Gut Check Championship Series Crowns a New Champ!

Kelly calculates his next strike to claim his newest strap!

Kelly calculates his next strike to claim his newest strap!

 I.B.F Promotions: Gut Check Championship Series returned to the Delaware Sports Plex for yet again, another night of competitive pugilism.  As well as one of the most impressive and rare knockouts in I.B.F Promotions history.  The fans arrived eager and surely left satisfied with their ticket purchase. Gut Check Championship Series delivered, yet again!

In the main event of the evening, I.B.F veteran Namron Bibbins (Champions Gym) faced Omar Estevez (Sitan NY) in a 153lb. Muay Thai contest.  Both fighters started by trading leg kicks, followed by a brief punch exchange.  The two competitors clinched for a heated exchange of punches followed by knees from rope to rope with Estevez finally scoring by tripping Bibbins to the floor.  Estevez followed by stalking Bibbins and clinching him against the ropes to finish the opening stanza.

The second round began and without hesitation these two fighters came forward striking until they were so close, they were forced to clinch.  Trading knees from the inside until Bibbins separated, Estavez then traded from the outside for a brief moment.  Upon clinching, Bibbins circled on the ropes and used his momentum to throw Estevez to the floor.  The fighters continued to clinch and exchange as the crowed screamed “Omar! Omar! Omar!”  After the referee separated them after briefly stalled, the action resumed.  Bibbins and Estevez traded punch and leg kick combinations with Estevez landing the better of the punches.  However, Bibbins is still game as Estevez threw a leg kick but was countered with a boot to boot sweep from Bibbins putting Estevez on the floor.  With just over 10 seconds left in the round, both fighters finished the round aggressively trading punches with knees, but nothing with significant landing.

The last round began as both fighters came forward trading leg kicks and striking in the clinch.  Both fighters tried for better positioning while trading knees.  Estevez had Bibbins pressed against the ropes, working knees to the body as Bibbins fired back with body punches.  They traded dominant positioning many times before the referee finally broke them.  After getting back to the action, Estevez seemed to turn the volume up to close the final stanza as he picked his punch combinations and followed with his thudding leg kicks.  Bibbins wasn’t shy to return fire as he threw his share of leg kicks, tripping Estevez on a few occasions.  In the end, Estevez closed the round more aggressively and put the stamp on the round winning a unanimous decision.  About his victory, Estevez exclaimed, “I felt like I was in control of the fight.  I gauged the first round, saw where my strength was and stuck with it.  Working on the inside and close range in the clinch.  Not taking anything from Namron, but he didn’t hurt me at all.  For the most part, I saw his shots coming, and was able to react.  He was definitely tougher than I expected him to be!”

The lone title bout of the evening was served early in the evening as Zak Kelly (MVJ) took to the ring facing Malik “Superman” Joe (New World MMA) for the 153 lb.  K1 rules belt.  Both of these fighters showed how badly they wanted that piece of hardware from the opening bell.  Kelly took the methodical approach with picking his punches to feel his foe out.  Joe came blistering forward with punch combinations although nothing landing significantly, Joe pushed Kelly forward to the ropes to throw a flying knee to the mid section while the fighter was pressed against the wall/ropes.  Although, conceptually smart, it only paid off rarely as he threw it often.  These fighters came forward this round until Kelly landed a thudding (right) rear leg round kick to the head wobbling Joe and forcing the referee’s 10 count.  Upon recovering, Joe forced the action on Kelly to regain the points he had lost. Kelly systematically blocked his foes attacks while intelligently countering to keep scoring points while under attack, and to close the round.

The second stanza started with trading leg and body kicks until the two clinched which was intervened by the referee immediately.  Once the action resumed it was obvious that Joe was determined to move forward and press the action, although he hadn’t landed many clean shots in the process.  Kelly was often pressed to the ropes, but stayed very poised; assessing, evading, and countering Joe’s attacks.  The round seemed as if it was a test of will to see who could take more punishment.  Both Kelly and Joe increased their punching volume while staying in the pocket.  One can’t be sure if it was a testament of their desire to immediately stop each other, or if it was to test the others heart and endurance.  Which ever it was, it was a HELL of a way to close the round!

The third bell rang and these two fighters came storming forward with vicious punch combinations from Joe landing but not fazing his foe.  Kelly was controlling the distance with his leg and body kicks, and finalizing with a brutal head kick, which would drop most. Joe ate it like a champion and came right back with a nasty jab-straight right.  The 10 second warning bell sounded, and off they went!  Punches went flying back and forth, both fighters landing some; both with the success of the round in their trying hands.

The last round of this title bout began with a lot of single blows being thrown by both fighters at range.  A little ways in to the round, Kelly comes charging forward with a thudding body kick followed by straight punches to close the distance to clinch in the corner.  The referee breaks them and they exchange straight punches with Kelly closing the distance again for the clinch.  The referee breaks them again and Joe throws a hard looping overhand right blocked by Kelly.  The round closes with Kelly throwing a leg kick caught by Joe.  As Joe is holding Kelly’s leg and backing up, Kelly regains footing and throws a last second controversial knee.  Joe was claiming it was a low blow, but the referee ruled it as a knockdown.  All three judges scored this bout as a unanimous decision for Gut Check Championship Series’ champion: Zak Kelly.  About his contest, Kelly said, “I told Jake (Kelly whom fought prior to Zak’s fight) going in we were making history that night.  Jake won his debut & I won my third K1 title so it felt great.”

Performance of the night honors went out to Zaks little brother; Jake Kelly (MVJ) who won his debut in K1 kickboxing at 153 pounds.  His opponent of the evening was Greyson Riley (Revolution Academy) and in typical “Kelly Brothers” fashion, was more technical, and mentally focused than most who stand before there them.  Kelly showed no signs of hesitation as he came forward from bell to bell.  From the start Kelly utilized his natural skills of being the taller fighter with a lot more reach and agility.  Kelly intelligently stayed on the outside as his opponent made every attempt to rush in.  Kelly timed his opponents’ attempted strikes.  Even when Riley managed to get inside, Kelly was more dominant in controlling the clinch to land his knees and deadly left hooks to Riley’s body.  As the bout progressed, it seemed as if Kelly was gaining more energy opposed to spending it, as his punches and kicks being output were increasing.  His strikes were landing more clean as the bout went on as he was clearly hurting Riley in the 3rd round via leg kicks.  In the end, the Kelly family rose to the occasion together, as Jake Kelly won his debut K1 fight by unanimous decision.  Reflecting on the historic night (Jake) Kelly said: “I felt awesome about the win in my debut fight.  I was nervous when I got to the event because it finally hit me that I was going to fight someone.  But after talking to Zak and Sifu and while warming up all the nerves went away because I realized who I trained with and how well that prepared me for my fight.”

Knockout of the night honors and most likely of the year honors went to Dan Champa (Rami Elite) who fought Dan Clemons (Racine MMA) in a 165 pound Muay Thai bout.  Champa taking his first fight after a 6 year layoff was no stranger to how it felt when the bell sounded, and it was time for war.  From opening bell to close, Champa dictated the pace with his thunderous leg kicks which wobbled his foe, only to be followed by a barrage of punches.  It was clear from the start of this contest that an MMA fighter was in the ring with a more experienced Muay Thai fighter, under Muay Thai rules.  As the bout progressed, it got uglier for Clemons.  As a matter of fact, it was a systematic destruction.  Champa entered the third round clinching Clemons and kneeing him so hard and often, the referee stepped in for an 8 count.  As the fighters resumed, Champa threw multiple leg kicks to soften his foe and force his mind on the leg.  Once Champa saw his opening with 10 seconds left, he landed a BEAUTIFUL cartwheel kick (better known as the Saenchai kick) to the head which rendered Clemons unconscious.  The humble fighter only threw the kick to “look good in the last 10 seconds to the judges.”  Champa went on to say about his victory, “I felt bad because I know that getting knocked can make or break you as a fighter.  My goal as a fighter is not to hurt my opponents or end their careers, but to perform to the best of my ability while glorifying my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.   At that point of the fight, I knew I had accomplished my goal and felt that the knock out was more supplementary than necessary.”

Gut Check Championship Series returns to the Boys and Girls club of Newark, DE. Saturday July 19th for yet another night of action packed competition!  For information or to compete on this card, contact Greg Pritchett at  See you all in July!




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