Rematches in amateur MMA are not the norm, and even rarer is the third rubber match. But Legends MMA’s Chris Brady and Xtreme Couture’s Jimmy Jones seem to be destined to write history as one of Tuff-N-Uff’s more storied rivalries, as their most recent bout, on August 22nd, ended more in controversy than in decisive conclusion.
The latest chapter, which took place at Tuff-N-Uff’s home base, the Orleans Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, was a rematch for the Tuff-N-Uff 135 lb. title, which Jones won via second-round submission in April. The bout delivered more than its fair share of back-and-forth action before Brady, from the bottom position, threw an upkick that instantly knocked out Jones, who was positioned somewhere within Brady’s guard.
“The minute that I saw his hips go forward and I felt like his knees were off the ground, I threw a kick. I felt like he was over me. You can’t get over somebody with your knees on the ground. . . I didn’t feel like his knee was on the ground,” Brady recalled after the match.
“All I remember is being on top and being so tired. . . I could hear my coaches telling me ‘punch, punch. Body, head. Body, head.’ And the next thing I remember is waking up and doctors telling me I was knocked out,” said Jones in an interview several weeks after the fight.
However, as Brady, his cornermen, and the estimated crowd of 3,000 celebrated the apparent title change, within the ring, the controversy started to unfold. Referee Jason Trevino was motioning for a time-out right after waving off the match. Doctors were quick to administer oxygen to Jones, who was out cold, but then revived without complication. As cornermen and Tuff-N-Uff officials entered the ring, Trevino explained that he was ruling the kick illegal, due to Jones’ knees touching the mat when the kick made contact, thus awarding the match to Jones by disqualification.
Nothing could have taken the wind out of Brady’s sails faster. “After I got done, jumping on the ropes and everything, the referee came over to me and said his knee was down. And I was like ‘fuck. Great. I was this close to winning this fight and I just fucked it up’ . . . The greatest feeling and then the worst feeling in the world,” he remembered.
Naturally, Legends MMA head trainer Chris Reilly was quick to raise issue with the call, explaining “during that time, there was discussion between myself, the promoters, and the ISKA officials as to whether or not the right call was being made. The television technician cued it up; we watched it on replay several times. Four or five guys there, you have it pretty much an even split on opinions. . . The camera angle wasn’t perfect. Really you have to freeze frame and see right at the point of landing, are the knees up or are they down?”
“The referee has a job to do his best to call them as he sees them and to make the fair calls. We don’t want illegal blows to go unpenalized. . . But my thing is this: if you’re standing up to throw a punch, what causes you to drop back down to your knees immediately, other than the blow? Which is why I was hesitant to accept the call. In my opinion, it was a legitimate strike,” Reilly added.
“I know Chris is a good guy, and he’s a friend of mine now. I know he didn’t want to win like that, and I didn’t want to win like that either. Rather, he didn’t want to lose like that. Chris came over. . . He was more upset about how hurt I was, rather than him losing the fight, which I thought was pretty cool on his part. I apologized to him also . . . that they wouldn’t let me finish the fight. . . Third fight in that little series there, for the belt, ends in disqualification. I wasn’t too happy with that,” said Jones.
As if this wasn’t controversy enough, what happened next simultaneously threw even more confusion into the mix, as well as exemplified a high-water mark in MMA sportsmanship.
After ring announcer Jake Gutierrez explained the situation to the fans and declared Jones the winner by disqualification, Jones handed Brady the Tuff-N-Uff 135 lb. title belt.
“Actually, I’ve been getting a lot of credit for what I did, handing Chris the belt, but I don’t want to take full credit, because Barry was the one that put the idea in my head. Because I had walked out with the belt that I won in the previous fight, but Barry had brought out a new belt for me,” explained Jones. “The only thing about title fights is that one guy walks out with the belt and the other guy leaves with nothing, not even a metal. . . And after a hard-fought battle like that, I figured Chris deserved something to walk out with, so I decided to give him the belt.”
Later that night, Brady simply said “I didn’t expect him to do that.”
Looking back on the saga that Brady and Jones’ careers seem to be co-writing, the Legends fighter reflected: “Me and Jimmy fought three times, and in my opinion, he’s one of the toughest guys that I’ve fought. . . We respect each other, and he’s a class act. You can’t get in the ring with somebody and go toe-to-toe, and walk out of there not respecting the person. There’s something wrong if you can’t do that.”
Where this leaves the Tuff-N-Uff 135 lb. title is still undecided. As of this article, neither Tuff-N-Uff nor ISKA official Cory Schaffer, the sanctioning official who presided over the event, had yet to announce their review or a final ruling. Nor have they confirmed whether Jones’ handing the belt to Brady constituted any kind of relinquishment or title change. Both Brady and Jones have title belts in their possession. If anything, the one conclusion that all parties seem to concur on is the likelihood of a fourth meeting between the two young fighters.
“It was kinda hard because I wanted that recognition to the crowd, and put a stamp on it. And now it’s kinda in limbo. It’s like ‘are we gonna fight again?’ . . . And that’s the reason why I said ‘let’s do it again. Four. Really, if that’s what y’all think, that I didn’t win that fight’ . . . and I feel like he’d do the same for me. We’ll see where it goes from here.”
When asked about a potential fourth chapter, Jones enthusiastically said “man, I’ll fight Chris as many times as they’ll have me. . . We both know, when we come out to fight each other. . . we’re just trying to put on a show for the fans, as well as put on our best performances ourselves.”
“I think Brady has every right to consider himself the champion, regardless of how this goes down. . . It’s been a great legacy for Tuff-N-Uff, and for Legends vs. Xtreme Couture, which are all fun, cool, good stuff,” concluded Reilly.
The other notable story of the night was Eddie Bravo’s 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu sending up two fighters, Andrew Lunt (135 lbs.) and Sean Bollinger (155 lbs.), to compete. This was only 10th Planet’s second trip to Tuff-N-Uff, as student Shigeki Matsuda had previously competed in Tuff-N-Uff’s Open Invitational in late May.
Welterweights Takashi Munoz and Eddie Jackson also returned to Tuff-N-Uff action, after several months off. Munoz, whose last match was a first round KO victory in March, faced Dustin Chevalier of Striking Unlimited. Jackson, who has been chomping at the bit to redeem himself from suffering a first round KO in April, came back in dominant fashion, claiming a TKO win over King Scott of the Marc Laimon’s renowned Cobra Kai Jiu-Jitsu.
135 lbs. – Andrew Lunt (10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu) vs. Maurice Senters (Striking Unlimited)
This was one of two opening rounds in a four-man elimination tournament to determine the next challenger for the disputed Tuff-N-Uff 135 lb. title. Lunt, who goes to school in Florida and normally trains with American Top Team in Coconut Creek, FL, is a cousin of 10th Planet instructor Scottie “Einstein” Epstein, who was on hand to corner 10th Planet and Legends MMA fighters for the evening. As such, Lunt committed to fight on Tuff-N-Uff when a spot opened up.
Lunt was impressive in the first round, circling patiently before throwing a Superman punch, followed by a hard left that dropped Senters fast. Senters recovered and pushed Lunt to the ropes, but Lunt slapped on a guillotine choke and held it to the ground, keeping it even after a referee’s reposition. Perhaps sensing the need to avenge the first round, Senters charged towards Lunt in the opening seconds of the second, but Lunt pushed the fight back to the center. Senters caught Lunt’s leg off a kick and pushed him to the ground. The fight was soon back on the feet, with Senters landing a knee before the end of the round. Round three opened with a slugfest, as, clearly, both men wanted to secure a win. Lunt came alive with flurries, but Senters pushed the striking, getting him to the ground. Senters tried to finish by throwing rights from standing position before being stood up. Lunt didn’t have much gas in the tank by this point, throwing a desperate overhand left and a spinning back kick that didn’t come close.
Judges awarded the match to Maurice Senters by unanimous decision.
After the match, Epstein commented “I think it would have went differently if the first round didn’t go so well [for Lunt]. Andrew dropped the kid in the first round, and then his confidence went up. And so did everyone else’s. You’re like ‘fuck that. Knock this dude out. You beat him standing’. . . But anyone else might have made the same mistake too. You hit a guy and he drops, you’re like ‘sweet. Alright, I’ll beat this guy at his own game.’
155 lbs. – Sean Bollinger (10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu) vs. Azamat Umarzoda (Throwdown Elite Training Center)
This was one of two opening rounds in a four-man elimination tournament to determine the next challenger for the Tuff-N-Uff 155 lb. title. It was also Bollinger’s second MMA match. Bollinger and Umarzoda clashed right away. Bollinger either slipped or was knocked down, but Umarzoda let him back up. Bollinger reignited on his feet with a right head kick. Umarzoda landed a spinning back kick of his own, but it wasn’t enough to drop the Eddie Bravo protégé, who then stunned Umarzoda. Bollinger followed his opponent to the ground, ground-and-pounding from full mount. As soon as Umarzoda gave up his arm, Bollinger swiveled around for the armbar, until referee Jason Trevino stopped the match at 1:38 of the second round.
Bollinger was declared the winner by submission.
“Sean looked great. . . When Sean felt he was at a disadvantage, he went to what he had the best advantage with,” Epstein said flatly.
175 lbs. – Eddie Jackson (Legends MMA) vs. King Scott (Cobra Kai)
Jackson made a point to use the opening moments of the match to feel out Scott’s pace, footwork, and combinations. Scott swung fast, following up with a takedown attempt, but Jackson deftly stuffed the shot. This didn’t stop Scott from pushing forward, almost forcing Jackson through the ropes and out of the ring. In fact, Jackson did fall through, but prevented going further by sitting down on the outside ring apron. After a referee’s warning for holding the ropes and a restart, Jackson held out, then attacked with a flurry. A left uppercut dropped Scott to the ground, which was window enough for Jackson to pounce with follow up shots before the ref ended the match at 0:47 seconds off the first round.
Jackson was declared the winner by TKO.
“I’m not gonna lie – I was a little traumatized. . . It wasn’t like a comfortable feeling I was used to going in. I remembered the last time I was here. . . And I had to just tell myself ‘you know what? It was no big deal. Do what I do’. . . I think after he tried to take me down, that’s when everything snapped out. I’m like ‘okay, you know what? Now it’s my turn’,” recollected Jackson, who was anxious to shake off the last vestiges of his previous Tuff-N-Uff appearance.
170 lbs. – Takashi Munoz (Legends MMA) vs. Dustin Chevalier (Striking Unlimited)
Chevalier fired the opening salvos in the first round, but Munoz came back with a right that dropped him. They both survive the initial onslaught and clinch against the ropes. Chevalier spins Munoz around and gets Munoz to the ground, taking side mount. Munoz shifts over and eventually escapes to his feet. Chevalier misses a high kick, but stuns Munoz with a body shot. Munoz recovers, but takes knees to the body in Chevalier’s corner. Round two opens with more fisticuffs until Chevalier slips. Munoz doesn’t capitalize on the slip, giving Chevalier the chance to get back to his feet and shoot from afar, but Munoz steps aside like a matador. Chevalier shoots again and clinches Munoz against the ropes, throwing knees. Chevalier shoots again, but Munoz stuffs the shot, going into Chevalier’s closed guard. After a stand-up, Munoz lands a right body kick, and the two trade combos to the round’s end.
The third round saw Munoz almost score a takedown and end up in top position off a clinch, but Munoz chose to keep it standing. Munoz slipped off his own high kick, giving Chevalier the chance to get into Munoz’ half-guard. Chevalier lands some lefts to the head before referee Jason Trevino ordered a stand-up. Munoz came close to dropping Chevalier with a right, but didn’t go in for the kill. Overhand right, left body kick combo by Munoz. He attempted a judo throw, but got tangled in the ropes just before the bell rang.
Judges awarded Dustin Chevalier the win by unanimous decision.
Of the outcome of Munoz’ match, teammate Jackson was particularly outspoken, stating “it should not have been a unanimous decision. Definitely not unanimous. I agree [Munoz] got taken down. . . . And there were times when he rocked the dude 3-4 times. And I know you gotta give some kind of points or credit for that.”
“If you let it go to the judges’ scorecards, you have to accept the subjective nature of a fight. . . Takashi’s a big boy, and he’s a soldier. And he’s also a young fighter who’s got a lot of growing to do, and he’ll have a lot of experience. I think everybody knows he’s really, really talented,” added Reilly.
Tuff-N-Uff 135 Lbs. Title Match - Chris Brady (Legends MMA) vs. Jimmy Jones (Xtreme Couture)
The story of the first round was Brady circling about and striking from different angles while Jones kept the pressure on with his reach. Jones pushed the action early, reaching for a takedown and later forcing Brady against the ropes off a high kick and two-punch combo. Brady tried to slip in a guillotine before Jones broke away with uppercuts. Brady knocked Jones down, but elected to keep the fight standing, throwing a high kick and flurries as he circled. Jones worked to bridge the gap with kicks and an overhand right. Towards the end, Jones took Brady down by catching his right foot and bouncing off the ropes to the ground, but stood up within guard, presumably to rain down punches, giving Brady just enough room to escape to his feet. Jones tried to trip him back down, but Brady spun out and away to keep it standing.
The chase continued in round two, as Jones used jabbing combos and kicks to connect. Brady again pushed Jones down off a kick, but referee Jason Trevino called for a stand up. Jones caught Brady’s right leg and charged for the takedown, pushing Brady out of the ring. After a restart in the middle, Brady fired a combo. Jones got Brady to the ground again, and eventually took his back, but it wasn’t long before Brady escaped and brought it to standing again. Brady tripped Jones with a low kick and quickly followed it up with another combo that resulted in Brady in Jones’ guard. Jones worked for an armbar and triangle, but Brady escaped before the end of the round.
The third and final round opened with a heartfelt show of respect, quickly to fisticuffs. Both men were careful to engage, although Jones forced a double-leg takedown. Brady pushed him off and was able to escape. Brady connected with an overhand right, while Jones continued to chase with low kicks, an overhand right, and a trip that dropped Brady briefly. Standing, the two started trading combos with greater fury before Jones got another takedown. But Brady kept a tight hold of Jones and largely prevented any assault from top position. Jones continued to shift knees to fire punches. Finally, in what no known video has been able to clearly depict, Brady hit an upkick on Jones, knocking him out completely. At that point, referee Trevino stepped in to end the match.
Brady was disqualified for an illegal strike, resulting in Jimmy Jones as the declared winner and reigning Tuff-N-Uff 135 lb. champion.
In other Tuff-N-Uff action that night:
155 lbs. – Casey Miliken (Warrior) defeated Taylor Pausewang (Solidarity MMA) by TKO, in R3, 0:40 sec.
150 lbs. – Cameron Ramirez (Want Fight Team) defeated Chris Yang (Valhalla ETC) by KO in R1, 1:53 sec.
145 lbs. – Roman Isbell (Striking Unlimited) defeated Chester Cullen (Cobra Kai) by split decision.
170 lbs. – Stephen Tobias (Team Quest) defeated Michael Martinez (independent) by TKO / referee stoppage due to cut after R1.
205 lbs. – Matt Painter (The Dojo) defeated Josh Bannister (independent) by TKO in R1, 0:44 sec.
135 lbs. – Jerry Shapiro (Cobra Kai) defeated Corey Jeffers (Xtreme Couture) by submission (armbar) in R2, 1:38 sec.
135 lbs. – Maurice Senters (Striking Unlimited) defeated Andrew Lunt (10th Planet / American Top Team) by unanimous decision.
Shapiro and Senters face each other in the next round of the 135 lb. tournament.
155 lbs. – Sean Bollinger (10th Planet) defeated Azamat Umarzoda (Throwdown Elite Training Center) by submission (armbar) in R1, 1:38 sec.
155 lbs. – Rob Anderson (Warrior) defeated Joe Tussing (Striking Unlimited) by unanimous decision.
Bollinger and Anderson face each other in the next round of the 155 lb. tournament.
155 lbs. – Gil Guardo (Xtreme Couture) defeated Linden Allen (Freestyle) by submission due to strikes in R1, 1:10 sec.
185 lbs. – Matt Polly (Xtreme Couture) defeated David Cexton (Nellis Air Force Base) by TKO / doctor’s stoppage after R2.
205 lbs. – Josh Peasly (Xtreme Couture) defeated Jason Walraven (Stevenson Cobra Kai) by split decision.
145 lbs. – Chris Holdsworth (Cobra Kai) defeated Justin Linn (Tapout R&D) by submission (triangle choke) in R1, 1:58 sec.
155 lbs. – Ryan Couture (Xtreme Couture) defeated Jimmy Spicuzza (Excel Defense / Team Mica) by submission (armbar) in R1, 1:22 sec.
Tuff-N-Uff returns to the Orleans Casino & Hotel on September 18th. Matches for 10th Planet fighters will be announced shortly. Legends MMA expects to next compete at Tuff-N-Uff on October 24th.
Legends MMA was sponsored by Black Van Industries.