Gut Check Championship Series: Champions Rise

Gut Check Championship Series BeltGut Check Championship Series returned with the biggest bang for the fans buck to date! A sold out venue flooded the Boys and Girls Club of Bear, DE on February 20th, 2016 with a night of battles that won’t soon be forgotten. From back and forth wars, to clean knockouts, as well as brutal TKO’s, Gut Check Championship Series, their staff and fighters brought a 5 star event back to the First State and crowned some new champions in the process.

The main event, although it didn’t last long, had the entire venue on their feet as Neil “The Palestinian Knight” Mustafa (Rami Elite) took on Jhalani Battle-Williams (NWMMA) for Williams’ Gut Check 143lb Glory Rules title. A curveball was thrown to the masses as Mustafa being Gut Checks 132lb Glory Rules champion stepped up two weight classes to take on the tough champion in Williams. The bout started with Williams storming Mustafa with a barrage of blows and looking to establish dominance early. Mustafa met him head to head in heated exchanges while the fans erupted with such early and vicious action. However, it wasn’t long before the two fighters clinched, were seperated by the referee, following Mustafa landing a rear leg headkick that landed so cleanly that it sounded like an explosion throughout the building and thus, put Williams down for the count.

Williams beat the 10 count, however, the tides had turned and Mustafa smelled blood. Mustafa wasted no time pouncing on a still dazed Williams with a barrage of cleanly landed punches to the face, putting Williams down for the second time in roughly 30 seconds into the contest. The referee having seen enough, waving the contest to a halt. Impressively, Mustafa already had a piece of Gut Check Hardware, now is a champion in different weight divisions. Looks like the target is on “The Palestinian Knights” back for all challengers within those classes.

Mustafa discussed the contest stating: “I feel really good, however, I can’t celebrate forever. It’s definitely something spectacular (two belts in two weight classes) and I’m really excited about but I don’t want to let it get to me and fill my head up. I wasn’t flustered at all. Although ideally I’d like someone to stand in front of me and let me hit them, it’s not realistic. But I like when someone tries to unload on me because it’s the style of fighting that I like and the fans like and it also allows me to read any openings. From the get-go I knew he was coming in and I threw my right middle and I noticed his face was wide open and he had no intent to block. So I knew it was only a matter of time before I caught him with something big.”

Discussing his return to the Gut Check Championship Series ring to defend his belts, Mustafa claimed, ” I’d love to be more active on the cards. It’s not far either so I can definitely have a lot of people come support, especially after a big win like this. Everyone’s going to want to hop on the bandwagon (laughing) but that’s ok. I look forward to keeping these 2 belts and defending them against anyone who feels worthy enough!”

Fight of the Night honors, hands down went to Savlat Tursunov (Rami Elite) taking on the gritty Nikko Cunningham (Militia Fight Academy). This was a technical, yet beautiful scrap from the opening bell. Cunningham was clearly a brawler looking to take out Tursunov quickly and abupruptly, however faded during the contest. Tursunov weathered an early storm of punches as Cunningham looked to establish himself. However, Tursunov was able to readjust to everything Cunningham had to offer as they traded their punches, kicks and knees, Tursunov kept gaining momentum as Cunningham’s momentum clearly decreased.

Cunningham came out aggresively, putting Tursunov on his heels to counter strike at first. However, skill, range, awareness, and technical prowess took this contest for Tursunov. After enduring a tough first round with Cunningham coming for Tursunov’s head and backing him up, trying to maintain pressure… Tursunov stayed poised to collect his opponents number (so to speak) and reversed the role. Once Tursunov got in his rhythm, it was his for the taking. Tursunov was taller, more well rounded, and ready for anything that came his way. Cunningham came as the aggressor, but it was Tursunov who was the technical and more precise fighter dictating this contest giving him the close but narrow win via Majority Decision.

Tursunov discussed his bout stating: “I was trying to feel him in the first round. Then, at the end of the first round I saw what I have to do to break his rhythym. It didnt suprise me at all. I was observing what weapons he likes to use and also observing his rhythm. At the end of round one I saw everything. Then I just pushed the pace and pressured him with all my weapons! Hopefully in two months or so I will be fighting again. My future goals are to become world champion and represent Rami Elite to the world!”

Performance of the Night honors went to Fatima Scott (MVJ) who took on Emmy Shea (NWMMA) whom was a late replacement for Scott on 2 days notice for the Gut Check 117lb K1 Rules championship belt. Scott came out striking hard and as beautifully as her nickname depicts, “The Rose”. To Shea’s credit, she stepped in on short notice, and put on an amazing fight, but proved to not be ready for her hungry opponent. Scott picked Shea appart from start to finish as Scott put on a stunning striking clinic on her opponent. Shea, a solid opponent, NEVER backed down from a gamed Scott as Shea pressed forward landing her own from the opening stanza, but could never clearly get Scott’s number. From the opening bell, Scott was seemingly thirsting for blood. She seemingly got just that after the first few exchanges feeling out Shea and getting her timing down to finally pounce. It’s been mentioned before that Scott is very “Tuned In” with her corners instructions and throwing what they say at that designated moment. This bout was no different. Scott, being young in her career is not only promising, but now a champion!

Discussing her first title win, Scott said: “At first it felt like a dream and it feels amazing! I never thought I’d actually have a title belt. No fight is easy! She’s a tough girl! All 4 rounds, she just kept coming. When I spar or fight, I never underestimate my opponent. My main goal was to not gas out and just have fun. Usually when I get in the ring, I am pretty anxious and tend to stress a little. I have to say, this fight just might’ve been the most fun and relaxed fight yet! I’d like to say, I will be back in the ring in April and I’ll be working even harder this time!”

KO of the night was awarded to the ever improving and technical Thai fighter, Jillian Garcia. Garcia (Cool Hearts), whom is no stranger to Gut Check Championship Series landed a beautifully timed head kick on Catherine Marino (Balance Studios) in a heated battle to stop the contest with a clean “walk off” knockout. Garcia is an absolute show stopper and showed nothing short of that on fight night.

The first bell sounded with Garcia utilizing her longer reach and punch combinations, as well as mixing in her teep kicks to the body to keep her opponent at range. Once the two fighters found themselves in the clinch, Garcia immediately fired away with hard knees to the body causing the referee to step in for the standing 8 count. Marino, knowing she was down on points recovered and started to pressure Garcia with shots with minimal effectiveness.

The second round started with both fighters meeting in the center of the ring for some heated exchanges with Marino throwing some heavy hands trying to get back into the contest. Garcia, fired her kicks and ultimately both fighters landed in the clinch where Garcia would, yet again, start with a vicious onslaught of knees to Marino’s mid section. During a brief break the fighters circled and Garcia threw a lead leg head kick that landed flush, putting Marino down on the canvas. The referee wasted no time calling a halt to the contest knowing Marino was out and declaring the winner via KO, Jillian Garcia.

Garcia commented about her fight saying: “It feels amazing! Gut Check is full of such dynamic fighters; it feels great to stand out. (As “KO Of The Night” winner). My opponent was able to land some solid punches, but I wasn’t stunned. I could see that her guard was loosening up as she continued to throw, so I waited for the opportunity to set up a head kick. She’s definitely a tough chick. It was a great fight! (Discussing her return to the Gut Check Ring) I’ll be back soon! With a few more fights, I’d definitely be open for a title shot. I’m just excited to get back to my camp and continue the momentum. I have a great team and there’s always more to learn, especially from Kru Rigel. Trust me, you’ll see Cool Hearts in the ring again. Sooner than later!”

Honorable mention to a fighter who came back from a losing battle in his last outing, and took on a seasoned veteran in his return fight was awarded to Greg Pritchett III. After Pritchett’s last tough outing against Jhalani Battle-Williams for the Gut Check 143lb Glory Rules belt, he returned ferociously against seasoned veteran, Brian D’Amato. The fight was technique against a fierce/gritty brawler whom doesn’t mind taking a few to land his own. Pritchett and D’Amato put on a show as Pritchett landed several head kicks on the outside while working his clinch work with ferocious knees. D’Amato, a seasoned veteran of the game with many fights wasn’t shy to get in Pritchett’s face to let him know he was ready to fight by coming at his him with some heavy punch combinations. Several shots landed flush for both fighters but during their endeavor, although one fighter can come out the victor, neither of them came out as losers as D’Amato put on an impressive performance. However, in the end, Pritchett came out the clear winner of the contest, thus putting him back in the winners bracket.

Speaking to Pritchett about getting back to his winning ways, he said: “Truly, this win only felt good when it happened. Afterwards, I wasn’t really all that happy with my performance. It did feel good to get my hand raised and it did feel good to be named victorious. It wasn’t an easy earned victory! But it wasn’t my best, and I haven’t felt at my best in a very long time. That leads into your next question…

“I don’t know what my future in fighting is because genuinely, I don’t like fighting.  I never have. But it’s all I’ve known since I was a kid. I didn’t play any other sport. I didn’t participate in any extracurricular activities, I only ever did martial arts and train to fight. And I don’t get the same feelings that I did when I first started fighting. They seem to elude me, which is good but bad because I feel that’s what kept me so well in tune with my fighting instincts. I’ll most likely be fighting again soon, but I don’t know for how long I’ll be going. Even 47 has his inner struggles as an assassin and right now that’s what I feel like I’m going through. My favorite book “Hitman Damnation” said it best, “I can quit anytime I want to, I just don’t want to right now.”

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FULL RESULTS:
Brooke Mullen def. Whitney Miller via UD
Cody Russell def. Bjorn Blackburn via TKO
Noah Williams def. Cory Gallagher via UD
Ricky Caldas def. Patrick Fitzgerald via UD
Jane Choe def. Stephanie Masten via UD
Darnell Ford def. Christopher Popp via MD
Jillian Garcia def. Catherine Marino via KO (Head kick)
Kristina Lafferty def. Hava Rubin via UD
Jobe Lee def. Jacob Butincu via TKO (Retired on stool)
Yasmeen Salhani def. Jenine Pilla via UD
Bobby Kaczak def. Charlie Murray via KO (Head kick)
Savlat Tursunov def. Nikko Cunningham via MD
Greg Pritchett III def. Brian D’Mato via UD
Fatima Scott def. Emmy Shea via TKO
Neil Mustafa def. Jhalani Battle-Williams via KO (Punches)

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