Gut Check Championship Series Returns with Gut Shots

Champions crowned, and a number one contender ready for his time!

Champions crowned, and a number one contender ready for his time!

I.B.F Promotions had a blast from the past homecoming at The Boys & Girls Club of Newark, DE. For Gut Check Championship Series. Some speculated this might have been the best card the promotion has ever held due to the back and forth scraps and the plentiful stoppages. The crowd was loud, on their feet and explosive for their people in the ring, which led to another successful night for I.B.F. Promotions.

Two titles were on the line with Malik “Superman” Joe taking on undefeated Kevin Koljack for the 165lb. Thai title. As well as Ben Anton throwing down with Jahlahni Battle-Williams for the 143lb. Thai title. The card in its entirety lived up to its promotions title, “Gut Check” with multiple fights being stopped due to strikes to the body. Fans, staff, coaches, and fighters alike were buzzing about the action that ensued on July 19th.

Team MVJ representative Jason Stephens made his second appearance on a Gut Check card and showed up as a different fighter than his first appearance. Stephens took on Avery McKnight (High Voltage Gym) with a point to prove from start to finish. It seemed robotic how well Stephens listened to his corner during the 3 round endeavor. Master Greg Pritchett or Zak Kelly would shout instructions, and within a fraction of a second, Stephens executed flawlessly. All three rounds were scored for Stephens as he used his height and reach to keep his foe at bay, and his range to dictate the fights pace in his favor. With His straight punching, along with his long leg cracking like whips against McKnight, it seemed Stephens was getting more and more comfortable in the ring, as well as utilizing his natural tools.

Touching on his performance, Stephens says, “It felt really good to win in the dominant fashion that I did, and being the representative of MVJ that night. I wanted to display the hard work that we as a team put in the gym, so I was really glad it turned out the way it did.” Given Stephens is in the early stages of his fight career, he continued with, “It felt really good to win in the dominant fashion that I did, and being the representative of MVJ that night, I wanted to display the hard work that we as a team put in the gym. I was really glad it turned out the way it did.”

Gut Check highlight reel fighter Daniel Champa (Rami Elite) continues his string of impressive knockouts with an early first round stoppage. From Saenchai kicks to aerial tactics to being a master technician, this kid brings it all! Champa walked to the ring proudly sporting an American Flag wrapped around him. When asked the reasoning behind his pre-fight garbs, Champa said, “My grandfather passed away two weeks ago (from the date) and I dedicated the fight to him.” Champa continued with, “He served in the Navy in WWII. I wanted to win him a medal to honor him. I folded it up and put it in a flag case with the medal for my grandmother.”

Champa’s opposition of the night, Ray Rozay was aggressive from the opening bell as Champa systematically put his game plan together to adjust the fight to his liking. Although Rozay was the taller fighter with more reach, Champa was easily able to stay at the end of Rozay’s attacks or work inside, as he saw fit. The stars aligned yet again for Champa as he found his opening at the 56 second mark of the opening round by landing a flying knee to the mid section of Rozay, crumbling him for the 10 count, which Rozay couldn’t answer declaring Champa the winner by TKO. Although it was an earlier stoppage than his previous bout under the I.B.F banner, Daniel Champa scores his second consecutive “Knockout of the Night” honor.

If Champa keeps this string of impressive victories rolling, it will be hard to deny the man a title shot. With the way Champa has performed as of late, he is definitely a force to be reckoned with. Reflecting on his performance, Champa said “I was really happy God gave me the opportunity to honor him (Grandfather). Continuing on future plans, Champa says, “I can safely say that the only thing I am out to prove is that win, lose, or draw, I want to perform to the best of my ability while glorifying my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! As well as to accomplish as much as I can in the art I am so passionate about for as long as physically and mentally can!”

Kevin Koljack (Beta Academy) has been unstoppable since his start and earned “Performance of the Night” honors, as well as improving his unblemished record to 7-0. While sporting an undefeated record, Koljack has won most of his fights in decisive fashion. This fight proved to be no different as Koljack faced Malik “Superman” Joe (New World MMA) in a 4 round bout for the 165 lb. Thai title. Joe respectfully stepped up a weight class for the title opportunity and was very game for the first few rounds until Koljack adjusted, and got his timing in order.

Joe came out aggressively in the first round dictating the pace early with his punch combinations. Koljack weathered the early storm to take advantage from that round forward. Being the bigger fighter, Koljack settled, and adjusted to ultimately land heavier strikes, and even had Joe hurt and on wobbly legs a few times throughout the later rounds of the contest. To Joe’s credit, he’s always the game athlete ready for battle, especially stepping out of his weight class to take this title opportunity. In the end, Koljack outscored, and outclassed Joe to take home the I.B.F 165lb Thai Title.

Koljack recollected his 7th straight victory in its entirety saying, “Superman came out guns blazing in the first round (I had a feeling he would). He landed a few hard punches, but for the most part my defense was solid and I got into the rhythm of the fight. He definitely won that round (1st), but I knew I had three more to do my thing. The second round was all about dominating him inside. I backed him up a lot and used the clinch to land lots of knees. I could tell by the second (round) that he was exhausted. In the third round I felt pretty comfortable so I started to open up with my kicks and cut him down to the ground a few times. My favorite dump of the fight came in the third. He had been raising his knee in the clinch to defend so, on the advice of my corner man Brian, I cut his base leg out and he went straight to the mat. He even said that it was a great dump right after it happened during the round. By the fourth I knew he did not have much energy left. I threw some power kicks and punches as he retreated, and when he got into the corner I landed more hard knees to the body”. Closing the books on this contest as Koljack maintains his unblemished record of 7-0, and crowned the new champ!

The fastest stoppage of the evening goes to Ivan Encarnacion (Brawlhouse/Maximum Athlete) who took on James McCaffery (Cowboy International). McCaffery jumped up in weight from 179lbs to 186lbs to face Encarnacion. However, it was a one sided thrashing as it only took Encarnacion 28 seconds into the bout to put a stop to the contest declaring him the winner via TKO.

In the opening stanza Encarnacion attacked quickly and efficiently with a rear leg kick to the mid-section, followed by a knee in the clinch to crumble McCaffery. Discussing his first fight with such an abrupt stoppage Encarnacion says, “I was blessed to go in and get out fast. It was my first fight, I had tons of mixed emotions! Excited, yet nervous. Touching on seeing his opponent drop, Encarnacion recollects, “After I saw him go down, I knew he wasn’t going to get back up. I just wanted to get my hand raised, hug my coach, and find my wife and our friends in the stands!” After a hard camp, not much effort went into that fight, as Encarnacion scored one of the fastest KO’s in I.B.F history at 28 seconds into the opening stanza.

Cesar Ramirez (Rami Elite) took on Eddie Doud (Top Flight) to decide who was the number 1 contender for the 132lb. title. There was a brief feeling out process before both fighters got to work going after their shot at the belt. In the opening round both fighters pawed their feints to start. Further in the round, both fighters began to engage with Doud looking to land shots from the outside and Ramirez from the clinch. Ramirez scored a standing 8 count on Doud in the first to hopefully secure the round. However, during the opening round Doud took Ramirez to the floor. Doud, also being an MMA fighter threw an instinctual but accidental strike to a downed Ramirez. Ramirez recovered well, however quite angry as he stood and looked seemingly disrespected. Ramirez, being the younger of the two went into attack mode displaying a full Thai arsenal in his assault to systematically beat his foe to the strike, and defeat Eddie Doud with pure technique to earn Ramirez the next title shot for the 132lb. Thai title.

Ramirez reflected on his victory and number 1 contention stating, “I’ll go for a title fight whenever my instructor tells me to. That belt belongs to me because I am dedicated and focused to what I love and I love this sport! It’s my life.”

Fight of the Night” honors go to the newly crowned 143lb Thai title winner, Ben Anton (Rami Elite) took on Jhalahni Battle-Williams (Amerikick). Anton put on a technical Thai display utilizing his punches, leading into his knees and kicks. Anton used his technical prowess to wage in war from start to finish against Williams’ non-stop, come forward tenacity. The opening two rounds were back and forth battles between the two with their punch and kick combinations. Williams consistently came forward, and Anton used his angles to set up counter strikes. It was Anton’s all around technique to establish, and set the pace of the bout in his favor. Anton felt he hurt Williams and was able to set the pace early, and finish with comfort. Anton finished the bout via Unanimous Decision after 4 hard fought rounds for the title.

Discussing his win, Anton says, “The first two rounds of the fight were mostly back and forth until the end of the 2nd where I think I hurt him with knees in the clinch. After that the last two rounds, he was more on the defensive and avoiding the clinch. Throughout the whole fight, I was mixing it up between hands, knees, and lows kicks while pushing the pace and always coming forward. It was definitely a fun fight!” Happy with his performance, Anton was asked what he had to say about upcoming prospects challenging for his title. Anton simply replied, “Good luck!” Many fighters might take that as a sign of arrogance, but one thing is sure, that Anton is settled with his belt and has no plans to relinquish it any time soon.

Check Championship Series will return with a date to be announced sooner than later. Stay tuned for any and all updates at or look us up on Facebook at I.B.F. Promotions. We appreciate the support, and look forward to providing the fans with the best possible fights on our next card and those in the future! Until next time!



About Adam Crist