Six professional bouts of intense local interest made up the undercard for the inaugural Driven MMA event at the Canton Memorial Civic Center Saturday night. Local favorites Isaiah Chapman, Kyle Rosewski, Reggie Parks, George Comer and Curt Lemmon earned victories, while local favorite Dustin Kempf gave fans reason for encouragement even in a loss, in returning to the cage for the first time after yet another injury sidelined him many months ago. West Virginia’s “Wild Wild” Wes Hanson added some flash with a slick submission win over Ohioan Louis Johnson in a night that delivered something for everyone of the Ohio MMA faithful.
Driven MMA Preliminary Card:
Bout 1: 265 lbs – Curt Lemmon 1-0 (Dungeon MMA) vs Ryan “The Rhino” Walls 2-0 (Peak Submission)
Heavyweights, Kurt Lemmon and Ryan Walls kicked off the undercard with a hard-fought battle of attrition that was contested mostly in the clinch and on the ground. Lemmon was a relentless, systematic grappler with a brutalizing clinch game while Walls was the more explosive striker in the early going. Round one was essentially a toss up. Referee Mark Matheny’s instincts were perfect in breaking up the cage hugging and while it looked as if Walls might rally a comeback, the crafty Lemmon had pulled the more explosive fighter into deep water where he would eventually drown him by TKO due to strikes in the last seconds of Round 2.
Bout 2: 170 lbs – Reggie “The Contract Killer” Parks 2-1 (Ronin Fight Team) vs Kenny “The Gorilla” Booker 2-1 (Midwest Training Center)
Thirty-nine year old Reggie Parks returned to the cage to face Bellator veteran Kenny Booker in what was perhaps the most closely matched, as well as controversial bout of the evening. Three rounds of back and forth striking, takedowns for both fighters and fairly well-matched grappling exchanges made for a fight without much advantage on either side. Parks was the aggressor in most exchanges and significantly outworked Booker most of the fight, but was also the culprit in a rather egregious illegal knee to the head which seemed to take some of the starch out of his opponent for the balance of the contest. Only in the final seconds of the 3rd round when Booker appeared to stagger Parks was either fighter significantly in trouble. In spite of giving up a point in the 2nd round, Parks prevailed on the judge’s scorecards winning a razor tight split decision 29-26, 28-27 and 29-28.
Bout 3: 145 lbs – Louis “Light Speed” Johnson 2-0 (Team Carlson Gracie) vs “Wild Wild” Wes Hanson 1-0 (Leon Ramsey’s Dawghouse Gym)
The always sensational Wes Hanson and Louis “Lightspeed” Johnson set a break-neck pace in a lively display of free-style wrestling punctuated with wild scrambles, slick reversals and aggressive “go for broke” submission attempts. Hansonexpertly wrapped up a guillotine with all the style and technique of his Team Alpha Male training partner Uriah Faber, ending the fight as quickly and decisively as a flash knockout.
Bout 4: 145 lbs – Kyle “Kyote” Rozewski 3-3 (Evolve MMA) vs Dustin “The Reaper” Kempf 6-6 (Instigator Fight Team)
Local favorite Dustin Kemph from Carrollton, Ohio drew perhaps the loudest applause of the evening but ended up on the wrong end of a very slick and artfully executed triangle choke at the hands of Evolve MMA’s Kyle Rosewski. Ring rust may have been a factor in the much-anticipated return to the cage for Kemph who appeared shocked when he woke up to the face ofreferee Jerry Krzys instead of his already celebrating opponent. Polite in victory but confident enough to put the division on warning, “you go to sleep on me, and I’ll put you to sleep,” was Rosewski, whose ground game appears to be technically stellar.
Bout 5: 155 lbs– Anthony Morgan 3-0 (Dayton MMA) vs George “Bonesaw” Comer 3-1 (GriffonRawl)
Anthony Morgan simply had no answer for the takedowns and top game of Mount Union wrestling standout, George Comer. To his credit, Comer was not content to grind out a decision victory, but worked hard for the finish after dominating the first two rounds, eventually softening up his opponent with elbows and submitting him with a nasty arm triangle.
Bout 6: 135 lbs – Charles “Trinity” Stanford 4-1 (G-Force MMA) vs Isaiah “The Beast” Chapman 4-1 (Rock Hard MMA)
Charles “Trinity” Stanford did well to survive the initial storm early in Round 1, one of the many challenges any opponent of the physically gifted and well-rounded Isaiah Chapman must face. But unlike other heavily-muscled fighters, Chapman did not fade in spite of having to contend with a significant reach advantage enjoyed by Stanford who fought long and used his length to his advantage. Stanford fought a crafty, smart fight and seemed to stick to his game plan admirably. Chapman, however, was simply the stronger, more gifted athlete, and eventually gained a preponderance of advantage from which Stanford was unable to recover, in spite of several brief surges in which he threatened to turn the momentum in his direction. Both fighters turned it on at the end, but Chapman won a unanimous decision. Isaiah was back after a serious shoulder injury and the local crowd was thrilled to see him looking fit and in top form. It was almost a year since he last fought, suffering a dislocated shoulder in the early part of his first and only professional loss.
Six more professional bouts made up a star-studded main card including both local and national talent. For a recap of the main card, see: www.profightingfans.com
By Joe Millin
Staff Writer, ProFightingFans.com