MMA Berwick: Beatdown for Berwick Youth

Saturday, May 7th, 2011 by Tony Reid

We made the hour long trek northeast to Berwick, PA. for Saturday Night’s MMA event. The last time I was in Berwick was more years ago than I would like to admit, lets say around 15, when I rode in on a school bus with my teammates for our high school football game and rode back home with a loss. That was the Berwick I remember, the powerhouse high school football team led by coach George Curry and a ton of talented players like quarterback Ron Powlus, among others. They were perennial USA Today National Championship contenders.

Now the town of Berwick jumps into the world of mixed martial arts and I made the trip, just not in a school bus this time around. Berwick MMA held an event called “Beatdown for Berwick Youth” to benefit the youth wrestling program there. I knew it was going to be an interesting night when, the morning of the event I got a text from my good friend and manager/trainer of the fighters at Barbarian Combat Sports, Jon Vovakes that read “The Ring Announcer for the event called in sick. You want the job?” Now there are very few opportunities in MMA that I will turn down but being a ring announcer on a few hours notice at an event that I have never heard of is one of them. The event was being held at the middle school in Berwick. We walked in and we see my buddy Vovakes right away, who at this point was trying to help run the show, which I’m pretty sure was not in his original job description, in the hallway and he tells be that three of the fights have been scrapped right off the bat because a few of the fighters did not show up. This is something you will see more often than not at smaller shows which is very disappointing.

We walk into the gymnasium and take our seats at a table by the cage. It looked like we were walking into a middle school dance and I forgot my cumber bun! There were lights and sparkles ad those little red dots flashing and running all along the walls. And there were a ton of kids in attendance, literally just running all over the place. I’m assuming they were there in support of the wrestling program. I know I would have been upset if I had paid $70 for a ringside seat or $600 for me and 9 of my best friends for a whole table and then you have 25 kids 1 parent just sitting next to you who didn’t even pay to get in! I sat directly behind the athletic commission reps that were in attendance and sat literally up against the cage. Some of the ridiculousness that I heard coming out of these guys mouths all night makes me even more anxious for mixed martial arts to get its own commission, judges and officials in place and not just have “boxing guys” or other government officials step in and be too involved with something they don’t know enough about. But that’s another story for another blog. Let’s get to the fights!

Jeremiah Wells (1-0) vs. Thomas Meyers (0-0)-The first fight of the night pitted Middleweights Jeremiah Wells against first timer Thomas Meyers.  In the first round Wells was swinging (and kicking) for the fences with every shot. He knocks Meyers down, Myers regains his composure and secures a takedown and moves to side control for a second and then back to full guard, the rounds ends with Meyers in top position as Wells attempts a triangle submission. Round two starts with some wild striking both ways as both guys open up and swing away. Wells lands more shots and Meyers eventually lands another takedown to end the round and avoid any further damage. Round three starts with solid combinations landed by Wells but Meyers lands another takedown but gets caught in a triangle choke at 1:38 of the third round.

Adam Renn (0-2) vs. Lance Slaterbeck (0-0) – The second fight was a welterweight fight between Barbarian Combat Sport’s Adam Renn and Lance Slaterbeck. Renn lands a quick takedown and even more quickly takes Slaterbeck’s back, flattens him out and attempts a rear naked choke. Slaterbeck rolls to his back giving Renn full mount. Renn grounds and pounds as the round ends. Round two starts the same as round one with a Renn takedown and some light ground and pound. Renn again, gets full mount. Round three ends as quick as it started with Renn sinking in a front choke that had Slaterbeck tapping in mere seconds. This fight was all Adam Renn, in the post fight interview he stated that it was difficult not being able to throw punches to the head on the ground (due to the fight being an amateur fight) which would have been an even bigger advantage to him in this fight. Renn was getting the crowd excited, signing autographs for all of the kids in attendance and he even got in the cage later in the night to promote the after fight party. I think he did everything but sell popcorn and he might have even done that when I wasn’t looking.

Jordan Morales (3-0) vs. Christian Caldwell (1-1) – The third fight of the night took place at 145lbs. and featured another promising prospect out of the BCS Gym in Sunbury in Morales. In the first round Morales comes out guns blazing but gets hit with a quick takedown by Caldwell, who wants no part of Morales’ standup game. Back on their feet and Caldwell is pressing against the cage for another takedown but Morales ends up on top takes Caldwell’s back and sinks in a quick rear naked choke for the finish. Jordan looked even more impressive than when I last saw him a few months back at an event in Muncy. Morales brings a lot of energy and excitement every time he steps in the cage and tonight he showed he has a ground game, too in submitting Caldwell who came in as a BJJ guy climbing the belt ladder but as Vovakes said “He just uses that belt to hold up his pants.” And tonight that was pretty much the only way Caldwell could have used that belt.

Mike Sees (3-1) vs. Zachery Beam (1-0) – The fourth fight of the evening took place at 135lbs. with BCS Fighter Sees taking on Beam. In the opening round Sees throws an overhand right setting up an opening and lands a quick takedown. He has side control and gets put back in full guard toward the end of the round. Round two Sees lands a number of solid leg kicks scores a big takedown and controls the round from top position until the final seconds when Beam tries for a desperation submission attempt. Rounds three sees another takedown by Sees and into side control. Sees controls the remainder of the round from top position en route to a unanimous decision victory.

Chase Owens (0-0) vs. Moses McCraney (1-0) – In the main event and only pro fight of the evening Middleweights Owens and McCraney get it on. Owens who has the crowd behind him enters the cage in a Darth Vader mask. The force was with him in this one, but it was a back and forth battle. In round one McCraney lands a big slam/suplex, back on the feet Moses shoots and fights hard for a single, they break and Chase lands a headkick/spinning back kick combo that gets the crowds attention. The fight hits the floor and there is transition after transition and scramble after scramble with no real damage being done or advantage being gained by one fighter or the other. It’s clear early that Chase wants the fight standing and Moses wants to take it to the ground, but not the water. Moses gets it to the ground and ends the round in side control. In round two the fight hits the floor again with Chase on bottom but he’s throwing some vicious elbows and trying to make something happen from the bottom. It goes to North South position and more scrambles and transitions. Moses mounts briefly and Chase attempts triangles from the bottom, Moses takes his back a scramble ensues. Round three Chase lands some strikes and Moses is hurt, but he scores another much needed takedown. They get back to the feet and in a scramble Chase catches Moses in a D’Arce Choke to end the fight. The crowd is very pro Chase Owens and all of the little kids and some not so little crowd around the cage for pictures autographs and just a chance to talk to Owens. The paramedics are ordered into the cage to take a look at Moses who appears to be fine after a few minutes of medical attention.

Overall the event had a number of exciting fights which had the fans going home winners and the boys from Barbarian Combat Sports were the big winners in the cage going 3-0 on the evening. It was very evident that they run a professional fight team, headed by UFC fighter Tim Boetsch and under the tutelage of managers, trainers and cornermen like Jon Vovakes and Drew Fatool, who informed me they, as a cornerman tandem, are undefeated, which I promised I would mention in the piece. The event had its ups and downs but at the end of the day a number of warriors got in the cage and put it all on the line and I got to watch it for free from the front row, how can that ever be a bad thing? I’m looking forward to more mixed martial arts events in Pennsylvania and more from the team at BCS.

*Tony Reid is the owner of Reid Fight Wear, a monthly contributor to TapouT and MMA Worldwide Magazines, a regular contributor to and would step into the cage himself if he wasn’t so afraid of messing up his hair.

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*My write up of the event was picked up by a number of local media outlets including The Daily Item, where it ran in the newspaper the following day and on Ted Czech’s York Blog MMA Explosion