The Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Care About Eric Bledsoe Vs. RJ Buck:

Undefeated professional RJ Buck (1-0) has been tasked with taking on the also undefeated prospect Eric Bledsoe (1-0) this weekend at the Canton Civic Center in sunny Canton Ohio.   This is a tough match up between two really talented guys and the ripple effect will be felt all the way out here in our little piece of the world. Below are the top 5 reasons why you should care about Eric Bledsoe versus RJ Buck. 

Eric Bledsoe is one of the brightest prospects at 145 in the game right now

If you took a polling of super tough, super talented featherweight pros out there, Eric Bledsoe is going to be somewhere in my top 3.   I'm still impressed by his KO over Matt Conahan last year and his one-sided performances over Fadi Shuman and Zach Cook have further solidified his status as a serious player in this game.   Bledsoe offers a nasty blend of smooth power striking and smothering domination on the floor with a slicker than expected jits game that makes him a threat in more than one area.  

Two threats are a necessity in this game in 2014.

RJ buck has totally changed his game and it’s paying off

Buck has stepped up his game and it is paying off in spades.  Once an above average amateur prospect, Buck has put together 5 wins in his last, you guessed it, 5 fights, including 3 finishes over some notable competition.    His debut was a razor thin, fairly controversial win over PA prospect Mike Putnam back in June of this year but aside from that he has posted very dominating performances.   I’ll be perfectly honest here, I think he moved to Strong Style, but I don’t even know if that’s true or if he’s still there but at the end of the day the kid is putting up the right numbers in the right columns.

Check out the rest after the jump:

The Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Care About Cody Stevens Vs. Frank Caraballo

Frank Caraballo (13-7) and Cody Stevens (11-7-1) will step into the cage next Saturday in Canton, Ohio in a fight that pits two of the area's bigger names against one another. Both guys have had some big show experience and both are very exciting to watch.  Below are the top 5 reason why you should care about Cody Stevens versus Frank Caraballo. 

Both guys come to fight, every time out

I have watched Caraballo for years now and with that said there are only a few certainties in life A. Taxes B. Death C. Caraballo is going to try and take someone's head off.   It's sorta like how fall follows summer, it's natural.  His adversary, Cody Stevens has been fighting for years and doesn't know how to be in a bad fight. His nickname is the Wolverine for Christ sakes.  He pushes forward blasting and battering opponents until they eventually fold under the pressure.  And if they don't fold, he'll keep grinding, hitting hard low kicks, sharp right hands mixed in with the occasional take down and other face punching techniques.  

These two guys only move one way and that is forward.  Which can be tough on them, but great for us, who I like to refer to as “the business casual” observers.

Both guys need a win to get back in the big picture

Both Stevens and Caraballo have had some experience fighting outside of the region, Stevens taking on Japanese star Shinya Aoki and Caraballo throwing hands with Canadian standout Chris Horodecki, but unfortunately came up short in both efforts.  A win here for either guy puts them one step closer to being brought back into the national caliber conversation. These "do or die" situations always produce the best results in terms of fights because the motivation is there to go for it.   Kinda like Rocky V without the diner scene or the 80's ballads.

Check out the rest after the jump:

The Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Care About Cody Garbrandt Vs. Charles Stanford:

Cody "No Love" Garbrandt (4-0) is stepping into the cage to take on fellow Ohio prospect Charles Stanford (5-2) October 4th in Canton, Ohio.  Both guys are in coming off of stoppage wins and both are looking to finish off the year with a huge win over another dangerous opponent. The top 5 reasons you should care about Cody Garbrandt Versus Charles Stanford are listed below.

Garbrandt is a fight or two away from hitting the big time

If training full time at Team Alpha Male didn't give it away, No Love is not too far away from gracing the UFC with his presence.   All he needs is a few more key, impressive wins over legit opposition.   Enter Charles Stanford.  Rumor mill has it that UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby will be watching this one carefully.  Which obviously means that if Garbrandt shows up and puts on another high level, elite performance it's probably safe to say that he will be there sooner than later.

Stanford would be pulling off the upset of the year

Stanford is a very dangerous, very athletic, very durable opponent. Nothing is a given in this fight in any way.  If Garbrandt puts together what equals an off night, or even a "pretty good" performance, Stanford has the type of abilities to stop this train with one shot.   Stanford has alot of tricky techniques and worse yet, national caliber speed, but more on this later. Stanford has that exact blend of attributes to give anyone problems with the experience in higher level fights to put it together.   I would tend to guess the majority of the casual observers watching this (or reading) would lean towards Garbrandt as the outright favorite, I would say that the odds could be much closer depending on who shows up on Saturday.

Check out the rest after the jump:

Training Durnell: Week 3 Rudolph Tears His Bicep And More

Training Durnell: Week 3 Rudolph’s Bicep

Tuesday 9/16: This week our camp sustained a fairly sizeable set back when up and coming amateur prospect Gregg Rudolph tore his bicep 2 minutes into the first round of a planned sparring session Tuesday morning.   For those of you who don’t know, I have been Gregg’s boxing coach for the last year or so and together we have put together some fairly impressive skills in that amount of time.

Gregg is arguably the best athlete I have worked with and his ability to learn and utilize high level movements at full speed is pretty remarkable for a guy with relatively no prior experience.  Well expect for cleaning out the Southside a few times a year obviously, but other than that, I don’t think he’s even tried karate as a kid.

Any way things were just getting started and both Anthony and Gregg were loosening up and one punch later Gregg is circling the ring looking down and I knew we were in trouble.  I was actually with Gregg the first time he tore his bicep, a sparring session at Conn-Grebb in Oakland, so I was much more prepared to deal with this type of injury, which can be fairly gruesome if you don’t know what to expect.   This time was very similar to the last injury in where Gregg landed a heavy, wide body shot and the muscle or tendon could not withstand the impact.    The bicep tears away from the inside of your elbow (crook of your arm or ditch in the tattoo world) and it will ball up into the shoulder.  Which is pretty fuckin gnarly the first time you see it.

It was safe to say that sparring was over for the day and Anthony and I finished up some pad work while Gregg called and made an appointment for surgery.   This was of course after I annoyingly asked a hundred times if there was anything I could do and does he need anything etc.  You know the typical over compensation of a concerned onlooker who just watched someone else risk a major part of their livelihood and career over what amounts to what is more or less a very involved hobby.  Check out the picture of the aftermath above.  Crazy shit.

Thursday 9/18: We decided today would be a strategy day where we will watch tape and discuss tendencies.   Because I’m not a complete idiot, I won’t give too much away and therefore I will only say this:  Rivera has a lot of habits and tendencies that we have taken note of.

Things are improving smoothly and the beginning portion of the camp has gone off without a hitch (knocking on something wooden).  Our timing is syncing up and his hand speed is improving daily. Check it out in the video above.

It’s only week 3,  6 more to go bros.  

Follow me on Instagram if you're bored. 

Top Tier Photo Shoot And Video:

                             Top Tier Photo Shoot And Video

You may remember me telling you about a new gym opening up in the Pittsburgh area a few weeks back.   We held a photo shoot for the gym's opening and the results were pretty awesome. A good day was had by all and even yours truly spent some time getting punched in the face by some of the area's local savages.  Top Tier is officially open for business and accepting new members every day.   

If you are interested in signing up, you can do so by calling (412) 925-0661 and/ or liking their Facebook page.

Video courtesy of Sam Rashada and

Check out some photos courtesy of Shawn Eisler after the jump:

2014 Western Pa Grappling Championships 10/25/2014

It's that time of year again bros.

The Keystone Oaks grappling tournament hosted by Steel City martial arts is set to go down October 25th and pre-registration starts now.  

You can save some money by pre-registering here

Below is an official message from the powers that be:

2014 WPa Bjj Gi & No-gi Grappling Championship. We are looking forward to another successful competition that displays the finest grapplers that this area has to showcase. We are constantly striving to improve your experience when you come to our event. In past years a few competitors expressed that they would appreciate an expedited event for the children and teens. In response to that request we have decided that any competitor under the age of 18, will only be able to compete if they are pre-registered, on- line only by the October 19th cut-off date. Children/teens will not be permitted to register at Steel City Martial Arts the evening before or at the Venue, the day of the event. This will allow us to have this group organized, bracketed and ready to compete first. Gi and no-gi children and teens divisions will be the first group of competitors to to enter the mats. Please inform anyone on your team or at your academy who may benefit from this information.

Adults can continue to register online until the cut-off date and take advantage of the on-line pre-registration discount. The cut off date for pre-registrations this year will be midnight October 19th, 2014. After this time pre-registration will close for everyone. Adults only will be able to register the night before the event at Steel City Martial Arts, 3842 Library Road, Castle Shannon Pa 15234, or register the morning of the event at the venue, Keystone Oaks High School. If you choose to register the night before or the day of the event you will be required to pay the full price, cash only. Please remember, only the first 150 pre-registrants receive a free event T-shirt.

Check out the weight classes and other "stuff" after the jump: