Posted 11/04/2013 by Jesse Scheckner in Fight Time Promotions

Fight Time 17: Undisputed – A Review of the Entire Card

Former Olympic wrestler Steven Mocco attempting a kimura on Alonzo Roane .

Former Olympic wrestler Steven Mocco attempting a kimura on Alonzo Roane .

Fight Time Promotions’ Fight Time 17: Undisputed, which occurred this last Friday at the War Memorial Auditorium in Ft. Lauderdale, was an action-packed card from top to bottom, shining a light on several promising South Florida prospects. There were knockouts, submissions and back-and-forth battles, and by the end only two of the eight bouts saw the judges’ scorecards.

In the space provided below, I will detail every bout of the evening, their pivotal moments and some of my thoughts. As an added bonus, I snagged a brief interview with returning bruiser Chris Zuniga, the transcript of which is posted below his corresponding fight.

NOTE — Something you’ll notice as the photos progress – they get brighter. See, I have a setting on my camera called “Action Freeze” that takes photos faster and decreases motion blur. The only catch? Less light. This is great for daytime photography (this is the same camera I used for my coverage of the UFC 168 Press Tour), but it leaves a lot to be desired when used cageside. Upon realizing this issue, I just used plain old “Auto.” Suddenly, everything was a lot clearer!)

Matt Wagy (left) made short work of his opponent, Patrick Thomas.

Matt Wagy (left) made short work of his opponent, Patrick Thomas.

Featherweight (145 lbs.) Fight – 3 Rounds
Matt Wagy [2-0] def. Patrick Thomas [0-3] by TKO (elbows and punches) – R1, 1:46

Coming into this match, Wagy, 21, made his professional debut less than months ago against Lazaro Almea, winning by second-round doctor’s stoppage. Thomas has fought twice before for Fight Time Promotions, losing both previous bouts by first-round rear-naked choke submission. Before turning pro, Wagy had done excellently as an amateur with a record of (8-2-1) winning the Infuse Fight Gear (IFG) featherweight championship.

Both fighters came out in orthodox stances, exchanging on the feet briefly. Wagy closed the distance, initiated a clinch against the cage followed by a takedown, moving quickly into the mount position, raining down punches and elbows until the ref mercifully pulled him off.

With two impressive TKO stoppages in his professional career, Wagy is indeed a prospect to watch.

Joe Leo (not pictured) put such a hurt on Damion Williams during his pro MMA debut that they had to give Williams oxygen after the bout. It was several tense minutes before Williams was able to walk out of the cage.

Joe Leo (not pictured) put such a hurt on Damion Williams during his pro MMA debut that they had to give Williams oxygen after the bout. It was several tense minutes before Williams was able to walk out of the cage.

Middleweight (185 lbs.) Fight – 3 Rounds
Joe “The Beast” Leo [1-0] def. Damion “The Outlaw” Williams [2-4] by TKO (strikes) – R1, 4:45

Florida fighters Joe Leo and Damion Williams put on a fantastic, violent fight. Leo, who was making his debut, had fought almost exclusively for Fight Time Promotions in their amateur MMA division, while Williams, who fights out of ATT Sunrise, hadn’t legitimately won a fight since 2011 when he won by first-round forearm choke.

Williams was considerably larger than Leo, who looks like he doesn’t cut much weight. Both men exchanged on the feet, Leo establishing a good jab, mixing up kicks and switching stances regularly (and naturally – his karate background was very well-represented) to keep Williams, who was far less light on the feet, guessing. There were several times where the fighters exchanged blows willy-nilly, rock-em-sock-em style. That isn’t the kind of fight Leo will want to pursue in the future, especially if he insists on staying at this weight class. He finally caught Williams with a solid one-two which put him on wobbly legs and followed up with strikes until the ref pulled him off.

Leo looked very good, though I’d like to see him keep his chin tucked down a little more and perhaps cut some weight in order to fight guys more his size.

Chris Zuniga (right) celebrates a hard-fought majority decision victory over R.J. Goodridge. It was his first fight back after a six-year layoff.

Chris Zuniga (right) celebrates a hard-fought majority decision victory over R.J. Goodridge. It was his first fight back after a six-year layoff.

Lightweight (155 lbs.) Fight – 3 Rounds
Chris Zuniga [3-2] def. Robert “R.J.” Goodridge [5-3] – Majority Decision

Interesting plot thread going into this fight: Zuniga, 27, lost his last fight by TKO and hadn’t fought since 2007. Both of his previous wins had come by first-round TKO, and Friday’s fight was the first time he’d seen a judge’s scorecard. Goodridge, on the other hand, started off his career winning four straight before alternating wins and losses, losing his last fight by decision at Fight Time 14.

There was an enormous disparity in the body types of the two fighters, with Goodridge being long, lean and muscular and Zuniga being far more compact. The most effective strike of the bout was Zuniga’s overhand right, which time and again caught Goodridge crisply. While watching, I was certain the fight wouldn’t go the distance.

Goodridge displayed decent technique, landing several takedowns and attempting armbars, knee bars, rear-naked chokes and triangles from his back and landing a very nice flying knee in the first round. Zuniga showed no ring rust, sweeping Goodridge a pair of times and landing medium-level damage inside his opponent’s guard. Despite being the aggressor on the grappling front, Zuniga’s efficacy on the feet proved to be the deciding factor, earning him a deserved majority decision in a fight that ended with a huge flurry from both fighters at the end that had the crowd on its feet.

Is that the only shirt I own!?

Is that the only shirt I own!?

Congratulations on your win. You’ve been out of competition for a while. Where’ve you been?
Yeah, six years. You know, I decided to go back to school, I went to the fire academy and I did EMT training… I tried to get a career going. I was just concentrating on school things. I got married. I started a family and I was just concentrating on other things. Now I’m in the police academy.
So you’re in the saving lives business and you’re in the hurt business…
I don’t really see it as trying to hurt people. It happens, but to me it’s just competition. I like competition, I like challenging myself and we all know what we’re getting into. I feel like I was born to be a warrior, and that’s what I like to do. I like to do that, but I also like to give back, so now I’m in the police academy which is something else, I want to give back to the community and this [fighting] is where I get to get that other side of me out, you know, that thing a lot of people don’t get to express.
A lot of people without a five-year layoff would almost feel no longer at home in the cage. How did you reacquaint yourself with that? Was it just going back into training, going through the rounds again?
Even though I was off for six years, I never stopped training. I kept up with jiu-jitsu as a hobby. When I got married I moved up north to New Jersey – I’ve trained with Kurt Pellegrino for the last three years – and I learned a lot from those guys. A lot of tough guys. I’m in there sparring, hanging with good guys who fight in Bellator, Strikeforce, WEC and UFC, and so if I can hang with those guys, I want to see what I can do when I get back in the cage. Unfortunately, circumstances didn’t allow me to stay in New Jersey, so I moved back home to Vero Beach and luckily I met up with some great guys there that have my back and I got back in shape and got back in there.
The one punch that I saw that was absolute money from bell to bell was that overhand right of yours. Is that your favorite, go-to strike?
Yeah, a lot of people say that I have a good overhand right. I just kind of throw it. It just kind of happens. It seems to land a lot.
You caught Goodridge with that really well early on. It’s amazing he didn’t go down from that.
You know, R.J. is a tough, tough guy. I’ve seen him fight a lot of times. I’ve actually trained with him before Kurt Pellegrino at The Armory in Jupiter and he’s a tough dude and I knew he wasn’t- I knew it was going to go three rounds. I knew he wasn’t going to go down easy.
So are we going to see more of you in the future now that you’re back?
Definitely. I’ve got more fights for Fight Time. I’ll definitely be back in the cage.

 Jason Soares gets his hand raised following a quick first-round submission victory.

Jason Soares gets his hand raised following a quick first-round submission victory.

Featherweight (145 lbs.) Fight – Three Rounds
Jason Soares [4-0] def. Tristan Payne [3-4] – Submission by Rear-naked Choke (RNC) – R1, 1:40

Payne, 28, was on a two–fight losing streak, his last loss coming by first-round KO at Fight Time 15. He had previously won twice by KO, once by UD and had lost each possible way. Inactive during 2012, the Tallahassee-based fighter had a fight at least once a year since his debut in October 2009. Across from him was Jason Soares, 23, who had gone undefeated since his 2012 debut, winning his last two fights by submission and his debut by second-round TKO.

In the opening moments, Soares caught Payne with a very nice head kick, putting him on his heels. Payne returned fire after being backed against the cage, dropping Soares, who responded with a successful takedown, taking his opponent’s back against the cage before sinking in a quick and sweet first-round submission.

Soares, who comes from a solid wrestling background, looks to be rising through the ranks rather well. Undefeated at 23, he still needs to win a couple more fights before being seriously considered for a call up, but he’s one to watch.

 Yoislandy Izquierdo and his teammates show continue to mean mug long after the fight has been called.

Yoislandy Izquierdo (center) stays true to his nickname, holding up the Cuban flag following his TKO victory.

Lightweight (155 lbs.) Fight – Three Rounds
Yoislandy “Cuba” Izquierdo [9-2] def. Avery McPhatter [2-4] by TKO (strikes) – R3, :30

A hell of a fight. Izquierdo, 29, was on a two-fight win streak (both in fight time – this was his third fight straight with the promotion this year) after going 0-2 in the UFC during 2012. Before being called up, he went undefeated in his first six fights. A knockout guy, he had five wins by KO, one by submission and two by decision. To supplement his iron fists is a likewise granite jaw; he’s never been knocked out himself.

“The Irish Hurricane” McPhatter, a 24-year-old Tampa fighter, is a tall (6’2”) lightweight. Coming into the fight on a two-fight losing skid – one in Fight Time (by decision) and one in Bellator – he had also fought for XFC, splitting wins and losses. He’d been absent from the sport for two years, losing his last fight by TKO.

Izquierdo showed great creativity in his in-cage performance. He came out and immediately showed off some flashy Capoiera techniques – a spinning wheel kick and spinning backfist, which he landed, putting McPhatter on wobbly legs towards the cage.

This was hardly a one-sided beating, however Izquierdo certainly showed crisper strikes from a deeper playbook. He did fight like it was a one round fight, however, and I was concerned he would wilt in the later rounds. He also was able to take McPhatter down several times and showed some good jiu-jitsu as well, putting his opponent in a few disadvantageous positions.

The fight came to an end when “Cuba” caught McPhatter early in the third round and put him away with a flurry of strikes. A few more like this over loftier competition and we may see Izquierdo get called up to the big show sooner rather than later.

Steve Mocco moves to 4-0 with this victory.

Steve Mocco moves to 4-0 with this victory.

Heavyweight (207+ lbs.) Fight – Three Rounds
Steve Mocco [4-0] def. Alonzo Roane [3-4] by submission (arm triangle) – R3, :47

This fight was bumped up to co-main event status when it was announced that had named it the fight to watch in the month of November. Mocco, 31, is a former 2008 heavyweight Olympic wrestler who was brought into ATT to help “Bigfoot” Silva train for his UFC 146 fight with Cain Velasquez. He made his debut in Ed Soares’ RFA promotion back in November 2012 and had since gone undefeated, winning twice by submission and once by unanimous decision. Roane had his first fight in 2008 and then didn’t fight for two years. When he finally came back, he won his first fight, though he has since gone 1-3.

Mocco landed a good takedown in the first round, showing decent movement on the ground to maintain advantageous position and regularly searching for submission. Roane showed incredible single-arm strength when he staved off a very scary kimura. Once Mocco adds a bit more brutality to his ground and pound his grappling game is going to be very scary indeed. He did show good potential, however, throwing some varied striking including front kicks and a crisp right straight.

By the third round, the Olympian chipped away enough at his opponent to sink in a very nice arm triangle to seal the deal. Now at 4-0, it’s time for a step up in competition. I’d like to see this guy go against a good striker with legitimate take down defense.

 The ref mercifully pulls Patrick Williams off of his opponent.

The ref mercifully pulls Patrick Williams off of his opponent.

Featherweight (145 lbs.) Fight – Three Rounds
Patrick Williams [7-3] def. Rafael Dias [16-11-2] by TKO (strikes) – R1, 2:17

The main event, though it ended quickly, was a great bout nonetheless. Williams, 32, has only been fighting since 2010 and, like his opponent,was undefeated in the Fight Time promotion going into their contest. A well-rounded fighter with a 7-3 record, winning three fights by KO, two by submission and once by decision. One of his losses included a KO to Pablo Alfonso, the guy who recently submitted Miguel Torres at WSOF 6.

Dias, 34, fights out of ATT and is, by and large, a submission artist, fighting professionally since 2004. He’s fought for Bellator, WEC and IFL and had seen some success in Fight Time, being undefeated in the two previous appearances he made in the promotion.

The main event started with Williams coming out very strong, landing some great strikes. Dias, not liking what he was seeing, attempted a takedown but Williams answered back with a front headlock. Very explosive and quick, Williams just picked Dias apart on the feet, nailing him with a flying knee against the cage. Dias showed Williams some adversity, threatening with some good subs, but Williams managed to fight his way out, landing a powerful right hook which floored Dias. He followed it up, pounding out his opponent in a bloody beatdown.

Needless to say, this Patrick Williams guy has got some chops. Though his opponent had three times the number of fights he’d had, he performed as if he were the veteran, giving Dias nothing to work with. At 32, he needs to keep his foot on the gas pedal.

(All photos were taken by but are, as stipulated by Fight Time Promotions, the property of Fight Time Promotions.)

Jesse Scheckner

A freelance MMA, entertainment and business journo born, raised and residing in Miami, FL, Jesse Scheckner is a former semi-serious musician, cinephile and recovering ne’er-do-well committed to nonfiction storytelling. He is the 2014 Florida MMA Awards "Best MMA Media Correspondent" winner and a two-time Miami New Times "Best Of" winner. Follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner to talk about the stuff he writes about with him.