AUBURN HILLS — At the Impact Fight League’s St. Valentines Day Massacre professional mixed martial arts show last Friday at the Palace of Auburn Hills, five fighters on the 14- bout card had Mash Gym head instructor Don Richard in their corner, a Davison grad with a pro resume that includes facing current Ultimate Fighting Championships lightheavyweight Brandon Vera and former heavyweight champion Dan ‘The Beast’ Severn.
“I expect we’re going to do real well and hopefully we’ll go undefeated tonight. That’s the goal, and the guys have trained hard,” said Richard just before walking out with Todd ‘The Detroit Bad Boy’ Allee for the third bout of the night against Aaron ‘Grown Man’ Ware, which was originally ruled a draw but later changed to a majority decision for Allee because of a scoring error. “I fought in the first pro event here in Michigan (at the Palace last year) and its nice to have a fight here locally. It’s a big event and a good chance for these young guys as new proffesionals to get some experience in front of a big crowd. This is a bigger arena, so it will prepare them for bigger shows down the road.”
Also training under Richard for this event was Jason ‘The Finisher’ Fischer, who knocked out Andy ‘The Silent Assasin’ Peterson 12 seconds into the second round, a feat teammate Corey O’Dell only needed one round against David Savare to emulate. Not all of Richard’s protégé’s had such overwhelmingly positive results though, including Jason ‘The Beast’ Davis, whose match with Ryan Scheeper was ruled a no-contest and stopped in round one because of illegal blows to the back of his head. That just left Victor ‘El Torito’ Torres, who took a fair amount of punishment before getting submitted by rear naked choke at 3:01 of the first round by Josh ‘Super Saiyan’ Taveirne. Torres was Mash Gym’s highest-placed fighter on the card in bout number 12.
As a long time professional mixed martial artists himself with organizations including King of the Cage and Next Level Fighting, Richard recently moved to Farmington Hills to teach Brazilian jiu jitsu, muay thai kickboxing and MMA in Redford full time, allowing the former Cardinals’ varsity wrestler to retire from his job with an electrical contractor. Currently, he’s 36, and has a career record of 11-9-1.
“It’s great, a dream come true. I worked really hard to get to this point and I’m finally able to make my living doing what I love, so it’s not like I work every day,” Richard said. “I might have one (pro fight) left in me, but right now I’m battling some injuries, as I always have during my career. I have a bad hand injury and it might keep me out of the ring. I’d like to get back in there one more time and retire properly.”
With World Extreme Cagefighting veteran Brandon ‘The Caucasian Devastation’ Seguine defending his IFL middleweight title belt in the main event with a first round TKO of former Elite XC and Bellator 185-pounder Hector ‘El Toro’ Urbina, other results included Mansfield, Ohio, native Cody ‘The Wolverine’ Stevens submitting Tito Jones via triangle choke at a catchweight of 140 lbs.
“It was a little tricky with the dieting and preparation, but I have years of experience dating back to high school wrestling that gave me a base to work from,” said Stevens at last Thursday’s weigh-in at Bar Louie’s at the Great Lakes Crossing Mall in Auburn Hills as he begrudgingly sat in front of a buffet he was unable to enjoy while waiting for his turn on the scale. “I’m excited. I’ve had 12 weeks of preparation going into this fight. This is my life. This is what I do. I’ve made a lot of sacrifices for this and I’m anxious to get in there and put on a show for everyone in the Detroit area.”
Also lighting up the night was Dexter’s Josh Burns, who trains with current UFC lightheavyweight Mark Coleman and won the evenings opening bout with a TKO of Jeff Kugel at 2:52 of the first round.