Category Archives: MMA

Rocktagon MMA invades North Olmsted

Official Press Release:

Rocktagon MMA is back in action at the North Olmsted Soccer Sportsplex in North Olmsted, OH on March 26th 2011.  Headlining the show is a bantamweight rematch featuring submission specialist Dante Pennachio versus the ultra-intense Rob Miller.  Both fighters are known for their explosiveness in the cage and are sure to entertain with their action packed styles.   Rocktagon is also featuring their first ever female co-main event between Marcia May and Trisha Barr which also happens to be a rematch.   Both of these fights were so exciting that Rocktagon had to run them back and give the fans the fistic fury they have come to expect from the nation’s fastest growing promotion.  

The Breakdown:

Main Event 135 lb Title:

Dante Pennachio holds a very impressive record of 4-1 with his only loss coming to Miller.  Dante has won all of fights by submission and is known as a fight finisher.  He will be looking to make a statement in this fight by taking Miller out early.


Rob Miller (8-2) has fought in an unbelievable 7 championship bouts.  Rob brings a high paced, boxing and wrestling style to the cage and is well known for his relentless style.  This will be Rob’s first fight in the Rocktagon arena.

Co-Main Event:

Marcia May (4-3) has fought some of Ohio’s best including Jessica Eye and Ronda Gale. Marcia brings a crippling submission game, with all of her wins coming by way of tap out.  Marcia’s experience and savvy ground techniques should make her the fighter to beat in 2011.


Trisha Barr (3-4) is a ground shark in her own right, finishing all three opponents by submission.  Trisha is a dominant force and is looking to redeem her loss to May in a big way.  This could be the best female fight of the New Year.

Make sure you reserve your seat now as it is about to go down, as two of the area’s best 135 pound fighters lock horns in the nation’s fastest growing promotion.  

*Card and Schedule Subject to Change

“Cage Stars Amateur Elite Series 4” is brought to you by Lone Tree Tavern. Don’t miss this exciting night of fights! Join Rocktagon MMA on Saturday, March 26th at North Olmsted Soccer Sportsplex in North Olmsted, OH. Doors open at 5:00 pm ET.  Fights begin at 7:00 pm ET. Tickets range from $20.00 to $40.00 at the door. Call 440-934-4662 for more information.

About Rocktagon MMA:

Ohio based Rocktagon MMA is a premier mixed martial arts and entrainment group dedicated to hosting quality events and taking highly skilled MMA fighters from obscurity to the National level. At Rocktagon MMA we treat each fighter like an individual business. We focus on the fighter, their skills, and their image, as we help them build a strong presence in the mixed martial arts arena.

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Looking for an MMA Gym? Give the GriffonRawl MMA Academy a look

By Shaun Bennett

The GriffonRawl MMA Academy in Mentor is considered one of the premier mixed martial arts schools in Ohio, but the origin of the school came from a matter of necessity.

The school was born out of the GriffonRawl Muay Thai team that was founded in 1997 by Dan Rawlings. Jason Dent, who began training in martial arts at 13, was Rawlings most promising kickboxing student, and when Rawlings took his craft to the sunny shores of Florida in 2003 he left the Ohio team in Dent’s care.

Dent continued to run the kickboxing classes out of a karate studio, but when the studio decided to move to a smaller space and required a larger rent payment of Dent and his team, Dent decided to begin his own business.

“I was really nervous,” Dent said. “I was happy sharing the karate studio and I was kind of forced to take the risk. So I bought my own building, my own space, my own lease.”

Dent continued to run the Muay Thai regimen, but added a few other disciplines to help his students become more well-rounded and prepared for the world of cage fighting.

“The Muay Thai of course covered kickboxing, knees and your basic striking, but I also incorporated a boxing program,” Dent said. “Of course we also began offering classes in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which is a staple for MMA fighters, and we teach from the Relson Gracie Jiu Jitsu Association. We also added a simple MMA class that covers anything and everything those other classes don’t cover – such as takedowns, takedown defense, ground striking and so on.”

Dent also makes sure to bring in big names in the disciplines to run seminars. He flies in Rawlings, who runs two GriffonRawl schools of his own in Tampa, Fla., twice a year, and has had several UFC fighters come to the school, including a recent appearance by Gray “The Bully” Maynard, who was a wrestling star at nearby St. Edward High School in Lakewood.

The school has also been able to offer its students the best in the way of equipment and training atmosphere, mostly due to Dent’s success in recent years. The school’s owner has had two stints in the UFC, a run on the promotion’s reality television show “The Ultimate Fighter” and has traveled the world fighting for big promotions.

“I had some success, and any money I made from my fights I immediately invested back in the school,” Dent said. “I’d win some money and I’d buy a new cage, or we ended up tearing down a wall to include our studio space (to its current size of 6,000 square feet).”

The results have been an increased performance by Dent, but also stronger performances by the stable of nearly 30 amateur and six professional fighters that compete under the GriffonRawl name.

“I just went with Donny Walker to the new tryouts for The Ultimate Fighter,” Dent said. “He’s on a seven-win streak as a professional and I think he’s got a good chance to do well.”

Walker is trying to earn a spot on the show that is rumored to be coached by former WEC stars Uriah Faber and Dominick Cruz. The show would tape while the upcoming season – starring coaches Brock Lesnar and Junior Dos Santos – airs on Spike, and would be the first to feature featherweight and bantamweight hopefuls.

“We have Bryon McCroskey who just made his pro debut and won by knockout,” Dent said. “We also have George Comer who went 9-0 as an amateur and was the first person two win two national championships in two different weight classes with the NAAFS. He’s turning pro in his next fight.”

Not that the school is designed to turn out world-class MMA fighters.

“We bring people in to train for fun, to train for experience and to train as a means to stay in shape,” Dent said. “If after awhile with the program they still decide they’d like to fight for our team, then we figure it out.”

Dent puts fighters through a mix of the disciplines the school offers, focusing on areas that each fighter may still be weak. If a fighter decides to fight under the GriffonRawl banner, Dent becomes their manager and helps guide their career.

“If they represent our team, they’ll fight where I say and when I say,” Dent said. “I’m very fair. I’m their manager and they’re free to leave anytime they’d like to try something else.”

The words may seem harsh, but Dent’s relationships with his fighters are honest and deep. He said he has no problem turning away more talented fighters if they aren’t willing to be coached or come into the training sessions with a bad attitude.

The biggest reason for this philosophy is that Dent works tirelessly for his school and its fighters and wants it to remain fun … and it has so far.

“I enjoy it so much,” he said. “It’s always been a hobby of mine, and now it just happens to be my full-time job. I get a thrill out of seeing guys reach their potential and start fighting for the big-time shows. My ultimate goal is to be flying all over the country cornering my guys in the biggest shows.”

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Mixed Martial Arts rising star Chris Lozano

By Shaun Bennett

While Chris Lozano has 11 siblings, it was two in particular – older brothers Luis Lozano and Cody Roberts – that prepared him for the world of mixed martial arts.

“Other kids play video games growing up, but all we did was fight,” Lozano said. “It was the typical wrestling and rough-housing that you have between brothers. I think they had fun kicking my ass.”

Those days are long behind him, and it’s Lozano who hands out the beatings these days.

The fighter, who was born, raised and still resides in Cleveland, has climbed the MMA ladder to success. After a brief amateur stint, Lozano blew threw five professional fights with the North American Allied Fight Series – one of the top regional promotions in the Midwest – before splitting his last two fights with Bellator Fighting Championships – a national promotion.

His venture into cage fighting began early in life.

Beside the playful fights at home and the more serious fights in the streets of his ever-changing neighborhoods – “We moved a lot,” Lozano said – he began competing in tae kwon do tournaments at 8 years old.

“It was awesome,” Lozano said. “I enjoyed contact and I did well. Once I got into middle school I began wrestling, and when I got to (Berea and Midpark) high school I already knew I wanted to pursue a career in MMA.”

Lozano began to look for gyms to train in the sport, but MMA hadn’t gained a high level of popularity and he settled on training in boxing at the Old School Boxing Club on Cleveland’s East Side. The venue was recommended to him by family friend Ray Mills.

“Ray took me there and then the coaches took over,” Lozano said. “They thought I had some talent, so every time I walked into the gym, I had someone ready to work with me. I had four or five coaches at one time. I was very lucky.”

Lozano fell in love with boxing and somehow found himself on the path to becoming a professional boxer.

“I knew I was going to fight for a living, one way or another,” he said. “The reason I went there was to get good at boxing for MMA. Somewhere along the way I forgot that.”

Before Lozano became fully committed to a boxing lifestyle, he stumbled upon the StrongStyle gym in Independence and once again became hooked by MMA. He continued to develop his tae kwon do, wrestling and boxing skills, and added Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu – which he holds a blue belt in – to his training regiment.

“I wanted to be well-versed,” Lozano said. “I tried a lot of different styles and I try to train in everything. It’s really the same things that most (MMA) fighters are doing now.”

It was six months from the moment he walked into StrongStyle before he stepped into the cage for the first time. It was a year and six fights later – after accumulating a 5-1 amateur record – that Lozano decided to turn pro.

Lozano knocked out Marcus Kuck in the first round of his professional debut – it lasted all of 37 seconds. Then came a 47-second knockout of John Fields, followed by a first-round knockout of Allan Weickert, followed by a first-round knockout of Brandon Gaines – all between June 2009 and March 2010.

“I was training like crazy,” Lozano said. “My trainers were big on mental toughness. I wasn’t worried about going deep into fights … I knew I’d be OK.”

Lozano’s first professional fight that lasted longer than five minutes came against Jason Dent, who had become the area’s top MMA name after a run on the UFC’s reality television show “The Ultimate Fighter” and a handful of fights for the sport’s top promotion.

Dent was also the top name in the NAAFS, and Lozano not only gained recognition and high praise by earning a fight with Dent, but for handing the seasoned veteran a technical knockout defeat in the fourth round.

“That was a huge fight for me,” Lozano said. “That was kind of the turning point in my career. I was being tested by a guy who had been at a higher level, who had fought against guys at a much higher level.”

Shortly after his fight with Dent, Lozano was contacted by Bellator agent Sam Caplan, who had gotten hold of some of Lozano’s fight footage.

“He thought I was a promising prospect,” Lozano said. “He said I just needed to win a qualifying fight.”

That fight was against Japan’s Yoshiyuki Yoshida in Lake Charles, La., last September. Lozano stopped Yoshida with a second-round TKO.

“I was so ready for that fight,” Lozano said. “It was the hardest I’ve ever trained for a fight in my life. My trainers helped take me to another level. I was focused … I had a totally different mindset.”

The victory landed Lozano in the Bellator Welterweight Tournament on March 5, where he faced Lyman Good in a quarterfinal matchup in Lemoore, Calif. The fight went the distance and Lozano suffered his first professional loss when Good was awarded a unanimous decision.

An accidental headbutt damaged Lozano’s eye during the fight, but he said that wasn’t the greatest factor in the loss.

“I had a six-month layoff between fights and I really didn’t fight the way I usually do,” Lozano said. “There were such high expectations. It was my first live fight on MTV, in the main event. I wish I had another fight between the two (Bellator) fights so I could have gotten rid of some of the ring rust.”

Lozano said Good wasn’t as tough an opponent as others he’s fought in his career, and if the two meet again Lozano guarantees he’ll be victorious.

But for now it’s back to the cage. Lozano is slated to fight on the NAAFS card on April 16 in Canton, before returning to fight for Bellator in June. Anything beyond that isn’t a concern at this point.

“The only thing I’m focused on is being the best fighter at 170 pounds in Bellator,” Lozano said. “Do I want to win a title? Hell, yeah. That’s all I think about. It’s all that’s on my mind.”

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Q&A with NAAFS promoter Greg Kalikas

By Shaun Bennett

Greg Kalikas was born and raised in Canton, Ohio, and now resides in Uniontown. The 1992 Glenoak High graduate studied business and marketing at the University of Akron for two years before finding his true calling as a mixed martial arts promoter. Kalikas has grown his promotion – North American Allied Fight Series – into a regional power, with hopes to conquer the nation.

Q: How did you get started in MMA?

A: I’ve been involved in martial arts my whole life. I started competing at seven, mostly in tae kwon do and karate. I even made the national karate team as an alternate. Like everyone else, I also watched the UFC and became a fan of the sport. So I started doing a local radio show called Pro Karate Weekly – we aired on WKNR even though we broadcast in the studios of SportsTalk Cleveland – and we had (kickboxing and Muay Thai legend) Duke Roufus call in regularly from Milwaukee, Wisc., to recap the bigger events of the week. He talked me into doing an MMA show in Cleveland.

Q: How did the first show go?

A: It worked out pretty well … that was the first Fight Night in the Flats. Duke knew my background in marketing and he knew we already had a built-in fanbase in the Cleveland area. He had the background in the sport and thought it’d be a good idea to combine our talents. The first couple of shows went under Duke’s promotion name – Gladiators Fighting – before I decided to branch out on my own.

Q: What was you plan of attack in building the company?

A: I said from the beginning that if we did what we said we were going to do, it’d eventually be a success. But I never imagined it’d get to where we are today. It really comes down to the talent pool. Once we started doing successful shows, we started getting contacted by successful fighters and camps. We started getting more fighters than we could keep busy.

Q: How did you handle that pleasant problem?

A: We decided to do some smaller, amateur events. We started doing shows in Columbus, Akron, Steubenville … we got it up to 20-30 shows a year in Ohio. It’s to the point now where we could do two shows a weekend and still not keep all our fighters busy.

Q: How did you get your shows on television?

A: Obviously that was a great moment for us and a good opportunity. We’ve very thankful to SportsTime Ohio for giving us that opportunity. They were airing another promotion at the time – I don’t want to give the name of that promotion – and many people thought that was the only MMA promotion in the state. But we thought we put on a better show. So STO began airing both shows and I assume they were just going to let the best promotion win. We have just signed a national television deal, so NAAFS will be on national TV this year, but I just can’t say which network right now.

Q: What has been the secret to NAAFS’s success?

A: First and foremost is the talent, and it’s improved drastically over the years and continues to do so. Also helping was the people we have on the NAAFS crew. You’re only as good as your staff and we’ve been lucky enough to have a great group of people. It’s almost like we have a tight-knit family, and it shows in what we do. The shows have gotten bigger and better throughout the year.

Q: What improvements have you made to the shows?

A: We’ve added lights, sounds, video packages … it’s not just about the fights any more. We want people to feel the whole experience when they come to one of our shows.

Q: Has having several NAAFS fighters, like Chris Lozano and Jessica Eye, move on to bigger promotions been a source of accomplishment?

A: Our motto from Day 1 has been, ‘The MMA stars of tomorrow fight here today.’ We know we’re never going to compete with the UFC, we really don’t want to. We want to be partners with the UFC. We want to get talented fighters ready to fight for promotions like the UFC. We want them to be able to do interviews, get used to the entrance lights and music, be able to talk in front of the camera. We want the UFC, Bellator, StrikeForce to look to us first when they need a fighter for their promotion.

Q: What does the future hold for the NAAFS?

A: Our long-term goal is to truly become a global promotion. We’d like to do shows around the country – Colorado, Florida, Texas – and our national television deal could be a big part of that. We’ve been one of the top regional promotions for awhile, so we feel it’s time to branch out. But just like we’ve gained success locally, we know the way to do it is slow and steady. By doing things the right way.

— Shaun Bennett

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Upcoming MMA Events

4/9/11 – Amateur event in Akron at the Chapparell Community Center, 2418 S. Arlington Rd.

4/9/11 – Amateur event in Nelsonville at Hocking College, 3301 Hocking Parkway

4/9/11 – Pro/am event in Parma at Ohio Nets Sports Complex, 12666 Corporate Dr.

4/9/11 – Pro/am event in Forest Park at Metropolis Night Club, 125 Cincy Mills Rd.

4/16/11 – Amateur event in Cincinnati at the Big Show Gym, 4601 Eastgate Blvd.

4/16/11 – Pro/am event in Canton at the Canton Civic Center, 1101 Market Ave. N.

4/16/11 – Pro/am event in Mansfield at the Richland County Fairgrounds, 750 N. Home Rd.

4/16/11 – Pro/am event in Findlay at The Cube, 3430 N. Main St.

4/23/11 – Amateur event in Elyria at the Midway Mall, 4377 Midway Mall Blvd.

4/23/11 – Amateur event in Fremont at the 4H building, 901 Rawson Ave

4/30/11 – Amateur event in Brookfield at the Yankee Lake Ballroom, 1814 SR 7

4/30/11 – Amateur event in Akron at Pronio’s Sports, 2420 Wedgewood Dr

5/7/11 – Amateur event in Marrietta at the Washington City Fairgrounds, 922 Front St.

5/7/11 – Pro/am event in Toledo at the Civic Center, 237 S. Erie St.

5/14/11 – Pro/am event in Columbus at the Lifestyle Pavilion, 405 Neil Ave

5/15/11 – Amateur event in Cuyahoga Falls at Emidio & Sons Expo Center, 48 E. Bath

5/21/11 – Amateur event in Columbus at the Ohio Expo Center, 717 East 17th Ave

5/21/11 – Pro/am event in Tiffin at Black Swamp Volleyball, 1625 S. CR 1

5/21/11 – Amateur event in Cincinnati at the Big Show Gym, 4601 Eastgate Blvd.

5/21/11 – Pro/am event in Streetsboro at The Arena, 1543 Streetsboro Plaza

5/21/11 – Amateur event in North Olmsted at the Soccer Sportsplex, 31515 Lorain Rd.

6/4/11 – Pro/am in Cleveland at Nautica Pavilion, 2014 Sycamore St.

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