Ancient Greek MMA precursor Pankration to be held officially for first time in Florida history this Sunday
For the first time in history, a Pankration event endorsed by an official Pankration sanctioning body is coming to South Florida—and you can see it live this Sunday, February 22, in the LUX Nightclub located at 4000 RCA Blvd. in Palm Beach Gardens.
The ancient Greek mixed discipline combat sporting event—a precursor to modern mixed martial arts first introduced into Olympic Games in 648 BC—has been in a state of steady resurgence since Greek-American combat athlete Jim Arvantis began reconstructing the original no holds barred (but for eye gouging and biting) competition in 1969. Between then and now, the once quite brutal sport which sometimes ended in death (a result which was considered a win for the combatant left breathing) has undergone a remodeling of sorts. The version seen today is tamer in comparison to its MMA counterpart; although body and face strikes, takedowns and submissions are all allowed—and all contests can be won by score, stoppage, knockout or submission—precautionary rules have been set in place to minimize injury.
Credit for its long-awaited arrival in the Sunshine State largely belongs to featherweight fighters and promoters Sky Moiseichik and Sam Jones, who are holding the event under the redubbed organizational title Absolute Battle Championship (formerly American Battle Championships), and the USA Federation of Pankration Athlima (USAFPA)—the only US nonprofit organization recognized by both the WPAF (the World Pankration Athlima Federation) and FILA (the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles which governs the Olympic wrestling codes).
“When I started American Battle Championships, the amateur company I was involved with before, we were working through [Tennessee-based MMA practitioner and insurance salesman] Jeremy Augusta. He works for people all over the country and had mentioned Pankration to me,” recalls Moiseichik, who held 14 events under his organization’s previous name. “I really didn’t think about or do anything with it until just this last year when the state of Florida said that they were allowing all other types of traditional arts tournaments. I thought the best and closest thing to MMA in holding a traditional martial arts tournament was Pankration.”
Augusta put Moisechik in touch with USAFPA president and martial artist David Sixel, who gave Jones and him his blessing to go forward with the event. Moisechik then contacted Real Cage Fighting president Tim Morgart to help organize the event. Their vision: to keep both pro and amateur fighters active by providing them with a safe, historically relevant alternative. And because the Florida Boxing Commission recognizes Pankration as a traditional martial arts tournament, both professional and amateur fighters are permitted to compete against one another. Consequently, the results of each contest will neither positively or negatively affect anyone’s record.
“Before, there wasn’t ever a place where an amateur could go up against a pro in any sort of competition other than a grappling competition—nothing with strikes,” he says. “We’re happy to be able to bring this in and try it out, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how this goes. It’s a very safe way of fighting while remaining very realistic.”
The event, which like many traditional martial arts tournaments will be taking place on a mat rather than in a cage or boxing ring, will also host six Shanshou (Chinese kickboxing) bouts, a gi and no-gi Brazilian jiu-jitsu “superfight, and a mother/daughter Pankration grudge match.
“I take really great pride in making sure that everybody gets as even a match as possible because I feel a lot of promoters, pro and amateur, are really just looking to set people up a lot of times,” he says. “I’ve been on the bad side of them trying to set up matches and it’s really not good for the sport; people don’t want to go and see a guy get blown out. Good matchups make good fights.”
See below for the full fight card (listed in order from earliest bout to latest) and for further information.
Note: Card is subject to change.
135 lb. Sanshou
Rigerberto Hernandez vs. Emanuel Bernard
180 lb. Sanshou
Robert Sanfillipo vs. Josh “Sugarman” Zuckerman
205 lb. Pankration
Luney Guillaume vs. Fred Grey
Gi and No-Gi 180 lb. BJJ “Superfight”
Joe “the Beast” Leo vs. Eli Jeffree Zen
150 lb. Sanshou
Trenton Conner vs. Dustin Treegarden
Super Heavyweight Pankration
Scott Cullen vs. Michael Richel
205 lb. Sanshou
Shamere McClaren vs. Nick Gutierrez
155 lb. Pankration
Bryan Thiermann vs. John Kaios
145 lb. Sanshou
Collin White vs. Hunter Martinez
Mother/Daughter Pankration “Grudge Match”
Danielle McGuirl vs. Brianna McGuirl
185 lb. Sanshou Title Fight
Ken Turner vs. JoMi Noabuseasi
Absolute Battle Championship, sponsored in part by Tukano Kimonos and Rendirse Fight Gear, is set to take place in the LUX Nightclub located at 4000 RCA Blvd, Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Presale tickets start at $25; tickets at the door start at $35. Doors open at 5 p.m. with fights starting at 6. Click HERE for tickets, and HERE to visit the Absolute Battle Championship website.
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 who still believes Mickey Rourke’s finest performance in film has yet to come. He isTuffGnarl.com‘s editor-in-chief and the 2014 MMA Media Correspondent winner at the Florida MMA Awards. Follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner to talk about the stuff he writes about with him.