by Brandon Corley (Photo courtesy of ATT)
Spirit MC 11: Invasion Sunday April 22nd at Jangchung Gymnasium, Seoul, South Korea.
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA – Spirit MC is a Seoul-based promotion that has Pride-style rules, although the matches are all 3 rounds for 5 minutes each. This is where American Top Team’s Denis Kang racked up a lot of wins in Spirit MC before he went on to show the world he meant business. Since the promotion has Kang as heavyweight champion and has sent two veteran fighters to train in Florida, it makes sense that the Americans would come to Seoul and give us some good fights.
The theme was “Invasion” and the card was Korean vs. non-Korean all the way through. American Top Team (ATT) brought three fighters to the show and there was also a fighter each from Purebred Omiya and Spike 22. The fights were all exciting and showcased the emerging Korean talent versus some well-trained fighters.
The first ATT fighter on the card was Mike Bruno at 70kg (154lbs). He took on Kim Chang-hyeon, who came out to photos of himself with the words “I’m lazy but I’m very tough” written across them. Kim is well versed in Judo and Jiu-jitsu, and has been fighting as an amateur and a pro for several years.
Bruno took Kim down repeatedly for two rounds, but did little damage from guard. He did score an unintentional header, splitting Kim’s eye and pausing the action. Bruno was given a yellow card later for raking the cut with his gloves. Eventually, Bruno tired. The two were stood up and Kim executed a Judo trip for his first takedown. Kim caught Bruno’s back near the ropes and slapped on a rear naked choke. Kim did not release the choke for several seconds after the referee attempted to pull him off.
Kim Jae-young is the Korean version of Ikuhisa Minowa. Kim will fight anyone and usually gives up size to opponents like Denis Kang. He uses a surprisingly powerful kick to set up his offense. He defeated the Spike 22 heavyweight, Kelvin Pitial, by doing what he does best. He used repeated kicks to Pitial’s mid-section to set up a takedown where he easily finished the larger Pitial with a high key-lock.
Choi Jeong-kyu, the iron-headed monster, defeated Lew Foley from ATT via TKO. Foley took Choi down repeatedly and punched him in his granite noggin. Maybe nobody told the larger, more athletic Foley that this is how Choi wins fights, including an epic battle in which…wait for it…Herb Dean fell victim to an Americana after he punched himself out. Choi took abuse for two rounds and when Foley gassed, Choi scored a KO with the always-lovely soccer kick followed by a head stomp.
Last up was Spirit MC middleweight Lim Jae-seok fighting Mike’s brother, Steve Bruno. From the beginning, it was obvious that the Korean wanted to stand and the ATT fighter wanted to put it on the canvas. Lim stuffed several shots throughout the first two rounds. He was taken down and took damage in the third. Lim couldn’t defend the takedown any longer. Denis Kang could be heard in Bruno’s corner saying that Lim was tired. Unfortunately for the champion, Kang was right. Bruno caught Lim on the chin and got the TKO. Bruno is the first non-Korean champion for the organization.
This was a pretty good show for the Korean promotion. Just enough stomps and soccer kicks over the length of the whole card to make me happy. MMA is flourishing on the peninsula and more foreign fighters are sure to come and scrap with the growing pool of skilled fighters in Korea.
Middleweight Championship Match
Steve Bruno (ATT) def. Lim Jae-seok (Jeong Shim Kwan)
2:52 Rd. 3 KO – Pounding
Heavyweight Challenge Match
Choi Jeong-gyu def. Lew Foley (ATT)
2:15 Rd. 3 KO – Soccer kick and stomping
Heavyweight Challenge Match
Kim Jae-young def. Kelvin Pitial (Spike 22)
4:59 Rd. 1 Submission – High key-lock
Welterweight Challenge Match
Kim Chang-hyeon (Jeong Shim Kwan) def. Mike Bruno (ATT)
0:59 Rd. 3 Submission – Rear-naked choke
Middleweight Challenge Match
George Sotiropalos (Purebred Omiya) def. Cha Jeong-hwan
3:27 Rd. 2 Submission – Armbar
*Kwan Ah-seul won a decision by forfeit.
His opponent did not make it to the ring for unspecified reasons.