"Brenneman wins convincingly"
By Nate Foreman
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Hollidaysburg’s Charlie Brenneman (right) battles Mitch Whitesel in the last bout of the night.
If any spectators at the Valley Fight League Mixed Martial Arts event at the Jaffa Shrine Friday night didn't know who the favorite was in the headlining match, they had to wait all night to find out.
Literally until the last fighter was introduced.
When Charlie "The Spaniard" Brenneman walked to the cage, the place blew up and he didn't disappoint his hometown crowd as he outlasted Mitch Whitesel in a unanimous decision.
"I knew it was going to be a tough fight going into it," Brenneman said. "He was big, strong, and he wouldn't give in. He went at it for the whole 15 minutes."
Brenneman dominated the bout after dropping Whitesel to the mat in each of the three rounds. In the second round, he connected on multiple rights, but Whitesel somehow managed to squirm to his knees.
"He did a real good job of holding me tight when I was on top so it was hard for me to get my action going," Brenneman said. "Even when I got the mount, I couldn't really capitalize on it."
Both fighters drew blood in the first round, but Brenneman - who sported a nasty gash above his left eye - had to plead his case to the ring-side physician so the fight wouldn't be called.
"I didn't even realize I cut him," Brenneman said before explaining how he got his cut. "I was on top. He just got a little bit of distance, came across with a quick elbow. I felt it right away. It exploded. I started bleeding on him. The doctor almost stopped it after the first round. I could still see, and that's all that mattered."
All in all, the 170-pounder got the judges to score the match 30-27 each, thanks mostly to the work he did from being in control on the mat.
"He got the takedowns every round. That's how he won the fight," Whitesel said. "Charlie's a tough guy. I think we both had the same amount of damage. He cut me, I cut him. But it was those takedowns."
"We were probably 50-50 on our feet, but those takedowns - being in control really helped," Brenneman said. "It wasn't my prettiest fight. I wish I would have done better, but it is what it is and I got the victory."
Earlier in the evening, former Pitt-Johnstown wrestler and amateur Thad Benton had the venue rocking with a first round submission over Sam Monroe of Altoona in 1:47.
"I just went out there and tried to stay on my feet a little while, tried to box. But he came in and got too close and I did what I do best - I took him down and was wrestling," Benton said. "I landed a couple of good elbows and some good knees and he set himself straight up for an arm-choke. I stepped over and finished it off."
In a pro bout, Justin Finnegan ground-and-pounded his way to a first-round referee stoppage over Jeff Pender in 2:51. Both fighters hail from Altoona, but it was apparent the crowd support for Finnegan drove him to the technical knockout.
"You know, that was the biggest part - the support," Finnegan said. "They loved me out there. They really fueled me. They gave me what I needed to do that. I heard them screaming, I heard them yelling and chanting my name. That just drove me to win."
The quickest bout of the event, though, was a mere three fights into the night.
Altoona's Kevin Myers laid out Eric Mason with a right hook just 15 seconds into the match for a knockout.
"I felt him staying back. I thought he was a little intimidated. That's when I moved in," Myers said. "I faked with a kick, I just caught him with that right hook, and that was all she wrote.
"It's just a fight. I'm not going to get all hyped up about it because the same thing could have happened to me."
Notes: Police broke up a brief skirmish between fans in the upper lever late in the evening. Frank Armstrong, looking to make his pro debut, and amateur fighter Buster Crandall did not have bouts due to their opponents backing out of the event.
Lucas Emigh def. Blair Leydig by submission, first round, 1:39.
Matt Caputo def. Ryan Glunt by submission, first round, 1:04.
Kevin Myers def. Eric Mason by KO, first round, 0:15.
Scott Wible unanimous decision over Steve Richie, 29-28, 30-27, 30-27.
Justin Head unanimous decision over Matt Dean, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27.
Thad Benton, def. Sam Moore by submission, first round, 1:47.
Guy Jackson split decision over Brett Thomas, 29-28, 28-29, 29-28.
Eli Garshnick def. Dan Root by submission, second round, 0:31.
Justin Finnegan def. Jeff Pender by referee stoppage, first round, 2:51.
Robert Conner def. Jesse Garshnick by submission, second round, 2:51.
Bruce Monroe split decision over Blaine Balicki, 29-28, 28-29, 29-28.
Charlie Brenneman unanimous decision over Mitch Whitesel, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27.