by Corey Snow for MMAWeekly.com
There’s something to be said for regional MMA shows that present their product in a clean, consistent manner that pleases the fans every time, and the Gladiator Challenge franchise does just that. The most recent installment of the Gladiator Challenge series, “Summer Showdown,” again took advantage of the unique energy the nearly century-old Kezar Pavilion provides when 2,500 fans pack into the antiquated municipal building, located in the southeast-most corner of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

Every roar reverberated in the auditorium, and one could almost feel the earth shaking a bit as the fans cheered and stomped for their favorite local fighters. In attendance were many of nationally-famous and locally-based fighters and trainers: Jake Shields, Ralph Gracie, Jon Fitch, Luke Stewart, Jeremiah Metcalfe, Alexander Crispim, Eric Lawson, Pat Minihan, Gil Castillo, Bob Cook and others.

MMA Weekly caught up with Strikeforce fighter and welter-weight contender, Luke Stewart who had this to say about local shows like the Gladiator Challenge: “Small shows, in a certain sense, are more in-tune with MMA on a human level, unlike the larger shows where there is a greater distance between the fans and the fighters.

“It is great when the audience can latch onto a local fighter, become friends and fan of that person, and watch that fighter as he continues through the early stages of his career. This transfers the energy of the entire sport from the fighter to the fan, and therefore the people watching want to learn more about MMA, train more, gain more experience or even follow the same paths as their local heroes.”

Headlining the main card were fighters from several of the prominent local gyms (Ralph Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, American Kickboxing Academy, Team Shamrock), and the main fight pitted Ralph Gracie Jiu-Jitsu San Francisco head-instructor Kurt Osiander against American Kickboxing Academy’s up-and-coming Nate Moore. Summer Showdown’s ten fights were exciting, some were very competitive, and like usual, others ended quickly and decisively.

Will Davis vs. Larry Mays (205 lbs.)

Larry Mays took it to Will Davis at the beginning of Round 1, and he didn’t seem to let up for most of the first two rounds. Davis did his best to bang with Mays, but Mays appeared to be the stronger fighter, taking him down and completing some effective ground and pound. At one point, Mays had Davis’ head in a full mount across the neck with head against the cage, and one can only assume that is where he took the largest amount of damage to his face. With both eyes swollen, Will Davis verbally submits in between rounds due to not being able to see combined with exhaustion. Davis fails to answer the bell.

-Larry Mays wins by verbal submission (Fighter couldn’t answer the bell) at the end of the 2nd round.

Mike Fazzino vs. Bryan Lujan (195 lbs.)

At a catch weight of 195 pounds, local favorite and San Francisco police officer Brian Lujan (JJ’s, Pacifica) succumbed to the superior grappler in Mike Fazzino in the first round. Although Lujan came out throwing that hard over-hand right, it never quite landed where he wanted it to, and during one of the scrambles, he ended up being mounted by Fazzino. Fazzino then rained down several unanswered elbows and punches from the mount, and the fight was stopped at 2:18 of the first round.

-Mike Fazzino wins by TKO at 2:18 of the 1st round.

Matt Greene vs. Jaime Rodriguez (170 lbs.)

Walnut Creek’s Matt Greene and Jaime Rodriguez brought their best game tonight, with Greene getting the best of the exchanges on the ground, and Rodriguez doing his best to hold on without taking damage. Greene dominated the ground game, staying on top and attempting solid ground strikes, while ground slamming him a few times, and staying in control in guard. In the second round, Green easily takes Rodriguez down, and then proceeds to push him into the cage and land fists to the face. After taking his back, attempting a few submissions, he maintained dominant wrestling control to end Round 2. In the 3rd round, it was more of the same, and Greene takes Rodriguez down at will, earns half-guard, and then pounds him out with hammer-fists to get the TKO win at 2:19 of the 3rd round. Greene’s performance was solid.

-Matt Greene wins by TKO at 2:19 of the 3rd round.

Adam Albright vs. Zak Bucia (170 lbs.)

San Mateo’s FSA Fight Team’s Adam Albright and Gladiator Challenge veteran Zak Bucia executed an exciting back-and-forth fight that ended in controversy. Both fighters looked great, in-shape, and ready to fight, and both fought with their hearts shown. Overall, Albright appeared to have the upper-hand in the clinch, and in the wrestling department, displaying his athleticism throughout the fight. Bucia seemed to be in a disadvantaged position most of the first round, but he ended the round strong, on top, and landing some decent ground and pound. (MMA Weekly scores it 10-9 Albright)

In the second round, Bucia continued to lose the clinch war, eventually getting taken down. Bucia’s jiu-jitsu game was decent, but lacking in real submission attempts. Eventually Albright passed guard, and got side mount, and then the brutal crucifix position, where Albright remained in control for more than a minute, dropping uncommitted punches to Bucia’s head. In a final scramble, Albright secured a triangle that he ended the round out with, unable to finish Bucia. (MMA Weekly scores it 10-9 Albright)

In the 3rd round, Bucia regained his composure, and attempted to keep the fight standing for most of the round, but it may have been too little, too late. After some clinch work and some tentative ground work, Bucia squeaks out control and earns the round. (MMA Weekly scores it 10-9 Bucia;
MMA Weekly scores the fight 29-28 for Albright.)

In the only controversial decision of the night, Zak Bucia is declared the winner by Split Decision. The crowd vocally expressed their displeasure at the decision, not so much at Bucia himself, but at the CSAC’s very off-the-wall scores.

-Zak Bucia wins via Split Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28).

John Devine vs. Richard Blake (HW)

Local favorite John Devine wasted no time in using his size to his advantage, essentially grabbing and slamming Blake to the ground, and into side-mount. After a minute of pounding, Devine takes the mount, and later secures an arm-bar, but Blake successfully defended himself through the end of the 1st round. In the 2nd round, it was more of the same, and John eventually got on top, and again, using his size to his advantage, pounded Blake until the referee stopped in to stop the fight.

-John Devine wins via TKO (referee stoppage) at 1:41 of the 2nd round.

Joey Armstrong vs. Wayne Phillips (170 lbs.)

Wayne Phillips of American Kickboxing Academy was pitted against Ralph Gracie Jiu-Jitsu fan favorite and tattoo artist Joey Armstrong. The fight started with decent hands from both fighters, but it appeared to be Phillips who was getting the better of the early exchanges, landing a few shots and eventually taking Armstrong down. Phillips seemed to be in control, but wasn’t doing much from inside the guard, nor in the half-guard, but due to his control of Armstrong, he takes the round. (MMA Weekly scores it 10-9 Phillips)

In the second round, Armstrong appeared to turn up the heat, landing some decent punches standing, and controlling the cage. Phillips, a big 170 pound fighter, tried to keep the fight on the ground, but Armstrong, a jiu-jitsu fighter, decided he wanted to throw leather. Toward the end of the round, Phillips appeared the less fresh of the two fighters, and Armstrong finishes strong. (MMA Weekly scores it 10-9 Armstrong)

Armstrong was going strong in the 3rd round, landing the better of the exchanges, and turning on a little speed that seemed to overwhelm the tired Phillips. In one exchange, Armstrong wobbled Phillips but was not able to finish him. The over-hand right found its home with help with the left leg kick, and Armstrong just kept coming forward throughout the round, keeping it standing as best he could. This was possibly fight of the night. (MMA Weekly scores it 10-9 Armstrong)

-Joey Armstrong wins via Unanimous Decision.

Ryan Bastianelli vs. Gigo Jara (155 lbs.)

Ryan “Relentless” Bastianelli took a page from Sherk’s playbook when he quickly took down Roseville’s Gigo Jara, and pushed Jara into the cage corner, working the elbows and staying in top control. Bastianelli even gets the mount at one point, but Jara scrambles and secures a takedown of his own to end round 1. Round 2 is more of the same, with Bastianelli bringing it to Jara on the ground. Jara secured an ankle lock at one point, but it was still too little for him to win the round. In Round 3, Bastianelli attempted several takedowns, and although Jara’s defense was solid, and he even slipped in a few proper strikes, Bastianelli eventually got control to take round 3. (MMA Weekly scores it 30-27, Bastianelli)

-Ryan Bastianelli wins by Unanimous Decision (30-27).

Justin Hoglund vs. Gabriel Solorio (145 lbs.)

Turlock’s Gabriel Solario and Ralph Gracie fighter Justin Hoglund had a lively fight that ended with a disappointing cut early-ending. Hoglund remained in control through dominant clinch work during the first round, but Solorio held his unto, even opening up a cut above Hoglund’s eye with 15 minutes left in the round. Round 2 looked pretty much like the first, except that Hoglund almost secured an arm-in guillotine that seemed pretty tight to secure the round. After taking the first two rounds, Hoglund seemed a bit gassed, and Solorio was able to land some effective strikes that opened up Hoglund’s cut above the eye, causing him to bleed badly. After about a minute into the 3rd round, the doctor stopped the fight to check the cut, and the proceeded to call the fight off due to the nature of the cut. This is a shame because it appeared that Hoglund was on his way to win a unanimous decision.

-Gabriel Solorio wins by TKO (cut, doctor stoppage) at 1:30 of the 3rd round.

Josh Neal vs. Raul Castillo (185 lbs.)

The very tough Raul Castillo (JJ’s Martial Arts, Pacifica) immediately shot in for a double-leg on Josh Neal, and worked it until he got the takedown. Although Neal attempted to reverse Castillo’s momentum at one point, Castillo proved to be too strong for the fighter. Castillo secured the mount, and pounded Neal out for the win at just under 2 minutes. Castillo wins another fight by TKO.

-Raul Castillo wins by TKO at 2:12 of the first round.

Kurt Osiander vs. Nate Moore (185 lbs.)

Ralph Gracie Jiu-Jitsu San Francisco lead instructor Kurt Osiander and American Kickboxing Academy’s up-and-comer Nate Moore faced off in the main event of the night. Although many of the San Francisco fans wanted hometown favorite Osiander to win, they certainly didn’t get to see that, nor did they even really get to see a fight. AKA’s Nate Moore came out blasting with a hook that caught Osiander on the chin, sending him crashing to the mat. Moore pounced and landed a few more shots before the ref stepped in at 6 seconds into the first round. This was undoubtedly an impressive victory over a BJJ black belt for Nate Moore. Find out when Nate

-Nate Moore wins by KO at :06 seconds of the 1st round.