"Two JMU students emerge ‘Ultimate’ in VFL.
Four Dukes duked it out through blood and pain"
By Ron Counts, contributing writer
Posted on February 11, 2008
Why would perfectly sane, healthy people allow themselves to be locked in a cage with someone whose only intent is to inflict as much harm on them as possible?
Some simply covet the competition that mixed martial arts has to offer.
JMU senior marketing major Tyler Moyer climbed into the Octagon during Saturday’s Valley Fight League event at the Rockingham Fairgrounds for another reason: He had something to prove.
“I’m proud of myself for fighting again,” he said. “In this sport you’re a winner whether you win or lose because you had the guts to get back in the cage.”
After claiming a victory in his first fight as an amateur, Moyer re-entered the cage against a 155-pounder named Daniel Ready, and he did not disappoint.
Almost as soon as the opening bell sounded, Moyer locked Ready in a tight guillotine choke after he shot in to try and take him down. Ready tried to pull away, but Moyer wrapped both legs around his waist and leaned back so he was actually hanging off of Ready, who was still on his feet at that point.
“I didn’t think it would end like that,” said Moyer, who hails from Washington state. “I was expecting a long, drawn-out battle.”
At the 33-second mark of the first round, Ready fell to the mat, still in the clutches of Moyer’s guillotine, and tapped out, or so it seemed.
“He actually passed out, not tapped out,” Moyer said. “He told me afterward that he was out before he hit the mat and that his hand was involuntarily shaking.”
The event, which was the seventh put on by the VFL, featured 18 fights: 13 amateur bouts and five professional.
The most devastating knockout of the night came at the hands of JMU junior Sean Hart, who made his amateur debut at 170 pounds.
At the opening bell, Hart’s opponent, Brent Weston, came out throwing bombs, a couple of which connected. Hart grabbed the back of Weston’s head with both hands and tried to slow the onslaught of rights and lefts that were flying at his head.
Weston took Hart down and tried to rain down blows from top position, but Hart grabbed one of his arms and secured an armbar — a move where a fighter’s arm is hyper-extended to the point of almost breaking. In response, Weston hoisted Hart into the air and slammed him to the mat. Hart wouldn’t give up though, he kept the armbar applied for the rest of the round. Somehow Weston survived.
“I heard his arm pop twice,” said Hart, who’s majoring in history. “I’m surprised it didn’t break.”
At the beginning of the second round, Hart ate a strong left hand but kept pressing forward. He forced Weston against the fence and delivered a vicious knee that landed right on the chin, sending him crumpling to the mat only eight seconds into the round.
“He tried to clinch,” Hart said. “I hit a knee on his chin and I felt him go limp.”
Weston laid on the mat for several minutes as the ringside doctors attended to him. Eventually they got him to his feet and out of the Octagon.
“That was amazing,” said junior SMAD major Luke Mitchell, who was in attendance. “This sport is so dynamic that you never really know what’s going to happen.”
Junior marketing major Darius Houshiarnejad made his amateur debut in the 170-pound weight class as well. Unfortunately it didn’t turn out as well for him.
In the first round, Houshiarnejad’s opponent, David Davis, rocked him with a left hand, followed by a solid right hook and another strait left. Houshiarnejad was able to compose himself and score a takedown, but as soon as the two fighters hit the mat Davis sunk in a guillotine choke that forced the referee to step in and stop the fight with 2:55 left in the round.
“Nothing can prepare you to step into the cage,” Houshiarnejad said. “You prepare so much in training, but when you’re up there all that goes out the window.”
The fight card also included professional fighters Kyle and Beau Baker, who run the Valley Chute Boxe gym here in Harrisonburg.
After Kyle’s fight, ringside officials had to spend about 10 minutes mopping the blood off the mat. Both Kyle and his opponent Chris Thomas locked up in a clinch that allowed both men to throw brutal uppercuts and elbows. Kyle got the better of the exchange though, leaving Thomas bloodied and unable to continue after the first round.
After improving his pro record to 3-2, Kyle celebrated by scaling the fence in one leap and balancing on top of it while playing to the crowd.
“It’s huge for us to be in our hometown,” Kyle Baker said. “We have a lot of dedicated guys, and we’ve got a lot of community support.”
Kyle’s brother, Beau, improved his pro record to 4-0 with a hard-fought victory over Paul Mann. Beau was in trouble early. He got slammed and almost mounted in the first round. He fought out of it and was able to score a takedown with a textbook Judo throw.
In the second round, Beau scored a takedown with another Judo throw, and this time he was able to secure a full mount and rain blows down onto Mann until the referee stepped in and stopped the fight at the 2:51 mark.
Fighters wear bruises and scars like badges of honor. JMU’s “ultimate fighters” are no different.
“My head is a little sore,” said Hart while showing off his freshly earned black eye after his fight. “But I’m ready to get back to training.”