By Christian Malone
The Valdosta Daily Times
VALDOSTA — Mixed Martial Arts fans packed Mathis City Auditorium Saturday night for Winter Heat.
Nearly every seat at Mathis was filled, and the fans were loud during the 14 bouts.
“It went great,” said James Corbett, the event’s promoter and the owner of Valdosta Martial Arts Center. “We had a large crowd ... It’s great that the people of Valdosta came out and supported this.”
Tony “The Ringworm” Ritter won the Heat Events Advanced Amateur Light Heavyweight title with a split decision win over Hamza Abdul-Mutalib in one main event, while Brett “Bedtime” Chism won a unanimous decision over Tony Sousa in the other main event.
Ritter’s bout was a close one that he later said could have gone either way. He and Abdul-Mutalib went back and forth for most of the match. When they were standing, they traded punches and grappled. Twice, Ritter took Abdul-Mutalib down to the mat, got on top for a while and punched, then Abdul-Mutalib rolled him over and threw some punches. They battled for three straight rounds, both wanting the title belt.
After the bout went the full three rounds, two judges scored the fight 29-28 in favor of Ritter, while the third scored it 29-28 in Abdul-Mutalib’s favor. Ritter was declared the winner, and awarded the title belt.
“It’s great (to win the title),” Ritter said. “I’ve been stressing this thing ever since they said I was fighting for it. (I was) super nervous about it. I’m so excited.
“It was a super tough fight. (Abdul-Mutalib) was a really hard opponent. It could have gone either way. That was probably by far, without a doubt, the toughest opponent I’ve had yet.”
Ritter says that he and Abdul-Mutalib will probably have a rematch after they turn pro. Ritter expects to turn pro later this year.
In the other main event, both Chism and Sousa fought a defensive match, with both fighters being careful not to make a mistake that might cost them. They spent nearly the entire match on their feet.
“I’m not happy with the performance, but I did all I could against (Sousa),” Chism said. “I knew he was real good off his back, and I didn’t want to get taken down, and I didn’t want to take him down. He kept backing up into his corner, and I wanted to fight in the center of the ring. I don’t want (to fight) up against the cage, where it would be easy for him to take me down. So we were kind of stalemated in the first round. But it’s fine. A win’s a win. I did what I needed to do to win.”
Chism added that Sousa had the hardest head of anybody he has ever fought.
In the third round, Chism took command of the bout. He connected with a big right, then another one, dazed Sousa, and knocked him against the cage. An uppercut further dazed Sousa. After a couple more punches, the referee called timeout to examine Sousa. When the match resumed, Chism and Sousa went back to a defensive match. Chism finished off the match with a big takedown in the final seconds, then hit Sousa with a couple of punches before the bell rang.
“I knew there was no way he was going to submit me in 10 seconds. So I wanted to put the stamp on it, and make sure I did everything I could to win. I guess it turned out good,” Chism said.
All three judges gave the bout to Chism, 30-27, 30-27, 29-28.
Chism’s brother Tuzer had a tremendous MMA debut, knocking out Steven Davis. Only a few seconds into the bout, Tuzer Chism took Davis down to the mat, and pounded him with punches for a while. Later, with the two fighters back on their feet, Tuzer saw his opening, and unleashed a big kick to the side of Davis’ head. Davis dropped to the mat, and laid there for a while. Tuzer was awarded a knock out victory.
Ritter and the Chism brothers train at Valdosta Martial Arts Center.
Dicky Wilson (who trains at VMAC) defeated Josh Montoro (Smiley) by tap-out in his first-ever professional fight. Wilson took Montoro down early in the bout and pounded him for a while. Early in the second round, Montoro picked Wilson up and slammed him to the mat. But as Montoro prepared to slam him, Wilson wrapped his legs around Montoro, and locked the guillotine on him. Montoro tapped out a few seconds later.
“I thought Dicky looked fabulous in his first pro fight,” Corbett said. “The guy we had him up against was (real good).”
In the other professional bout, David Derby (Dirty South) defeated Shaun “The Stallion” Gay (VMAC) at 4:10 of the first round. Derby took Gay down and landed some shots on him, then Gay rolled him over and landed some punches as well. But then Derby got Gay in a guillotine and got him to tap-out.
In one of the most evenly-contested fights, Terry Blackburn (Smiley) won a split decision over Brent “War Machine” Johnson (VMAC), 29-28, 29-28, 28-29. The two fighters traded shots throughout the match, and for the most part, looked evenly matched. Johnson scored a knockdown in the third round, then pounded his opponent. In the end, all three judges ruled the fight 29-28, with two judges voting in favor of Blackburn and one in favor of Johnson.
Michael Debartolo (Mandarin Martial Arts) won a unanimous decision over Bobby Stiner (White Tiger), with all three judges scoring the bout 30-27. Debartolo took Stiner down, then stayed on top of him for most of the round in both the second and third rounds.
Eric Farmer (VMAC) defeated David Stephenson (Jenkins Martial Arts). In the second round, Farmer got Stephenson against the cage, and pounded him until the referee stepped in and stopped the fight at 1:57 of the second round.
Kelly McCarthy (VMAC) beat Lee Hendrix (Performance Martial Arts Academy) by tap out. In the second round, Hendrix slammed McCarthy to the ground, but McCarthy used his legs to put the triangle choke on him, and forced him to tap out.
Brett Cole (VMAC) defeated John Hicks (Team Cavalry). Just 80 seconds into the match, with both fighters on the ground, Cole applied the key lock, and forced Hicks to tap out.
Jay Edwards (White Tiger) won a unanimous decision over Wayne Hunter (Dirty South). All three judges scored the fight 30-27 in Edwards’ favor.
Michael Bullen (VMAC) defeated Chris Musselwhite (Performance) when the referee stopped the fight at 1:30 of the second round.
Corey McMickel defeated John Ducas (VMAC) when the referee stopped the bout at the 2:54 mark.
Austin Williams (White Tiger) defeated Nate Erby of Tallahassee by split decision, 30-27, 29-28, 28-29.
Corbett was pleased with how well the event went.
“All the people with the city were great to work with ... I’m happy that the city of Valdosta has offered us an opportunity to have this,” he said.
By Christian Malone