Keep your head up, don’t lunge and keep attacking that plant leg.”

Round 2. He spins at me, I try to clinch and trip and fall over my own feet. I back up and wait for the plant leg. Clinch. Separate. He whacks me when I try to kick. We clinch again and he tries to trip me. Again he spins with a side kick to my abdomen which throws me into the ropes. The ref gives me a standing 8 count. Which was a B.S. call. The kick did not hurt me, it just looked strong because I flew into the ropes.

I swung wildly with my head down. I was clearly getting tired. My head got caught up in the ropes. Break, the bell rings.

Round 3. I am gassed but I know that I have to win this round. He landed some more strong spinners. He was really good at that.  I don’t remember much from the round but the very end. I had him against the ropes and I remember thinking, keep hitting him as hard and fast as you can. You need the knock out. The bell sounded and his coach came straight over to me, rubbed my head and said, “You’re one tough son of a bitch.” That was cool but I could tell Kurt was disappointed.

I lost the fight by decision.

Me and my opponent 2004
Me and my opponent 2004

It’s impossible to quantify the feeling I had back then. My life was a mess and fighting changed all that. Kurt Podany changed  my life. He gave me a job, he trained me and he became one of the best friends I have ever had. And I do remember the first time I stepped into the ring coach, but virginity? I don’t know about that comparison but I do know that my high school football coach was right. Humility is much easier to come by today. And after nearly 20 years of knowing Kurt Podany and throwing those theoretical punches and kicks, I am swimming in the gratitude and respect that I have for him and all that he has done for me. Kurt Is having heart surgery this week and as a friend, I am worried for him.  But as a fighter, I know the champ will come out on top.

So hey coach, we will never be able to go back in time, but you have to get better because, I wanna go again!

An Old-fashioned Feud


Aaron Rajman

There are so many reasons, I would like to see a match-up between Aaron Rajman and Sky Moiseichik. I have watched Aaron as his career has progressed and he has become a very talented athlete with tons of potential. I have not personally seen Sky in the ring but I have spoken with him personally and his 7-2-2 (6-3 official Sherdog) record speaks for itself. One cannot ignore that there is much more to this match-up than meets the eye. On the surface, it seems like a festering animosity between two guys that have had a turbulent past and share no love loss between them but when you dig deeper it becomes more of a “Hatfields and McCoys” Old-fashioned feud.

Apparently, both fighters started ABC (American Battle Championships), an amateur MMA promotion in South Florida.  After a year, the two parted ways and in the interim, according to Rajman, Moiseichik allegedly assaulted members of Rajman’s family while returning to get the remainder of his belongings. “Moiseichik forced his way in and put hands on my family, he is wanted for burglary and aggravated assault in Boca,” says Rajman. They have both since used the ABC trade-name and have had some grievances raised on both sides as to the quality of each other’s promotion. Rajman cites a number of cancellations and safety concerns with Moiseichik’s promotions.

Rajman has signed a contract to fight Moiseichik. Moiseichik has had the contract for two weeks and has thus far, not signed to fight Rajman. Moiseichik has cited hotel and travel costs as concerns about signing the contract, all of which have been addressed. He is now demanding a pay raise. “I don’t know how many tickets you’re going to sell but let me know what you want  in a pay raise and I’ll get it for you in sponsors. I’ll fight you for free, stop making excuses and sign tonight,” says Rajman through a Facebook post to Moiseichik.


Here’s my bet on the fight if you really show up, winner keeps rights to ABC, loser signs that he will cease use of the brand. Loser also shaves hair and beard. This would be in a contract written professionally by Emilee Imber, which you may have your people look over, of course.

Everyone can clearly see from the below photo that I own the trade mark on ABC currently and that your last show was a major trademark infringement. Only reason I haven’t sued yet is there’s nothing to sue you for… Now that being said, I ain’t got much either so let’s settle this like men. If you bitch out Sky Moiseichik, then I’ll fight someone else and take the opportunity so graciously given to move forward, while u hide from challenge.

Stop with the excuses and sign ASAP! Who wants to see this fight?? Please let me know and share this post until he can’t make any more excuses!!! Thanks and G-d bless (even you Sky) lol

But as my favorite actor John Wayne once said, “There are two sides to that spinning coin.” And so too are there two sides to this story. When MMA Futures spoke with Moiseichik about the conflict he told us that ABC was his vision, “I wanted to make a promotion by fighters for fighters.” I came up with the name, paid for the domain on GoDaddy in February of 2012 and I paid the artist for the artwork for the logo,” says Moiseichik.

Sky told MMA Futures that he put up all of the money for the initial cost. “Aaron did not put one dime into it, it was all my money,” says Moiseichik. “Now he thinks that because he filed for a trademark he can steal it from me. I was the first one to use that name and I own it. I also paid for the artwork that Aaron is now using as his trademark.” Moiseichik admitted that he has stepped away from the business as of late because of personal and family reasons. “Aaron is trying to ruin my reputation,” says Moiseichik.


“I went into my registered place of business to get back some personal items not worth anything to anyone but me; a title belt, some letters and personal awards. I was assaulted by Aaron’s brother and even after that I signed a note that listed the things I took with me. I had every right to go in and get my stuff. They just wanted to keep me from getting my personal items out of spite. How can I burglarize my own business?”


MMA Futures could find no police report with Boca police or the county sheriff’s office of an assault warrant or any other crime committed by Moiseichik in Palm Beach County. There is simply no record of it that we could find. And above is the proof of ownership of the AmericanBattleChampionships.com  domain name and a response from the artist who designed the logo sent to MMA Futures by Moiseichik.


“He entered my home forcefully and put hands on my family. Charges were likely dropped months ago but a police report was certainly filed. In response to him saying “how can I break into my own business?” Feel free to quote me. If you are the registered agent of a Corporation and are not at the business to be served if need be, you can be fined and shut down. My home was NOT his business. He was not welcome there and if he were to attempt to enter again he would likely and legally be killed. ”

“I agreed to give him the pay raise. I would love to know why he deserves more money than me considering I’ll sell more tickets than him by far. He also said he wants me to pay him before he signs the contract. That’s so sad man. Tell him I’ll add a $300 dollar pay raise into the contract including the ABC bet. This guy’s all in the media but wants to be payed with no contract. Don’t be scared homie, your running out of excuses. ”

Below is the Trademark ownership provided by Aaron Rajman.


Sky told MMA Futures that he absolutely plans on signing the contract. “I had to make sure my costs were covered because I am coming in from Puerto Rico for this fight and as you know, this is one of the most hyped up fights in South Florida. You guys are even calling me from the Midwest about it. I want to get paid fair market value for this fight. Aaron says he will pay and as soon as that happens, I will sign,” says Moiseichik.  He also added that in Florida making a bet to shave one’s head and beard cannot be legally enforced but “I will agree to it as a gentleman’s bet if he does the same,” says  Moiseichik.

Rajman has offered to settle the ownership dispute in the ring with Moiseichik. Moiseichik has also agreed. Oh my God! It does not get any better than this. I for one, would love to see this match-up between Aaron Rajman and Sky Moiseichik in-person, ringside. This is as close to a Wild-west showdown between two gunslingers as you can get, winner take all.  As far as the festering animosity, the “Hatfields and McCoys” would be proud. This is now a showdown of wills and the sport of MMA can use more of this Old-fashioned feud mentality.


This fight is now confirmed per the Promotion, stay tuned for more information

MCF 10 St. Patty’s Day Beatdown 3


MCF 10 St. Patty’s Day Beatdown 3 is going down March 21st at the D&N Event Center in North Platte, NE.

MMA Futures Grey Hat, Ryan McDonald will be making his Pro Debut against the tough Jordan Hernandez¹ Baron Muller out of Wyoming.

Also featuring Delfino Benetiz, Brandon Bringewatt, Martin Sellers and Many more

This show is always a great time and is one you won’t want to miss if you are a fan of MMA its well worth the trip.

Baron Muller (0-1) vs Ryan MacDonald (Pro Debut)

Pro 135

Jeremy Clary (2-2)  vs Gary Prince (0-1)

Pro 170

Joe Guerrero (4-1-1) vs Delfino Benitez (5-2)

Am. 125

TBA vs Brandon Bringewatt (4-1)

Am. 205

Jono Kubicka  vs Mark Hooper (5-4)

Am. 145

James Fleming (3-0) vs Johnathan Schmidt

Am. 155

Brandon Morgan (0-1) vs Martin Sellers (2-0)

Am. 185

Corbin Coomes (1-0) vs Matt Schartz (1-0)

Am. 155

Jack Girard (1-0) vs Austin Manchanthasouk (1-2)

Am. 135

Erik Rostvet (1-0) vs Ty Barker (Debut)

Am. 145

Jake Clary vs Cody Kessler

Am. 155

Nate Gossens vsTanner Leichleiter (1-0)

Am. 170

*All records are pulled from MixedMartialArts.com if we have your record wrong please contact us and let us know.

¹Jordan Hernandez was pulled from the card due to an injury

What Does the Black Belt Really Mean?


The Black Belt is the most well known symbols in martial arts of all types, from stand-up to ground-game disciplines. But the concept is full of misconceptions and stereotypes. To those who have never trained, the Black Belt represents the highest level of martial arts skill. To a new Mixed Martial Artist, a Black Belt becomes a worthy goal. For serious Mixed Martial Artists, it becomes an ideal, a lifestyle. But what exactly is a Black Belt and what does wearing a Black Belt really mean?

Kano Jigoro
Kano Jigoro

Many people think that Black Belts had been around for thousands of years. One explanation to the origin of the Black Belt that has been around for a while is; the harder a student trains, the darker their belt gets from the sweat, dirt and blood. When it finally turns black, they are considered experts. This is not true but makes a great bedtime story.The fact is that when the first Judo Black Belts were given by Jigoro Kano in the mid 1880′s, they were used simply as a visual way to acknowledge and separate his most experienced students from the rest. Prior to that, technical skill was rewarded with scrolls or certificates.

Is a Black Belt just a reward, or is there more to it?

Breaking Boards
Breaking Boards

The idea that you have to be a dominant fighter, or be able to break bricks with your head prior to being considered a Black Belt is impressive, but false. The Black Belt is more about internal growth and discipline than fighting prowess. For a lot of training facilities the belt system has become a huge money maker. A significant fee is charged for every test to move up a belt. Taekwondo seems to be the most notorious to practice this. So does capitalism ruin the the gravity of the Black Belt? Is the black belt gained at a strip-mall Taekwondo facility the same as a black belt earned at a Brazilian Jui Jitsu academy? The obvious answer is, Hell No! I have been training in Muay Thai for 10 years. I have never tested for a belt. The only test that I have is in the ring. If I win, I have trained hard enough, if I lose I need to train harder. Muay Thai has become a catalyst for me, a change in lifestyle and philosophy. It has become a way to overcome fear and pursue accomplishment. A Black Belt to me is just that, a black belt.

The discipline, unbreakable spirit and perseverance that it takes to make it from White Belt to Black Belt is more impressive to me than someone’s ability to break boards. Most people can’t stick with anything for a few weeks, let alone three to four years of constant practice. And it’s during this time that we learn that the martial arts is about self-improvement, not just self defense or dominance in the ring. We begin to look past the belt and see the ideals of the Black Belt Excellence, such as honor, integrity, brotherhood and discipline as the goals.

The Black Belt should be the beginning of training, not the end.

The truth is that wearing a Black Belt does not mean anything if you are not living and training like a Black Belt. In fact, anyone who wanted to could call a martial arts supply store, spend $30 and get a brand new black belt in the mail within a few days. But without the dedication, ideals and values of Black Belt Excellence, that belt is just a worthless piece of cloth.

Dynasty Combat Sports 12 – The Validation


Support your local fighters and reach out to them for a special 50% off discount code.  Part of the proceeds from these codes goes to the fighters.




Dynasty Combat Sports and MMA Futures brings you The Validation January 30th live at the Ramada Coco-Keys event center in Omaha, Nebraska and online.  Featuring our 1st ALL Grey Hat Matchup between the experienced Cody Land and young gun Josh Smith.  The event will also feature a women’s bout in the co-main event with Undefeated Bellator Veteran Jozette Cotton taking on Undefeated Kilistina Makihele, of Utah.

The Validation features two women’s amateur mma fights. Omaha fighter Rebecca Wells (top left) will take on Lincoln fighter Jen Bacon. Bacon returns to the DC cage having won her debut at Dynasty Combat Sports: Kearney Cage Warriors back in November. Representing Mick Doyle’s in Omaha Christina Ferency will make her debut against the always tough Mercedes Timmerman out of North Platte.

Amateurs will look to steal the show from the pros January 30th at Dynasty Combat Sports: Validation. Delfino Benitez will defend his flyweight belt for the first time against Jesse Rutherford out of Omaha. Also heavy handed fighters James Kanott II will take on Ethan Hopp to determine who will become the #1 contender for Michael Duffy’s middleweight title.

MMA FUTURES WILL BE BROADCASTING THIS EVENT LIVE. TO WATCH LIVE Click on the “Get Your Virtual Ticket Now!” Button above.



*Current Fight Card – Subject to change and will change

Pro Fights

Cody Land Vs. Josh Smith

Jozette Cotton Vs. Kilistina Makihele

 Amateur Fights

 Tyler Mathison Vs. Raufeon Stots

For the Dynast Combat Sports Amateur Bantamweight Title

 Jesse Rutherford Vs. Delfino Benitez

For the Dynast Combat Sports Amateur Flyweight Title

 Ethan Hopp Vs. James Kanott

Justin Schenk Vs. Adam Valcourt

Levi Melcher Vs. Trey Smith

Jen Bacon Vs. Rebecca Wells

 Caleb Hall Vs. Chad Stanley

Israeli Fight Legend Returns


Herbrew Hammer
Ido “Hebrew Hammer” Pariente

Israeli fight legend Ido Pariente returns to the gym where he started training in Mixed Martial Arts. Lincoln Martial Arts Center will be hosting a six-day seminar with Ido Pariente, February 20-22 and February 27 through March 1st. This is a rare opportunity to meet and train with one of Europe and the Middle East’s top MMA athletes. Ido’s face is everywhere in Israel and Europe endorsing everything from soft drinks to fight techniques. It is not often that the Midwest gets a chance to train with such an international legend. There will be six, three-hour sessions separated into conditioning, striking and ground.You can REGISTER NOW at Lincoln Martial Arts Center. The price for the the three-day basic training class is $90 and the advanced class is$90 but you can get all 6 days for just $150.

John Roseberry – Then and Now

MMA Futures is one of the sponsors for the seminar and we will be covering the event before during and after with video and press coverage. MMA Futures caught up with Gary Gablehouse of LMAC to talk about the event and his relationship with Ido. Gary talked about the maturity of Ido at the age of 22. “I have never seen anyone with that level of maturity at that age. He was a unique student and human being,” says Gabelhouse. When asked, how well do you know Ido, Gabelhouse replied, “Ido came to Lincoln (Nebraska) to train at our dojo under our teacher, John Roseberry.  He spent 6-8 hours every day training in the dojo–that is all he did for two years.  When MMA just started to come on the scene (and when it was illegal in Lincoln), Ido fought in the initial tournaments in Omaha at the armory.  After it was legalized, Roseberry and I were Ido’s corner men.  He started to dominate Judo, Karate, and Boxing at the Cornhusker State Games, and studied with the Machado brothers and Gracies in California.” When asked, have you kept in touch with Ido over the years, Gabelhouse replied, “When Ido went back to Israel, he really began to evolve into a solid MMA fighter.  After his appearances on THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER TV program, he started having quality matches which included opponents like Jake Shields, etc.  He still dominates Israel and Europe, but has turned more to teaching and operates the Pariente MMA Academy in Tel Aviv.”

MMA Futures hopes to make these seminars an ongoing series. Please support us to keep the wheels turning and REGISTER NOW..


Lincoln Martial Arts Center, LLC *1811 “N” Street * Lincoln, NE 68508

Voice: 402-601-4027 Email: ggabelhouse@neb.rr.com Web: www.gabelhouse.com



New Sport of Kings


[dropcap]T[/dropcap]oday there is a new sport of kings and it is called, Mixed Martial Arts. The history that defines the “Sport of Kings” began around 300 years ago in England, where the idea of breeding a superior racehorse was a passion of royalty. And too began the novel idea that anyone could come to the track and take part in that passion.

Everybody remembers “Seabiscuit.” That horse made so famous in the movie of the same name not so many years ago. seabiscuitThat movie is not about the horse or the sport of horse racing. It is about how an entire culture can be built around an idea, the idea that an underdog that no one expects to amount to anything can come from nowhere and rise to the top and inspire a nation. That is what is happening now in Mixed Martial Arts.

It is a pivotal time in the USA. We are all war and recession weary. We are all looking for something or someone to inspire us. The way we communicate is evolving. We have grown away from a two-way exchange of ideas around the campfire for stories and conversations to a one-way written society based on the written word. Sure, radio, television and film have transformed the delivery device but the exchange of ideas has still been primarily one-sided. “Everybody is talking at me,” to quote a phrase.

Today’s “New-media” is a way for us to get back around the campfire. It gives everyone the ability for expression that is unprecedented based on the speed and the scale of delivery. As Andy Warhol predicted in the late sixties, “In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.” That time is now. The motivation to become “famous” is merely an extension of our personal need for identity and individuality.

More and more people are identifying with Mixed Martial Arts and some of its’ stars and future stars. Now, more than ever, up and coming Mixed Martial Artists are gaining fans. Over the years the sport has evolved from “garage band” to “rock star” status. NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Detroit LionsThe beauty of this sport is that the mentality of the athletes has remained the same. The humility of most premier fighters, and even most legends of the game is unprecedented in any other sport. Let me explain; do you think that you could run routes with Calvin Johnson or Dez Bryant? Do you think you could ask Joe Montana how to throw a pass? Could you even get within 100 feet of Kobe Bryant?

My point is this; all across this great country are premier athletes working out in a gym near you. The accessibility of these top athletes is much more mainstream than the NFL, NBA, NHL or any other sport for that matter. If you want to pay your dues, you can walk into a gym and train with guys like Jens Pulver, Pat Militich and many others. If you want to be the best pat-miletich-jens-pulverMixed Martial Artist you can be, there are so many great gyms and great mentors who are more than willing to work with you. Now I’m not saying anyone could or should train with Brock Lesnar. I am simply saying that if you have the dream and the talent there are mentors and gyms out there that will help you. This is what makes Mixed Martial Arts the greatest sport in the world, the humility and the willingness to train with anyone that has the drive and desire. It is the true sport of kings.

In Bettendorf, Iowa, you can check out Miletich Fighting Systems and train around guys like Pat Miletich, Jens Pulver and Matt Hughes. In Albuquerque you can go into Jackson’s MMA with Gregg Jackson and train with greats like Jon Jones and Rashad Evans. In Vegas you can check out Xtreme Couture with the Natural, Randy Couture and see guys like Forrest Griffin and Evan Dunham. Or in Minneapolis you can check out Minnesota Martial Arts Academy with Gregg Nelson where Brock Lesnar and Sean Sherk trained. The list goes on and on.

Training in the world of Mixed Martial Arts has and always will be a blue-collar effort. It just seems as though the top athletes in this sport don’t forget where they come from and they give back to the sport much more than all other sports combined. There is a certain bond that the men and women that decide to step into the cage share. It is never broken, even after fame and fortune come, a true Mixed Martial Artist always returns to the gym. And that’s where you can find them doing what they have always done, training. There is a culture being built around that idea, and the underdog that no one expects to amount to anything is coming from places like Bettendorf, Iowa and rising to the top.

So remember today, the new sport of kings. The history that defines it is being rewritten with the blood, sweat and sacrifice of these men and women. This is where the passion of royalty has come to rest. And with it, all of us that love to take part in that passion.

Get the Attention of MMA Sponsors

It can be hard for you to get the attention of MMA sponsors.

Obviously, winning is great, but aside from that, what else can you do?

To get a definitive answer, I contacted 68 popular MMA fighters and figures and asked them:

“Other than winning fights, what are the 3 best things you can do to get noticed by MMA sponsors?”

This roundup is a shit-ton of awesomeness. Use the tips in this article, then start building your fan base and you, my dear friend, will become the apex predator!

Since there are so many names, I created a clickable index in the following section, and sorted it alphabetically. Which makes it easy for you to jump to your favorite fighter like a quick-draw McGraw, or scroll down and take it all in.

Exclusive Bonus: Get Instant Access to the top 5 ways to get noticed by MMA sponsors, as voted by the 68 fighters in this roundup!

Now then…LET’S DO THIS!

Battling Immortality…


He was too well dressed to be a Cowboy, his suit was pressed, nice tie and freshly shined shoes. I had no idea who he was when he walked up to our control booth. We were setting up for a live broadcast in Cheyenne, Wyoming of all places. My mind was on other things as he handed me a bright red folder with a Celtic looking crest on the front. I looked closer and noticed the words around the crest, “Legends of MMA, Hall of Fame.” asheHe extended his hand and said, “Ashe Bowman, I’m putting together an MMA Hall of Fame…” I thought to myself, that sounds like a good idea but what does he want from me? He explained his vision, in a smooth southern draw, as I worked. I don’t know if it was the idea or the sales pitch but the more he talked, the more I wanted to help. “The sport is much bigger than the UFC,” he said. And he was going to travel the country and contact each nominee personally. I wished him luck, got his number and told him to stay in touch. And now, Ashe Bowman’s vision to start the first ever MMA Hall of Fame has become reality.

The Legends of MMA Hall of Fame differs from the international boxing hall of fame in several ways but holds the same spirit of induction. “The sport is bigger than any organization ‘Al ah’ the UFC. People need to be recognized and people need to have a voice. We run this like the rock and roll hall of fame there is influence of the fans. You must me a good person inside and outside the ring,” says Ashe Bowman, CEO of the organization. Each inductee receives an official MMA HOF championship ring produced in 10k white gold and surround by 14 rubies valued at $2,500 each. 9573e89455b38ebef31a11e985a5edd6They also receive a serial numbered induction certificate and crystal award. Every HOF inductee has the opportunity for licensed merchandise and other ventures. “On the back end the fighters acquire a venue to generate income for the rest of their lives,” says Bowman.

The Legends Hall of Fame gives back a substantial portion of all proceeds, from all merchandise, to the men who earned it and built the sport from the ground up. The Legends of MMA HOF is also continually working to procure endorsements, product merchandising, television & motion picture appearances and roles for the inductees. “A percentage of retail merchandise is disbursed to each member providing them with post-career income, is the goal of the Legends of MMA HOF,” Says Bowman

The Legends of Hall of Fame wants to keep these fighters relevant and keep the sport accountable to their effort and dedication. They identify a distinction between the overall ‘sport” and the UFC. The Legends of MMA HOF is global and all encompassing. There were 20 nominees for the 2014 class of The Legends of MMA HOF. Only five will be inducted in November; Art Davie, Pat Miletich, Rickson Gracie, Fedor Emelianenko and Big John McCarthy. “The Legends of MMA HOF fans have also spoken and had a huge influence on the induction of Fedor,” says Bowman. “They Blew up Facebook and Twitter to voice their adoration for Fedor Emelianenko.” The Legends of MMA HOF takes fan opinion seriously and responds promptly.

From a fighters standpoint you must have 10 years experience and must have won a championship in a large Martial Arts Organization. Trainers must have at least 1 champion in any organization and anyone else depends on how much they have influenced the sport and that means advancing the sport in the public view.  Silver LegacyThis year, Inside MMA’s Ron Crook will host the ceremony at the Silver Legacy Casino in Reno, Nevada and the presenters include MMA Futures own Jens Pulver, Sean Wheelock and Monte Cox. “This is the first year we will have an award show,” says Bowman.

The Legends of MMA Hall of Fame is doing a great thing for the sport of MMA and the way they are going about it is even better. Congratulations to all of this years inductees and we look forward to many more to come.

Zen of the Cage


There is a Zen psychology to Mixed Martial Arts and there is no other experience quite as existential than stepping into the cage.  A lot of young fighters say that they don’t remember a damn thing that goes on in the cage until they watch the tape. Think about what their mind must go through when they are in the cage facing someone that wants to rip their head off. This is an intense moment. So why don’t they remember what happened?  They can recall bits and pieces but for the most part, they have no memory of the event. I would like to take a scientific approach to explain the phenomenon that a lot of fighters experience after a fight. And then try to explain how experience in the cage makes memory a lot clearer. So let’s treat this like we were writing a term paper for Cognitive Psychology. This is the Zen of the cage.

Let’s look at perceived demands or “stress level”, both physical and psychological, in the course of a Mixed Martial Arts event and how they effect a fighter’s performance using a collection of experiences of professional and amateur fighters as well as a military research study by Thomas, Adler, Wittles, Enne and Johanne (2004).

brain studyI will explore the effects of emotion and situation with regard to divided attention (multi-tasking) from preliminary training to the actual fight. I will be using my personal and a collection of professional and amateur fighter experiences from a variety of fighters in the Mixed Martial arts arena.

I believe that attention is flexible by way of repetition. I also believe that divided attention is a more flexible element of attention necessary for expanding “multi-task” capacity (and when I say “multi-tasking” I mean the ability to think, block, deliver, remember, evade and all of the things that have to happen simultaneously in a fight). In addition, I believe that emotion and situation directly effect performance and the ability to push behavior into an automatic function. I think that the physical and psychological effects of perceived demands or “stress level” (due to emotion and situation) directly effect the retrieval and storage of memory performance and  the efficiency of divided attention or the ability to multi-task.

With regard to divided attention or multi-task ability, I have found that attention can be freed up for a person to multi-task with some processes becoming automatic. I believe that the dynamics of divided attention (multi-tasking), in the MMA Cage, in relation to extensive practice are flexible. I will address three main points, which effect the flexibility of divided attention (multi-tasking). First, I will discuss the effects of emotion and situation on attention demands (in the MMA Cage) and its effect on retrieval. Second, I will discuss the separation of the physical and psychological demands as found by Thomas et al. Finally, I will discuss situational modifications for improving performance through personal and a collection of fighter experiences. I will address these points one at a time, respectively.

First, flexing the limits of attention with repetition. I believe that multi-task performance can be improved with repetition and that the confines of a person’s total attentional capacity can be flexed or expanded with practice. Automatic processing frees up resources for attention and retrieval to work more efficiently. Thompson and Tulving (1970) demonstrated the idea that when material is first put into LTM (long term memory), memory encoding depends on the context in which the material is learned. This memory encoding relies on situational context.  emotional brainThere is emotion-dependant memory, which effects the encoded memory information by emotional state.

Bower (1981) established that a person would recall more information if he or she were in the same emotion at recall time, that he or she was in at the time the memory is encoded.

In both instances situational context directly effects the efficiency of retrieval. I would thus contend that if one can step beyond the intensity of the situational context of an actual fight using emotion and other modifications one could vastly improve their performance in the MMA cage. As you can imagine, emotions run high, in front of a crowd of onlookers. Imagine yourself staring into the eyes of someone who wants to inflict as much pain upon you as possible. There is no training that can duplicate that emotion in the gym. Although one’s physical body is conditioned, the psychological demands are foreign to the fighter in the MMA Cage situation. If the fighter can duplicate this psychological situation and use a repetitive process of achieving the same emotional state, as in the MMA Cage, I believe that he or she can improve performance. Divided attention or multi-task ability has already been improved through the physical repetition. The problem now becomes the process of duplication, not so much in the physical but the psychological state in preparation for the fight. Retrieval of a larger overall strategy is imperative.  This can only be accomplished if the fighter can free up attention space and overcome the demands of a heightened emotional state and the context effect.

This brings me to our second point. I believe that physical and psychological demands must be dealt with equally. Thomas et al examined elite military troops and their performance on a number of stress related tasks. The study compared elite soldiers’ perceptions of physical and psychological demands over the course of an intensive military training exercise.  elite training The research hypotheses were that (1) perceptions of physical and psychological demands during unrehearsed training phase will be higher than routine training; (2) perceptions of physical and psychological demands during the recovery phase will be lower than during the unrehearsed training phase; and (3) psychological demands at recovery will be higher than at baseline, whereas physical demands at recovery will return to the base line level. The measures in which this study was conducted were questions followed by a 1 to 5 scale of demand (5 being the highest level of perceived demand). The question was; “In the past 24 hours, the (physical/ psychological) demands placed on me have been___?” Thomas et al found that hypothesis (1) did show a significant difference in the unrehearsed phase in both physical and psychological areas. Hypothesis (2) was not found to be of significance but there was a slight decrease in the recovery phase. In hypothesis (3) the psychological demands did not recover as quickly as the physical. The study concluded that assessing the separate impact of physical and psychological demands is inherently difficult because of the underlying psychological component to an intense, unrehearsed physical demand and the underlying physical component of many psychological demands.

The fact that training tends to emphasize the physical and not the psychological demands suggests the need that soldiers must train in both.  I would suggest the same from the experience that MMA fighters have had in the Cage. More experienced fighters remember more details of a fight. I believe that a change in the emotion and situation drastically effect divided attention. I would agree with Thomas et al in the assessment that physical and psychological demands are important but the emphasis in a fighter’s training has mostly been on the physical. exhausted fighterA fighter must also try to alter the emotion and situation into as many unrehearsed scenarios as possible and thereby decrease the demand or stress level at the time of the fight.

Finally, These situational modifications must be both physically demanding and unrehearsed. The effects of stress level during training, in the practical, MMA Cage, application clearly effect a fighters performance in retrieval and the efficient use of divided attention or multi-task ability. The study of Thomas et al,  is now very clear. A fighter’s emotion and situation directly effect performance and the ability to push behavior into an automatic function and the more repetition of all variables gives the fighter the ability to slow things down. That is why more experienced fighters remember more details of a fight. Thomas et al showed psychological demands during the unrehearsed phase of training were significantly higher. Thus, the intense unrehearsed training scenario was perceived as more physically and psychologically demanding than the routine scenario, this is also consistent with most fighters’ observations in the MMA Cage.

I would conclude that altering one’s stress level, at the time of training, with emotion and situational stressors will significantly improve one’s performance in the actual fight.  I would also conclude that one’s memory retrieval performance and the efficiency in which a fighter uses divided attention is drastically improved by increasing the levels of physical and psychological stress during training. Psychological training is a much more important aspect than the physical. I would thus contend that psychological stress can be used as a tool to alter a fighter’s ability to retain and increase automatic function (making higher levels of memory retrieval more efficient) by altering the emotion and situational levels during training. mma trainingThe fighter can more efficiently use his or her divided attention and decrease their perceived demands or stress level by increasing the physical and more importantly, the psychological demands during training. In the actual fight they are now much more effective and the fighter’s “stress training” with emotion and situational preparation has become critical.

Okay, that was a mouthful. There is a special psychology to Mixed Martial Arts.  The reason people can’t remember what happens in a fight is that our brains don’t have enough processing space and speed. If you think of your brain as a computer, attention is the processor (we only have so much speed). If we are using it all to process a complex equation like a fight, we can’t retrieve or save anything to RAM or our short-term memory (we only have so much space). And we sure as hell aren’t able to save anything to the Hard Drive or long-term memory (processor is not efficient enough). The way to improve is through experience. That is why seasoned fighters can remember what happens better than first timers. Their psychological processor is way more efficient. There is no substitute for the Zen experience. “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” – Sun Tzu

Meet a Fighter – Tecia Torres & Andrew Whitney


We were so happy to get the opportunity to meet and chat with Tecia Torres, a young lady you might know if you watch The Ultimate Fighter.  She started this season off ranked #3 and was upset in week one of the series.  She is a life long martial artists.  And you will also get the opportunity to meet Kansas City Native, Andrew Whitney, a 10-3 pro coming off his 1st win in a couple of years after dealing with a knee surgery.

To Liv-E-viL (Part 2)

A Tribute to Jens Pulver (Part 2)

By Tommy O

Act Two – Antagonism: By the time I went to treatment, near Des Moines, Iowa, the lesser stars that had assembled around Jens had faded, and his championship had vacated. His rigorous pride had become itself a kind of heroism. The poignant warrior had developed an unexpected quality of defiance. At that time it seemed like he was always coming back; back from ultimate wrestling, back from the UFO, the UCC, the EC, the IFC, hardly a season went by without some promotional change. Yet he always did just that; came back. And he always looked like himself. The delicate mechanism of timing and power seemed unshakeable, rigid, somewhat outside his body. But the game had changed since his departure from the UFC. And it was becoming a monster. Growing malignant like a karma cancer. The four lesser stars; jens BUno, Sera, Thomas and Penn were gathered in a tournament to crown a new champion. And as if the legend of Jens Pulver was taking back what they wanted to steal, none of them would claim it for six more years. Jens dabbled and won in wrestling and boxing but lost his first two MMA bouts after leaving the UFC. They say; a true competitor can only play up to the quality of his foe. Dropping a weight class, the descent in competition and a sense of worth had to be, for Jens, like that hurricane blowing through my mind. The hero was lost, searching, struggling and changing. He came back up in weight and entered the Pride Fighting Championships.

In 2004, well into a prime, so harassed and hobbled by transition and doubt, Jens was granted by the surrendering fortunes another chance at becoming champion. He took on Pride, reigning Champion, Takanori Gomi and lost after Gomi delivered a knockout uppercut in the first round. Jens was not the same fighter. He looked like a ghost of his former self, tired and discouraged and unconvincing. He never looked passionate to me, in the cage after that. There was a certain “bigness” to the cage now, all those high standards and all those lesser stars growing brighter. Time, for Jens Pulver, had become a relentless enemy. And, of course, in the shadows there were the rumors and the doubts. It would take at least one good run to get back to the Octagon and even then nothing was for sure. The final outcome in Pride was; Pulver 2, Time 2.

There was no television, no newspapers, no cigarettes, no coffee; one fifteen-minute phone call per week and the only thing to read was a bible and religious literature. I was in a place that boasted an eighty-five percent success rate although it drew a lot of parallels to a prison. This was not my first rodeo. I had been to treatment three previous times. But I knew this place was different, the first day I arrived. Everyone was smiling, happy. I did not know what was wrong with them. TCI showed up at 11:22 am, after the night of my final hurrah. I was still drunk. I paid my $400 entry fee and they put me to work cleaning the hallways with another suffragette. Months later, he told me, the odds on me making it more than a month were set at 100 to 1. The place was an Old Spanish style resort that had been neglected over the years and recently bought up by the treatment center. They were in the process of refurbishing. President George W. Bush had visited this place just a few months prior and invited the director to the Whitehouse. And he proudly displayed a handwritten note from the President, on Whitehouse Letterhead, that said, “Good to see you, Big W.” The director was a big man, a former offensive lineman for Iowa State. And for the next nine months I would get to know him and his family like my own.

I made it through the nine months. I also made it through the six-month transitional halfway house in Omaha. I was able to go back to work at my business during that time. The struggles continued for the business until I finally filed for bankruptcy in 2004. It was hard for me to keep track of Jens Pulver during that time. I had other things on my mind. It was as if he had disappeared. For the next two years I worked construction with my friend and trainer Kurt Podany. He trained me for my first Muay Thai fight. I was 37 years old and competing with guys 15 years my junior. I cannot put into words what fighting and training meant to me at that time in my life. It brought to me a calming peace amidst the violence and pain. All of those things that used to run through my mind, that hurricane of memory, fault, money, lost love and subdued aspiration would all go away as soon as I stepped into the ring. The cage had now become the eye of the hurricane for me. I wish I could say that I never touched a drop of alcohol after that but I can’t. I stumbled, I fell and I failed time after time. But now, I knew how to get back up, how to start over and keep going no matter what the consequence. My thinning mortal coil was not that insurmountable enemy anymore. I had always been in that fight but now, I was a fighter. And I knew that I could, and would, eventually win.

In 2006 that rocky marriage had finally found some common ground and a sort of bittersweet reconciliation. The UFC conceded that the lightweight division, newly reinstated, could not legitimize itself without its true inaugural champion. At UFC 63, Jens was matched against Joe Lauzon and the headliner, his old nemesis BJ Penn, would face Matt Hughes. Both men would lose and then face each other in season five of “The Ultimate Fighter.” In the finale Jens would lose to BJ Penn by way of a rear naked choke in the second round. A string of six losses, most in the jens CWEC (World Extreme Cagefighting) would soon follow. From January through April 2010, Jens filmed a documentary that led up to his fight against Javier Vazquez. A do or die comeback after suffering four previous losses in the cage. If you have not seen the movie “Driven,” put it on your to-do list. I had no idea what the depth of this man’s character was until I saw it on the big screen. A man who rose from a childhood laced with violence and substance abuse, to become one of the most loved and respected MMA fighters of all time. I understood what I loved about Jens Pulver. I understood why he wore his emotions on his sleeve. He managed to transcend personal tragedy and achieve greatness. All of us have shared in that fight, but not all of us, like Jens Pulver, had it played out in front of millions on pay-per-view. For the next two years his struggle would continue. From January of 2011 to November of 2013 he would take on ten more opponents resulting in a .500 performance.

I had to conclude that my hero was heroic not because of victory but how he recovered from defeat. A hero is ordinary; just a regular guy that finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles and loss. From time to time, I hear about stories of heroism, courage and bravery. Three types come to mind:

  1. The soldier on the battlefield.
  2. The famous celebrity. (athlete, entertainer, politician, etc)
  3. The People who suffer/recover from life-threatening diseases.

Which are the true heroes? Did they just do what most other people would do in similar circumstances (athletes or entertainers, did they do what most other people with similar talents/assets would have done)? Or were they simply involved in situations where they ended up proceeding along a single path, which was somewhat pre-determined? I reserve those words: Heroism, Courage, and Bravery for those exceptional individuals who demonstrate such a distinction. jens ANot just for those who simply did what anyone else would do in their shoes. Instead, I use those words to describe the exclusive few who took off the shoes that they had on, stepped off the well-paved road ahead, and chose to walk a very different and difficult path. These are the real Heroes. Jens Pulver is not my hero because he won battles or achieved notoriety or overcame obstacles. He is my hero because he always gets back up, takes off his own shoes and walks the difficult path along side those who ask.

In 2010 I moved back to my hometown. I had my ups and downs, hitting and missing but my family stood behind me. Thank God for them. I don’t know if I would have done the same for someone that was like me. After another DUI, I finally said enough is enough. I found a counselor and a group of friends that would eventually help me come to terms with my life and my struggle. I was working with my family again and doing contract film and photo work on the side. The antagonism of life had set in at times and it made me wonder if there was a purpose to all of it. Contemplating a resolving bullet revolved in whatever semblance of reason remained in my soul. It’s funny how life happens while you are making other plans. In late 2012, my friend Nathan Rogers and I decided to begin broadcasting MMA events locally. We started small, covering just three events our first year. We launched a website and started traveling, visiting gyms in the region and interviewing up and coming fighters. We wanted to tell their stories but we had no idea where that would lead.


Meet a Fighter – James Krause


James Krause, well what can you say about this guy? This man is smart and driven and the true definition of what it takes to be a great athlete.  He’s invested his winnings very wisely in a gym that has all the potential to be one of the if not the best gym in the midwest. He also puts his team and his fans first.  In this interview, James talks with us about Glory MMA, gives some advice to up and coming athletes and touches on UFC 178 and what he thinks of the card and his upcoming fight.  Oh and GOMI!

Is the Business of MMA Destroying the Sport?


UFC1vhsLets be honest MMA isn’t what it once was.  I would say it’s evolved for the better.  We have sanctioning bodies who’s primary goal is to make sure fighters are safe.  Many new weight classes have evolved from the old days.  Women are getting in the cage.  All in all the sport has grown for the better. But when a sport evolves so does the money wrapped up in it and the business surrounding the sport comes out.

Fighters get managers, agents and PR people these days to help them steer their career in the right direction. That being said, managers have a lot to lose if a fighter they represent, takes a loss in the professional ranks.  A single loss can set a fighter back months if not longer.  So fighters, a manager truly believes in, are set up to never take a loss. This takes away from the fans. This also takes away from the sport, because if you enjoy going to local fights you will never see the elite fighters put to the test or even fight top notch competition because they are set up to win.  A lot of promotions aren’t going to want you to know this, but it’s true.  I have had promoters tell me they know who is going to win every fight before the fights take place.  [pullquote align=left]
This really makes a fighters’ record irrelevant, you’ve got to go through and look closely at who all they have fought.
[/pullquote]  Now, there are some exceptions. There are a few organizations that are able to control matchups a little better because for the most part the fighters are contracted with them and the promotion has control.

UFC-177-PosterThe list of fighters that have made it to the UFC that weren’t ready for one reason or another is an ever growing list. Now not every fighter cut from the UFC is cut because the fighter isn’t ready, many are because a fighter is on the decline, or just can’t cut it with the new up and coming talent.  But for this article I want to focus on the guys that weren’t ready. The guys that have had the road paved for them to get there.  Well they get there and then what?  I will say that promotions like RFA, Titan and, and other large regional shows are turning out to be the way for these guys to get there and know they are ready.  The promoters take more control over the fights, have access to a greater amount of fights and more skilled fighters.

Bellator_logo_hires_transpNow let me throw in another twist.  Bellator.  With them letting Eddie Alverez out of his contract this may change, but from what I am told the way the Bellator contract is set up they have complete control.  And it’s because of this that they will never be able to compete with the UFC.  The UFC at this point, is the sport! The UFC is the dream of every fighter out there. And any fighter that has aspirations to fight in the UFC will avoid Bellator because once they commit they are stuck.  Is this good to grow the sport?  In my opinion not really, they won’t be able to become competitive by growing with the younger kid so in order for Bellator to make a big swing at the UFC they would have to sign away several top athletes from the UFC and lets be honest that’s not going to happen.TitanFC_LogosmRFA_Logo2

So how do we as fans encourage a change? Step 1- I think it starts in the amateur ranks, I see way too many kids customizing fights in the amateur ranks and making the jump before they are ready.  In my opinion I don’t think an amateur should ever go pro after a loss, there is a reason they lost, and it means they aren’t ready, the competition is only going to be more difficult at the pro level.  Step 2 – These pro’s need to be taking tough fights, there is a difference between a bad matchup and a tough fight.  Step 3 Up and coming fighters, guys and gals, need to be fighting in the “Minor leagues” those smaller regional promotions we spoke about earlier.  This is the best way for these fighters to know they are ready, and the best way to rate their readiness, because  now you can trust their record.

So, is the business of MMA destroying the sport?  No, but it is changing the direction the sport is heading. The sport will evolve and the fans that love it will follow.  Whether it be putting fighters in uniforms or which fighters make it all the way, it is and always will be a business. I’m sure many more “business” decisions in the future will alter the path of Mixed Martial Arts again.  But only time will tell.


Why would I become a fighter?

“If you have discipline, drive and determination…nothing is impossible.”- Dana Linn Bailey.

I try to take this quote mentality through my life and training every day. I believe that if I work hard enough and dedicate myself every day to becoming a better fighter and person I can achieve whatever goals I set to myself. I may not have to same reason as others for fighting nor the background that some fighters have but I started fighting a little less than a year ago with little to no background with wrestling or martial arts. I was around the sport quite some time before I decided I wanted to take the personal challenge. Not a whole lot of females do it with the pure fact most do not have the background. I have always been huge into fitness and health, and decided one day I was going to step in the cage and fight, multiple people doubted me. I am one who strives off of people telling me I can’t, or I won’t, I took all the negative words I received and began working. I did not start my MMA career on the right foot; I was training independently with Cody Land when I took my first fight. Looking back, I was no means ready, but I was determined, I lost my first fight, but with a loss, this did not stop me. I went back to the drawing board and started over. I was offered a fight five months later against a tough girl who had been training quite some time, at this point I had established myself at a gym and was vigorously training, learning new things daily. Going in to this fight, I felt confident, strong, and well prepared. We went a three round battle, and lost by decision. However, we ended up getting rewarded fight of the night for going to war. I have now found my home at Lincoln MMA, in Lincoln Nebraska, where I have a strong team who backs me. I recently fought in Columbus, where I received my first win; I cannot even begin to explain how much I wanted this win and how hard I worked for this win. I know I have a bright future ahead of me, with the dedication and determination I have. I would like to take a moment to thank my gym, Lincoln MMA, Jeff Alexander for being a phenomenal coach, my corner men, and teammates. Thank you to Train with Dc Management/Dynasty Combat Sports for always providing outstand shows for us fighters to fight on, huge thank you to Tower Robinson and Justin Weaver for always keeping me in check. Also, thank you Nate Rogers and MMA Futures for giving me the opportunity to write this article.

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Follow my fight career and me via social media.

Full Contact Country Club


[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he specter of Manuel Noriega and the memory of death and the scattered pedals of the Ispiritu Santo still haunt Panama like a bad dream three worlds away. But it’s not like that for everyone however; the wealthy still prosper while the poor still struggle to find an escape. And the sport built on the blood, sweat and tears of the masses has become the elitist’s country club. Mixed Martial Arts is no longer a working class sport in Panama, they have simply, been priced out.

John & Adrianna

“We just want to help kids through the sport of MMA and get them off the street,” says Adriana Lucia Espinal. Adriana and her husband, John Barragán started The White Lion-Team Lopez Gym three years ago in La Chorrera, Panama, a small town northwest of Panama City. “We started in a small local area, then we put our savings into the building. It was all ripped apart, we made it from nothing.” Adriana admits that it has been a struggle. “When we first started this project people were laughing at us and telling us we were crazy. Now they have respect for what we are doing.”

White Lion - Team Lopez
White Lion – Team Lopez

Financial disparity in Panama is one of the worst in the world. Over a quarter of Panama’s more than three and a half million people live in poverty, mostly in the rural areas like La Chorrera. The minimum wage in Panama is about $2.31 per hour and monthly membership fees to an MMA gym range from $60 to $300 per month. The White Lion Gym charges $20 per month to those that can afford it. But former Pro fighter and White Lion co-owner, John Barragán has taken it upon himself to pay for those who can’t.

fight pic
After The Win!

The White Lion-Team Lopez Gym has helped over 100 students over the past three years and is now working on non-profit status. Adriana explains, “The meaning of the lion on our logo is because we give our boys a Christian foundation, we want them to know there’s a God who guides us. It represents the lion of Judah.” Team Lopez competes in leagues in Panama and Costa Rica and they have been winning. “When our kids win, it makes people respect what we are doing even more,” says Adriana. Adriana tells us, “We have some sponsors that give us T-shirts, gear and even supplements but we are on our own when it comes to the operating costs.”

Coaching the Corner
Coaching the Corner

John no longer has time to compete. He spends all of his time working with the kids. Barragán feels that MMA clears their heads and he has become a shining example for these kids to follow. They find common ground with him and are able to open up to him about their lives, hopes and dreams. The White Lion-Team Lopez gym holds these kids to a higher standard. Barragán says, “I am the only coach for about 25 kids at a time. They have to stay in school and get good grades to train with me.” And according to Adriana, they do. “We have only had to let a few go but they come back when their grades are up.”

John coaching one of his team.

While the disparity in Panama may seem insurmountable to some, the hope that organizations like the White Lion-Team Lopez can give to these kids is immeasurable. For them, it is not about the money, the title or the fame, it is about pride and honor. This is the pure sport of MMA. And this sport built on the blood, sweat and tears of THESE kids will never be found in any country club.


These guys need tons of help and support to help contact us info@mmafutures.com

MMA Futures Scouting Report: Defining “Prospects”


Welcome to the first edition of the MMA Futures Report.  This weekly piece will highlight all things prospects.  In the sport of MMA there are always fighters on the rise.  There are always fighters on the verge of breaking into the UFC or other major MMA promotions.  All other sports have scouts and other people who look into their sport’s best prospects.  As a sport, MMA began with limited skill sets.  Usually a  fighter had a martial arts background. Perhaps a guy would have a wrestling or jiu jitsu background.  However, what we saw in the early days is that those particular fighters were not very skilled in other disciplines. What we see now is that higher level athletes are entering the sport with high level skills in all martial arts disciplines. This is the future of MMA.

Big Three LogosI have found that one of the most misunderstood words in MMA today is the word “prospect.”  Perhaps no word has become more cliche.  Perhaps no word has become more mis-used in the MMA vernacular.   I have heard the term used in such a variety of ways and applied to such a wide variety of fighters.  I have seen fighters ranked in the top 10 in the world hailed a “good prospect”.  I have seen fighters who are thirty-five years old and over referred to as a “prospect”.  I have seen UFC, Strikeforce, and Bellator veterans referred to as prospects.  The reality is that there is some ambiguity here.  I am not trying to sound postmodern, but the world is difficult to clearly define.  I would contend that it is harder to define who is a prospect and who has gone past the “prospect” stage in MMA more than other sports.  When does a fighter stop being a prospect?

When we started making lists of the top prospects in each weight class, we had to make some type of clear cut distinctions between who was a “prospect” and who was not. For us, we decided that a prospect was a fighter who had never had a contract with a major promotion (UFC, Strikeforce, or Bellator). Also, we thought that some type of age cap had to be made. We made that age 33. The amount that a fighter can improve post-33 is limited. Admittedly, there are exceptions to these rules. There are fighters who have really developed post-prime. However, that is the exception, not the norm. I have a hard time classifying a guy with 30 fights (even 20 fights) as a prospect. I have a hard time calling a 35-year old journeyman as a prospect.  It is quite insulting as a matter of fact.  So, when a guy signs with a major promotion, sink or swim, we remove them out of the realm of “prospects” and into the world of “established”. There is nothing wrong with that. Being an established fighter is not an insult. In fact, I would contend it is quite the compliment. It is saying a fighter is world class.

There will always be people who make prospect lists who include guys in their mid-30’s and have more experience than UFC champions. There will always be people who classify highly ranked fighters with big named wins on their resumes as “prospects”. However, I think there needs to be some consistency with terms.  We might be able to argue age and experience. We might be able to argue ceiling, potential, and upside. The truth is, a prospect is someone who has the prospect of being on a world class level. Once they start fighting elite competition on a regular basis, they are no longer have the prospect of being high level…they already are.


Don’t misunderstand… “prospect” does not mean someone who is still improving their skills.  If that was the extent of the definition, then everyone would be a “prospect”. I would wager that 43-year old Dan Henderson would tell you that he is learning and improving as a fighter. If that was the definition, Jon Jones would be merely a “prospect” because he has yet to reach his athletic prime. It seems that for most people there is very little space that a fighter can find between “prospect” and “washed up”. I think there are far more fighters in that middle area than we allow. I think there are more fighters who fall into the “established” and “world class” category.

So, let’s be careful throwing the term “prospect” around.  Let’s be more willing to admit when a guy moves out of the realm of “prospect” and into the realm of “world class” or “established veteran”. In the end, we may be arguing semantics. However, words mean something. Words are vehicles of thought. I think it is good to use the right words in the right ways.

With all that said, let me give you ten names that fit the bill quite well. These are the guys that I believe right now are the best prospects in the sport regardless of weight class… 

1. Nicolas Dalby –

Nicolas Dalby
Nicolas Dalby

The product of Denmark is 12-0 in his professional career. Dalby looks to take that mark to 13-0 on September 13th when he takes on Gael Grimaud in his first Cage Warriors welterweight title defense. At 28-years old I look for Dalby to be in the UFC by years end. A win in his next fight certainly makes his case. I do not know if Dalby is the best long term prospect on this list, but I would say he comes in at number one because he may have the best case to get into the UFC right now.

2. Islam Makhachev –

Islam Makhachev
Islam Makhachev

The 22-year old Dagestani may be the next big thing out of the talent rich region. His training partner, Khabib Nurmagomedov raves about his skills. He boasts a perfect 10-0 record which includes a win over Mansour Barnaoui. It is quite possible that Makhachev is the best of the Russian lightweight prospects. Given his age and current skill set he really could do very well. Like many of the fighters under contract with M-1, I am not sure if there is an easy way out, but I am quite certain that he is on UFC and Bellator’s radar. He very well could be the next Russian to find big time success in the UFC.

3. Gleristone Santos –

Gleristone Santos
Gleristone Santos

The fighter known as Toninho Furia may be one of the most dynamic on this list. He is fun to watch. To be honest, out of all the guys on this list, he is the one that I am most surprised UFC has not picked up yet. He has a 26-4 career record and is just 25-years old. I believe that Santos could make waves in the featherweight division.

4. Marcin Tybura –

Marcin Tybura
Marcin Tybura

The 28-year old Polish Heavyweight has made his case for a call to the UFC. He boasts a perfect 10-0 record. On August 15th he will get his toughest test in the form of Damian Grabowski. Both of those guys have been calling for a UFC chance, so do not be shocked if the winner gets called. While I have some questions about his stand up skills, Tybura has a solid ground game that could notch him some wins in the UFC.

5. Larissa Pacheco –

Larissa Pacheco
Larissa Pacheco

At 10-0 and only 19-years old Pacheco has a bright future. The female bantamweight champion of Jungle Fight has to be on the UFC radar. Not only because she is a young prospect, but they always seems to pay attention to Jungle Fights. The dilemma for Pacheco is there really are not many credible opponents left in Brazil. It is time for her to start fighting stateside. Invicta would be a good option, but I think her sights are set on the UFC.

6. Damon Jackson –

Damon Jackson
Damon Jackson

Jackson really jumped up this list on the heels of a dominant win over Leonard Garcia to claim the Legacy FC featherweight title. Jackson has fantastic submissions and lives up to his moniker, “the Leech”. Jackson comes in with a 9-0 career record. He is just 25-years old, so he is still approaching his fighting prime. I think Jackson is a guy who could not only get into the UFC, but could also do well. The word on the street was that had Leonard Garcia won that fight he would have been offered a UFC contract, perhaps UFC sends that offer Jackson’s way.

7. Mizuki Inoue –

Mizuki Inoue
Mizuki Inoue

Inoue is a phenom. She is 19 years old and full of talent. Mizuki has a 7-2 record that does not tell the whole story. In her last fight at DEEP Jewels 3, she defeated Emi Tomimatsu, however because she missed weight, DEEP changed the result to a disqualification loss. I do know that the UFC wants this girl. When they starting planning out their female strawweight division, she was reached out to, however DEEP would not let her out of her contract. I would assume that whenever that contract is completed she will be in the UFC. Inoue fights Tomimatsu again on Saturday. If she can make weight consistently she could be a world champion…she is THAT good.

8. Leandro Higo –

Leandro Higo
Leandro Higo

Higo very well could have been much higher on this list. However, he has struggled to find opponents. He has had fights fall apart left and right. There are some questions concerning his ability to get a U.S.Visa. It looks as though he is no longer considering fighting at flyweight. He has asked for fights at bantamweight and even featherweight. So, the uncertainty there hurts him, and in reality probably hurts him with the UFC. All of that aside, Higo has tons of talent. Training with the Pitbull brothers and the Nogueira, he has a very well rounded game. I do think Higo will need one or two quality wins before he would sign with UFC. Currently in a deal with RFA, there is no word on his U.S. debut.

9. Mansour Barnaoui –

Mansour Barnaoui
Mansour Barnaoui

I believe Mansour is one of the brightest prospects on this list. He is just 21-years old and already has a solid 11-2 record. Those two losses have come to Kevin Lee and Islam Makhachev. However, Barnaoui also has notable wins over UFC veterans Colin Fletcher and Curt Warburton. The BAMMA lightweight champ is one fight away from the UFC, in my opinion. That is what his camp thinks too. I would imagine that we will hear pretty soon from BAMMA what is next for the young champion.

10. Pietro Menga –

Pietro Menga
Pietro Menga

Menga currently sits as my top available flyweight prospect. To be honest, it is not easy to find flaw in someone like Menga who has shown really good wrestling skills. We have seen him land really good takedowns, especially off of catching his opponents kicks. He has very technical grappling. Menga is 12-0 now and has hopes of a UFC contract offer. There had been a rumor a whole back that he was in talks with UFC, but nothing materialized. I would imagine those rumors become reality before too long.


Meet Gaston Tonga Reyno

Meet Gaston Tonga Reyno, owner, coach and fighter out of Glory MMA and Fitness in Kansas City. We don’t love the sport because of the fights we love it because of the people. And Gaston “Tonga” Reyno is a prime example of a great leader and one to follow by example. We hope you enjoy him as much as we did. Expect to see more from this guy.

Patrick Fletcher vs Leviticus Roberson

Patrick Fletcher makes his cage debut against the tough Leviticus Roberson

Niko Carbajal: A Fighter’s Journey Back to the Cage


In the world of mixed martial arts, resilience and determination are often the defining traits of fighters. One such fighter, Niko Carbajal, hailing from Omaha, Nebraska, is about to step back into the cage after a nine-year hiatus. In an exclusive interview with MMA Futures, Niko shared his story, his motivations, and what this comeback means to him

The Journey Back:
Niko Carbajal’s journey in martial arts began with wrestling during his youth, a sport that instilled discipline and determination in him. After high school, he ventured into grappling and soon found himself in the world of professional MMA. However, life took him in a different direction, and he put his fighting career on hold.

For nine years, Niko put his focus on family and other aspects of life. But the fire to compete never truly extinguished. “This is what I enjoy doing,” Niko said when asked why he chose to return to the cage. Over the years, he received numerous fight offers, but it was only recently that he decided to say yes.

Facing Justin Weaver:
Niko’s return fight is against Justin Weaver at Kearney Cage Wars, which can be watched live at mmafutures.live on September 9th. Both fighters have taken time off from the sport, making this bout an intriguing matchup.

For Niko, stepping back into the cage holds deep emotional significance. It has been nine years since his last fight, a period marked by personal loss and life changes. This fight represents not just a comeback but a new beginning, a chance to honor his late brother and pursue his passion once again.

Preparation and Mindset:
Despite his time away from the cage, Niko has been diligently preparing for his return. Recognizing that his opponent, Justin Weaver, is a formidable grappler, he has focused on cardio conditioning and rehab work. Niko aims to ensure he can endure whatever comes his way during the fight.

When asked about the mental aspect of returning after such a long hiatus, Niko likened it to riding a bike, acknowledging that some skills never truly fade. His wrestling background, ingrained in him since childhood, is expected to resurface as he gets back into grappling.

The Future:
Niko Carbajal’s comeback isn’t just about this one fight. He envisions a future filled with more fights, provided this journey goes as planned. While he currently lacks a home gym, Niko’s priority is to get back into the regional MMA scene, building new connections and pursuing a career in the sport once again.

Niko Carbajal’s story is one of resilience, perseverance, and passion for the sport of MMA. His return to the cage after a nine-year hiatus is a testament to the enduring spirit of fighters. As he steps into the cage to face Justin Weaver at Kearney Cage Wars on September 9th, fans and fellow fighters alike will be watching closely, eager to witness the next chapter in Niko’s journey. MMA Futures invites you to tune in and witness this remarkable comeback live at mmafutures.live.

Kearney Cage Wars Returns with a Bang: Nebraska Legends and Exciting Matchups Await!


Kearney, Nebraska – September 9th, 2023Dynasty Combat Sports is back in Kearney with a sensational night of mixed martial arts action. After a long-awaited hiatus, the stage is set for an adrenaline-pumping event that promises to deliver thrilling matchups and unforgettable moments. Get ready to witness Nebraska legends return to the cage, rising stars battling for supremacy, and female warriors showcasing their skills. The event will be streamed live on MMAFutures.LIVE, so MMA enthusiasts worldwide won’t miss a moment of the action.

Main Event: Jose Hernandez vs. Ashton Caniglia
The professional main event features two formidable fighters, Jose Hernandez and Ashton Caniglia, squaring off in what promises to be an explosive showdown. Both fighters are known for their tenacity and never-say-die spirit, making this bout a must-watch for MMA fans.

Co-Main Event: Justin Weaver vs. Niko Carbajal
Prepare for an epic clash as two Nebraska legends, Justin Weaver and Niko Carbajal, make their long-awaited return to the cage. These warriors have a storied history in the MMA world, and their co-main event matchup is sure to be a highlight of the evening.

Featured Women’s MMA Fight: Jori Waln vs. Vanessa Chavez
The women will also take center stage as Jori Waln goes head-to-head with Vanessa Chavez in a featured matchup. Women’s MMA has seen tremendous growth in recent years, and these athletes are poised to demonstrate their skills and determination.

Additional Exciting Fights on the Card:

  • Hunter Osentowski vs. Cauy Shaw
  • Jareb Huerta vs. Francisco Juan
  • Tim Wetenkamp vs. Gil Martinez
  • Haydyn Premer vs. Francis McMaster
  • Jakob Buck vs. Brandon DeBower
  • Jaret Hiemstra vs. C. Domenick
  • Zach Huerta vs. Colin Weis

Each fight on the card promises intense action and displays of grit, making this event a true showcase of Nebraska’s MMA talent.

Where to Watch: MMAFutures.LIVE
Can’t make it to Kearney? Don’t worry, MMAFutures.LIVE has you covered. Tune in to the live stream on September 9th, 2023, to witness all the heart-pounding action, brutal knockouts, and unforgettable moments from the comfort of your home.

Get Your Tickets
For those lucky enough to be in Kearney, make sure to grab your tickets and be part of the electrifying atmosphere at the event venue. It’s an opportunity to witness history in the making as these fighters give it their all inside the cage.

Don’t Miss Kearney Cage Wars
Mark your calendars for Saturday night, September 9th, 2023, and be prepared for a night of explosive MMA action. Kearney Cage Wars is back with a vengeance, and you won’t want to miss it. Whether you’re a dedicated MMA fan or just looking for an unforgettable night out, this event has something for everyone. Tune in to MMAFutures.LIVE or secure your tickets to witness the return of Nebraska legends and the rise of new MMA stars in Kearney!

Justin Weaver: The Comeback Kid Returns to the Cage – Catch the Action on September 9th PPV!


In the world of mixed martial arts, fighters often embody the spirit of resilience, dedication, and an unquenchable thirst for victory. Justin Weaver, a name that resonates with MMA enthusiasts, exemplifies these qualities. After a two-year hiatus, this seasoned fighter is making a comeback to the cage, and fans are in for a treat. On Saturday, September 9th, 2023, you can witness his triumphant return in a thrilling fight that promises to be a spectacle of skill, strategy, and pure heart. Don’t miss the action; get ready to watch it all unfold live on PPV!

The Weaver Journey: A Fighter’s Tale

Justin Weaver’s journey in the world of MMA is a story of passion, perseverance, and a relentless pursuit of excellence. His time away from the cage was marked by significant life changes, including a new job and the joyous arrival of his son, Declan. Balancing these responsibilities while nurturing his fighting spirit posed a challenge, but true fighters find a way.

Weaver, like many fighters, understands the importance of self-care and responsible training. Injuries and the natural wear and tear on the body were part of the equation. However, Justin never lost sight of his ultimate goal: to return to the cage and leave it all there.

Dynasty Combat Sports: A Homecoming Worth the Wait

The return of Dynasty Combat Sports to Kearney, Nebraska, is a homecoming Justin Weaver and his fans have eagerly awaited. This promotion has been absent from Kearney for two years, marking the same duration as Weaver’s hiatus. It’s almost poetic how their paths align once more.

Kearney Combat Sports, a gym where Justin has poured sweat and soul into both training and coaching, plays a pivotal role in this narrative. The gym’s commitment to building a disciplined, hardworking fight team sets the stage for an unforgettable night.

Unaffiliated But Always Home

Weaver’s upcoming fight might be as unaffiliated as it gets, but Kearney Combat Sports remains his anchor. Justin’s dedication to maintaining a fair playing field and avoiding any perception of favoritism by not fighting under the Kearney banner showcases his integrity. Yet, he makes it clear that Kearney Combat Sports is where his heart lies.

The camaraderie and shared journey of fighters and coaches create an atmosphere that Justin continues to cherish. It’s not just about the individual battles; it’s about the collective spirit that drives the fight family forward.

Preparing for Battle: Justin’s Training Regimen

As fight night approaches, Justin Weaver has been hard at work. His focus includes ramping up his cardio, sharpening his stand-up game, and fine-tuning the grappling skills that have defined his career. Coaching at Kearney Combat Sports and participating in grappling competitions have expanded his knowledge and skillset, enriching his approach to the sport.

The Transition from Fighter to Coach

Justin’s transition from a fighter to a coach has been a gradual process, marked by the love he has for sharing his knowledge and passion with others. It’s a role that he relishes, even as he continues to keep one foot in the cage. While he acknowledges the inevitability of eventually retiring from competition, his coaching journey is just beginning.

A Fight Family’s Legacy

The Weaver family’s love for martial arts is deeply ingrained. Justin’s wife brings a strong traditional martial arts background to the table, while their children are actively involved in wrestling and jiu-jitsu. Martial arts have become more than just a passion; it’s a way of life for the Weavers, a unique bond that keeps them healthy and connected.

A Farewell to a Friend

In the bittersweet world of MMA, farewells are an inevitable part of the journey. Justin’s friend, Tower Robinson, recently retired from fighting, bringing mixed emotions to the fighting community. While it’s tough to say goodbye to someone who’s been part of the journey, it’s also a reminder of the importance of fighters knowing when to step away for their well-being.

Fighter’s Heart, Family’s Support

Justin Weaver embodies the fighter’s spirit, a commitment to his craft, and an unbreakable bond with his family. With their unwavering support and determination, he is set to make his comeback to the cage a memorable one.

Join Us for Justin Weaver’s Return – September 9th, 2023!

On September 9th, 2023, mark your calendars, set your alarms, and clear your schedules. Justin Weaver’s return to the cage promises to be a thrilling spectacle of heart and skill. Don’t miss out on this incredible journey of passion, dedication, and the unwavering spirit of a fighter. Tune in to the PPV broadcast on MMAFutures.live and witness history in the making.

Justin Weaver is back, and he’s ready to leave it all in the cage. Will you be there to witness his triumphant return?

The Continued Evolution: Technology, Analytics, and Fighter Development

The mid-teens to the present day have witnessed a significant focus on technology, analytics, and fighter development in MMA. These advancements have revolutionized the sport, providing fighters and coaches with valuable tools to enhance performance and gain a competitive edge.

Sports science and technological innovations have played a crucial role in optimizing training regimens and injury prevention. Fighters now have access to state-of-the-art facilities, advanced equipment, and cutting-edge techniques to improve their strength, conditioning, and overall athleticism.

Analytics and data-driven approaches have become integral to fight preparation and game planning. Fighters and their teams utilize video analysis, statistical breakdowns, and performance metrics to gain insights into their opponents’ tendencies and weaknesses. This information helps fighters tailor their strategies and maximize their chances of success inside the cage.

bowl of vegetable salad
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In addition, advancements in nutrition and weight cutting methods have helped fighters achieve peak performance while maintaining their health and well-being. Scientifically designed diets and weight management protocols allow athletes to make weight safely and perform optimally on fight night.

Furthermore, social media and digital platforms have revolutionized fighter promotion and fan engagement. Fighters now have the ability to connect directly with their fans, build their personal brands, and attract sponsorship opportunities.

Looking ahead, the continued integration of technology, sports science, and analytics will further shape the future of MMA. Virtual reality training, augmented reality analysis, and advancements in wearable technology are just a few examples of the innovations that will continue to drive the evolution of the sport.

The International Influence: The Rise of Champions from Around the World


In recent years, MMA has seen an influx of talented fighters from various corners of the globe. The sport’s international expansion has brought forth champions from diverse backgrounds, adding a global flavor to the MMA landscape.

Fighters from countries like Brazil, Russia, Nigeria, and Australia have risen to prominence and captured titles in their respective weight classes. These champions, such as Khabib Nurmagomedov, Israel Adesanya, and Alexander Volkanovski, have showcased their skills and represented their countries with pride. They have brought unique fighting styles and techniques, enriching the sport and further establishing MMA as a global phenomenon.

Khabib Nurmagomedov, hailing from Dagestan, Russia, enjoyed an undefeated professional career and dominated the UFC lightweight division. Known for his relentless grappling and suffocating ground game, Nurmagomedov showcased the strength of his wrestling background and became one of the most dominant champions in MMA history.

Israel Adesanya, a Nigerian-born New Zealand fighter, burst onto the scene and captured the UFC middleweight title with his exceptional striking prowess and dynamic style. Adesanya’s background in kickboxing brought a new level of technical striking to the octagon, captivating fans with his precision and fluidity.

Alexander Volkanovski, an Australian fighter, rose through the ranks to become the UFC featherweight champion. With a relentless pace, strong wrestling, and powerful striking, Volkanovski displayed the depth of talent emerging from Australia and the Pacific region.

These champions, among many others, have elevated the sport on a global scale, showcasing the incredible talent and diversity of MMA fighters worldwide. They have broken barriers and shattered stereotypes, inspiring a new generation of athletes to pursue their dreams in the world of mixed martial arts.