Thrilla at the Villa
Detailed Results Report
By Antonio Cooper
Donofrio Entertainment and the Impact Fight League once again held their sixth annual “Thrilla at the Villa” event, taking place inside of the Villa Penna restaurant. Featuring some of the top talents within Michigan, this charity event was scheduled for ten bouts, two title fights, several blind auctions and a host of other donated items that would keep the fans peaking with excitement throughout the night all of which was set to defeat Multiple Sclerosis by the end of the night.
For an estimate of progress for both the event and groups involved in defeating M.S, significant progress has been made in the past 10 years, having raised over $700,000.00 for Multiple Sclerosis as well as an additional $100,000.00 for local charities. Donofrio and company have always excelled within these events, but this “Thrilla at the Villa” excelled in every way imaginable and more.
What would ensue throughout the night can only be described as phenomenal as fans and fighters alike soon experience an event like no other. With each fighter performing at their highest level, while each auction would sell for most times triple their original value, the result was Donofrio Entertainment and partners alike dominating M.S, making the charity event more than a success, but an experience for those in attendance.
The night was not all charitable donations, as all eighteen fighters came together to put on a night of fights that would have stood out within a regular night of fights or a charity show. Providing a host of finishes and flashy moments, to simply call this event amazing would have been an understatement when describing what occurred throughout this experience of an event.
Beginning the night were two newcomers as Hillsdale MMA product, Jeremy Brigman (2-0) took on Cooper gym’s own, Tony Meredith (0-1) in a fight that would eventually set the pace for the remainder of the night. With the two light-heavies coming out and swinging for the finish, the first round would showcase the blistering pace usually designed for a lightweight bout. While a finish was expected from the two prospects, no one would expect what kind of finish would occur. Having Brigman pounce on the rookie from the opening bell, the fight would be all Brigman; who would out strike, outmaneuver and eventually finish the fight with a guillotine choke.
While the finish was impressive, it certainly wouldn’t be the last finish of the night, as seven finishes would take place within the nine fights on the card. The second finish wouldn’t take long either; having watched his teammate perform, fellow Madmen fighter, Brandon Oliver (5-0) would go out and seemingly duplicate his teammate’s performance. Taking on Detroit native Jimmy Wincenciak (0-1) it would only take Oliver a little less than two minutes to end his fight. Locking on an airtight standing guillotine choke, the Madmen encore performance was much to the fans delight.
While Madmen MMA held the most fighters throughout the card, having a total of six fighters participate throughout the night. There was a plethora of fight teams to compete throughout the night, each captivating the mind of the audience with every stoppage that occurred.
Whether it was the show stopping performance of John Birdsong (4-2) of the Iron Fist Clan, who cruised his way to a decision victory or the impressive-yet-dominant performance of newcomer Tyler Britton (1-0) who rallied behind his Madmen MMA teammates to deliver an fascinating 20 second victory over Joe Biondo (1-2). Amazing performances were plenty throughout the night.
Although every fighter had their moment to standout, one fighter captured the attention of everyone around. This was the case as Detroit native Serge “Silent Assassin” Laville (1-0) took on Kyle Wiggins (0-1) in a fight where the offensively gifted Laville would dominate throughout the bout. Leading to a second-round submission for the Dimitri Paul trained fighter.
Confidence beamed from the Detroit native who had much to say about his opponent, stating “I knew I had it soon as I looked at him.” Said Laville. “When I walked in here, he wouldn’t look me in the eyes so I knew I already had it.”
While the two of the fights were set for championship bouts, neither one would disappoint, as the first championship bout featured the physically imposing Malik Gibson (5-1) grabbing a submission victory against Donald Brandell (17-16) in a fight that featured both fighters facing their fair-share of trouble.
Having Gibson open strong with a takedown “Zulu” would dominate Brandell early with devastating strikes before Brandell would counter with an almost fight-ending arm-triangle choke. Although Gibson would escape the submission, both fighters agreed the choke was only moments away from ending the fight.
“I heard him choking, he was almost out.” Said Brandell, while Gibson would later agree stating “I was fading a little, that choke almost had me.”
Following the choke the rest of the fight would be all Gibson, as the “Cooper’s Gym” product would posture and dominate Brandell with powerful strikes. With less than two minutes remaining within the round, Gibson would lock-in a fight-ending rear naked choke, becoming the new Welterweight champion.
Gibson had much to say following his victory, stating. “He didn’t like getting hit, I noticed that early. He panicked.” Gibson continued “It feels good to have this belt, I’ve been at it for a long time.”
While fights were enjoyable and quick paced, the outside entertainment of the Thrilla at the Villa provided equal entertainment. There were many moments to captivate this experience, such as the donation of $50,000 to the president of the Michigan M.S society or the surprisingly competitive silent cigar silent auction. The final result provided key reason to believe that the outside entertainment and fights inside the cage were equally entertaining throughout.
With only two fights remaining, one would feature a one sided title change, while the other would showcase the heart and experience of two fighters who would perhaps steal the show with a captivating performance.
Beginning with two undefeated fighters, Quinton Allen and Marco Smallman. Both of which would battle for the Light-Heavyweight title, the final result would showcase a one sided performance from Smallman, who would dominate Allen throughout the first round in its entirety. The end would soon follow as Allen would refuse to leave his corner following the first round, making “The Hybrid” the new middleweight champion (3-0). With the Battaglia trained fighter winning his new championship, his demeanor came across as grateful rather than happy that he in-fact won.
“I felt a little shaky at first, but after I got my groove just went out there.” Saud Smallman, he continued. “This is the first title I’ve ever fought for. With me and my current record, this is kind of a once in a lifetime thing for me, I’ve only been doing this for nine months now.”
While Smallman had the victory well in-tact, he considered the fight more of a chance rather than an obstacle. “I got the call and this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”
With one fight remaining, the key thought on everyone’s mind was simple “Can the final fight deliver?” which was more than answered as Mario Aguilar (30-9) took on fellow veteran Keith Bullock (21-15) in a fight that featured the two eager to put on the best performance of the night. The amazing performance began with both fighters yelling at one another before the fight could even begin, creating a undeniable buzz that stood throughout the arena.
What would follow was a war that would end in a fifth round war, the single round both fighters would need in order to grab the victory. In the end, it would be the Dimitri Paul trained fighter, who would pick up the victory over Bullock in impressive fashion.
“It was a tough fight and it really coulda went either way.” Said Aguilar “I knew I was behind and I knew I needed the fifth round in order to win.” Aguilar, although ecstatic about his victory, admits he’s not thinking about heeling.
“As soon as the wind come back and I catch my breath, I’ll be ready to fight again.”
This was without question an amazing event that featured back and forth action, with several trophies handed out, one watch from Lucido’s fine Jewelry and a number of other items. Once again the “Thrilla at the Villa” was no longer an event for fighters, but simply an experience for everyone.
Jerry Brigman Def. Tony Meredith (Submission)
Brandon Oliver Def. Jimmy Wincenciak (Submission)
Serge Laville Def. Kyle Wiggins (Submission)
John Birdsong Def. Nate Kurtkowski (Decision)
Tyler Britton Def. Joe Biondo (Submission)
Marco Smallman Def. Quinton Allen (Corner Stoppage)
Malik Gibson Def. Donald Brandell (Submission)
Mario Aguilar Def. Keith Bullock (decision)