Monthly Archives: April 2015

Randa Markos – ‘Quiet Storm’ making waves in the strawweight division

Note: This is a short piece I wrote for MMA Latest news

Prospect Randa Markos was one of the dark horses going into “The Ultimate Fighter 20” back in 2014, yet the “Quiet Storm” continues to turn heads and make waves when she steps inside of the octagon.

Markos (5-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC) is coming off an impressive performance against Irish veteran and fellow “TUF” castmate Aisling Daly at UFC 186. The Quiet Storm earned the judges’ decision to get her first win in the octagon.

During the fight, Markos showed improved conditioning and strength. She landed some strikes in the opening round and displayed good takedown until the end of the first stanza. Despite Daly locking her in a clinch, Markos battled back to win the fight.

In an interview with Sportsnet, Markos credited her recent success to Michigan Top Team for helping her sharpen her skills, as well as the support from Daron Cruickshank.

Just having him in my corner, just gives me more motivation. He knows what he’s doing, he knows what he’s talking about. I work with him every day at Michigan Top Team.

Something else that’s helped Markos with her success is adding CrossFit to her training regiment.

Markos made a big impact on “TUF” after defeating Tecia Torres and Felice Herrig to advance to the semifinals of the tournament before being eliminated by Rose Namajunas. She dropped a close split-decision to former Invicta FC atomweight title Jessica Penne in her official octagon debut.

In the interview, Markos said she wants to compete in MMA as much as she can and her win over Daly is the first step of her ascent up the women’s 115-pound ladder.

The Quiet Storm has already showed her meddle against tough prospects like Torres, as well as established veterans like Herrig. Although those wins weren’t officially sanctioned bouts and didn’t add two wins to her record, Markos earned the experience of facing two of the most dangerous and technical strikers in the strawweight division.

Markos also has an inspiring story and like many fighters, had a humble beginnings. When she was three years old, her family moved to Canada from Iraq during the Gulf Crisis. She later turned to wrestling, which was the initial spark of her future MMA career.

As for the immediate future, I’d like to see Markos take on Maryna Moroz, who is coming off an impressive win over Joanne Calderwood or veteran Angela Magana.

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Veronica Rothenhausler is making the right decision in retiring


Veronica Rothenhausler vs. Ashlee Evans-Smith

It’s sometimes bittersweet when a beloved MMA fighter retires, even if it’s someone who was just starting their career.

Team Alpha Male Veronica “The Heartbreaker” Rothenhausler announced her retirement on social media. She said she suffered a concussion in her fight against Charmaine Tweet – her fifth one overall – and is still “dealing with the aftermath.”

Rothenhausler first entered the MMA scene back in 2011, racking up an impressive 3-0 amateur record that included two five-second knockouts over Ashlee Evans-Smith and Noelle Cherry.

The Heartbreaker made her professional debut in 2013 at Invicta FC 4, knocking out Katalina Malungahu in 72 seconds. Her last fight was in late 2014, losing to Tweet via TKO late in the first round.

Rothenhausler’s decision to retire wasn’t because she lost a few fights, got upset and quit. She’s looking out for her health and in an age where concussions and head trauma are a major issue, not only in combat sports, but in football as well.

Rothenhausler’s announcement kind of reminds me of San Francisco 49er linebacker Chris Borland, who retired from professional football after one season. Like Rothenhausler, Borland’s decision to leave behind the gridiron was because of health concerns.

And like the situation with Borland, I’ll say that Rothenhausler is making the right decision in retiring. Sure we fans will miss her and wonder what her career would have been like – and she might wonder that herself – but I’m sure she’ll also be thankful that she didn’t compete longer than she should have and watch as her health deteriorates over time.

So I would like to take this opportunity to wish Rothenhausler the best in her future and I hope she succeeds and is happy wherever life takes her.

Pikachus drop series against Dileep

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The Philly Pikachus fantasy baseball team dropped another series this past week, winning only 3 of 6 games against Dileep kumar’s team.

The Pikachus struggled to get their bats going, having only 30 runs, 23 RBIs and six home runs. Starling Marte led the lineup with six runs, four RBIs and two home runs. Mike Trout scored six runs, two RBIs and a homer.

On the mound, only Santiago Casilla picked up two wins. Jon Lester led the Pikachus with 10 strikeouts, followed by Scott Kazmir with seven.

The team will have to do some minor rotation in their lineup as Ben Zobrist is scheduled to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left knee while Hisashi Iwakuma continues to nurse a right lat strain. Iwakuma has done some very light throwing as well as strengthening exercises in recent days.

Despite the loss, the Pikachus are sitting comfortably in sixth place. They play 10th-ranked Jason K’s Crazy Team.

Interview: Fernando Gonzalez discusses upcoming Bellator 137 bout

Journeyman Fernando “The Menifee Maniac” Gonzalez (23-13 MMA, 3-0 Bellator) has been on a hot streak since he stepped into the Bellator cage, defeating Karl Amoussou, Karo Parysian and former Dream welterweight champion Marius Zaromskis. Now the seasoned veteran takes on prospect Curtis Millender on the main card of Bellator 137, May 15 at Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, Calif.

Gonzalez, who made his MMA debut back in 2003 and has fought in various regional and top promotions, took some time out of his Friday training schedule to talk to MMA Latest’s Al Stover about his bout with Millender.

Fernando Gonzalez: How’s it going Al?

Al Stover: Good Fernando, how are you doing?

FG: I’m good.

AS: Right on. It’s a good weekend for sports overall, mostly combat sports. You have a big fight coming up at Bellator 137 against Curtis Millender. How is camp going for you?

FG: It’s going great. I’m training hard and working on all the things I need to get done before the fight in order to get the victory.

AS: You’re going for your fourth victory. I did a little bit of research, and you’ve fought regionally and in some big promotions. You’ve for in WEC and Strikeforce. What was it like making the transition to Bellator? Not to say that Strikeforce wasn’t big but Bellator is kind of “the show.”

FG: The difference between making the debut for Bellator and for Strikeforce is that for Stirkeforce I took that fight (against Eddie Mendez) on two weeks notice. For Bellator I’ve more time to train for fights and the competition is big. It makes me train harder, not just the opponents that are in front of me but for the ones that will come in the future. I’m always training hard and I’m training my butt off to get better every day.

AS: That’s good to hear. Your last fight was against Marius Zaromskis. He was a world champion in Dream and a tough guy. You’ve got Millender coming up. Are you making any specific adjustments to your fight camp to prepare for him or is it just business are usual?

FG: I try to train for everything. You never know what’s going to happen in a fight. It could be going my way, it could not be going my way. So whatever happens. If it goes to the ground, I’m training to get back up and get into a better position. If I keep it standing I’ll train to avoid his big shots and make sure I’m countering, catching and doing what I need to do to knock him out. He may get injured — I pray not — and my opponent changes. I just try to prepare myself for any scenario.

AS: The injury comes up for any event. You’re going to be in California — your home state — it’s going to be close to home for you.

FG: Oh yeah. I train at Dan Henderson’s Athletic Fitness Center, which is 10 minutes away from the Pechanga Resort and Casino. I grew up in the area and I have a lot of family and friends who came out and support it. It’s great. I love being able to fight for Bellator and being able to compete against some of the best guys in the world and they’re bringing them here to my home. It makes it easier for me. I get to train and sleep in my own bed and enjoy every moment. The talk leading up to the fight pumps me up.

AS: Yeah. They’re coming to your house, your domain if you will. You’ve got a milage on you — in a good way. Over the years, what changes have you noticed in mixed martial arts?

FG: The sport is still evolving in a lot of ways. Primarily the style is one thing. Before you had fighters who were good in jiu-jitsu, kickboxing or wrestling. In the last couple of years you’ve had guys putting everything together like how to throw strikes while doing a takedown. That type of game is a lot more tiring but it’s a lot more fun. If you don’t know what you’re doing you’re going to get hurt. It’ going quick. A lot of guys are getting good really fast.

AS: Do you find yourself mentoring younger fighters or giving them advice? Do they come to you?

FG: I have my own school and work with my own guys. I try to help them out with things that bothered me when I was just starting my career. One of the biggest things that people have trouble with are the long layoffs. If you don’t stay busy then you’re not going to be comfortable. You can be the best fighter in the world but if you have anywhere from six months to a year off, you’re going to go into the cage with those nerves. That’s just part of it. The more consistent we stay, the more easier it comes and those nerves won’t be a big factor.

AS: Right. While you don’t want to look ahead and take your focus off of your opponent, where do you see yourself after this fight? Are you hoping for a title shot after this? Maybe after a couple of more wins.

FG: I don’t put that type of pressure on myself because if it doesn’t happen, then I’ll be disappointed. For me, my biggest goal was to make it to a big-name stage like Bellator and compete against these guys. There’s a saying that’s stuck with me over the years. “Just win ball games, the rest will take care of itself.” I apply that to my fighting. I’m just winning my fights. If I win my fights, everything else will take care of itself and the belt will be there when I need it to be there. Everything is kind of going the way I want it to be. Curtis Millender is a tough opponent and I don’t think he got to show the world what he could do in his last fight and I think that’s what he’s trying to do for this one. He’s going to try to make a statement when he faces me. It’s going to be one hell of a fight. I’m prepared for it. I’m pumped and ready to get my hands on him.

AS: Is there anyone you want to thank? Any shoutouts you want to give?

FG: I want to give a shout out to my team at Dan Henderson’s Athletic Fitness Center, they push me and get me ready for these fights. A lot of guys have been in here helping me. Clinch Gear and Boosters, who have been helping me with my gear and my chiropractor who has been helping me since fifth grade.

AS: Thank you Fernando. Good luck and have a great weekend.

Interview: Curtis Millender prepares for Fernando Gonzalez fight


Note: This is an interview I did with Bellator’s Curtis Millender for MMA Latest News

Although you never get a second chance to make a first impression, fighters who lost their promotional debut get an opportunity at redemption. Welterweight prospect Curtis “Curtious” Millender (7-1 MMA, 0-1 Bellator) will do just that when he faces seasoned veteran Fernando Gonzalez at Bellator 137, May 15, at Pechanga Resort and Casino at Temecula, Calif.

Millender lost his Bellator debut against Brennan Ward back in February. He was originally scheduled to fight British fighter Michael Page, who withdrew from the fight on short notice.

Millender took some time out of his schedule to speak with MMA Latest News’ Al Stover.

Al Stover: Hello Curtis how’s everything going?

Curtis Millender: I’m good how are you?

AS: I’m good, it’s the weekend. You have a big fight coming up against Fernando Gonzalez at Bellator 137. How’s camp going for you?

CM: Camp is going great. I feel like I’m in great shape and working on all of the things I need to work on and making sure that I have the tools I have are very sharp.

AS: I know some fighters don’t like to divulge training stuff before hand, but what are some of those tools you are fine tuning and sharpening.

CM: I’m just making sure my punches are crisp and that I’m not making the same mistakes as last time. I’m sharpening my angles and putting together my punches a little bit.

AS: Let’s go back a little bit. You’ve been fighting for a couple of years now. What got you interesting in pursuing mixed martial arts.

CM: I’ve been boxing and wrestling since I was a kid. Growing up watching wrestling, boxing and all of these combat sports. I knew it was something I wanted to do. I really just want to be the best in the world and fighting is what I am pursuing in being the best in the world in.

AS: Right on and when you say wrestling, were a fan of professional wrestling? Amateur? A little of both?

CM: Both. I was a huge WWE fan and still am.

AS: I am too. Some MMA fans they want to keep wrestling and mixed martial arts seperate but what I’ve noticed is a lot of fighters are big pro wrestling fans. You won your first seven fights. You got to make your Bellator debut. It didn’t quite go as planned but what was it like making to such a big stage so early in your career?

CM: It was a blessing and I took it as that I knew I had worked hard to get where I was. I’ve been a pro for two years but I’ve been boxing and wrestling since I was eight years old — almost 20 years. This is something I’ve been working my whole life for. I put the work in and I got a level to where I wanted to be faster than most, but that’s only because of my work ethic.

AS: Work ethic goes really far in anything, not just in athletics but life in general. Your Bellator debut had a chance in plans. You were supposed to fight Michael Page then fought Brennan Ward. Did the change force you to adjust your game plan too much?

CM: Not too much. I’m a professional. I’ve fought guys in my first seven fights with the same modus operandi. They want to take me down. I did underestimate Ward’s speed, not his hand speed but his foot speed. He’s explosive coming off the block, I kind of underestimated that. He caught me making a mistake and capitalized on it so my hat’s off to him. He was the better man that night but I’m going to keep winning these fights and hopefully get a shot back at him. Right now my focus is on Fernando Gonzalez.

AS: Some guys like to watch film on their opponents. Fernando has a lot of experience under his belt. Are you doing anything specific to prepare for him?

CM: I have guys that I train with that have a similar style as he does. I watch a lot of video and have done a lot of studying. You can’t always go off of what you see on video because the guys he’s fighting aren’t like me. It’s going to be an adjustment for the both of us. Come May 15, I’m gonna show why I have this contract, why I’m fighting for Bellator and I’m going to be one of the best in the world.

AS: Especially in a division that’s had a changing of the guard. Douglas Lima is the champion. You’ve talked about avenging your loss down the road but is there anyone else you have on the radar.

CM: I still want to fight Michael Page. That’s still on my mind. I would love to have him next after Fernando. But whatever Bellator gives me, I’m down for. Losing was one of the worst things I’ve felt and never want to feel that again. Good luck to everyone else in the division, they’re going to need it.

AS: I just remembered this. You’ve fought in a ring and in a cage. Some fighters like Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic and Fedor Emelianenko have talked about the difficult adjusting from fighting in a ring to a cage but what has been your experience? You’ve probably trained a lot in a cage though.

CM: There wasn’t much of a difference. I like to be in the center of the mat whether it’s in the cage or the ring. It doesn’t really bother me. Actually I prefer to fight in a cage. I have more room to move, I can circle more and I don’t have to back into a corner. I like it better.

AS: What are some of the things you’ve learned in the last couple of years.

CM: Just to stay humble and work hard. Those are things my coaches make sure I know. It can all go away in a moment. Stay humble, stay focused and move forward. Keep your eye on the prize. I have a family to take care of and I have to make sure that I’m doing the right thing and win these fights.

AS: You said you’re a huge fan of WWE. Many athletes go back and forth between MMA and professional wrestling. Any chance of seeing you in the squared circle down the road?

CM: That would be dope. I would love that, and get in there. Wrestling in the WWE would be fun and another one of those childhood dreams I’ve accomplished.

AS: Thank you Curtis. Is there anyone you want to thank or give a shoutout to?

CM: I want to thank my team. Today was the last day at Reign Training Center. We closed up shop today. Everyone at the Reign Training Center. Mark Munoz, I want to thank him for all of the time and effort he’s put into the gym so we all have somewhere he’s train. The NOC Fight Team, Coach Billy, Mike Harris, all of my sponsors and everybody.

Invicta FC 13 … the road so far

Invicta Fighting Championships is coming off a successful 12th event this past weekend and it looks like the planning for its 13th fight card is underway with three matches.

Cris Justino vs. Faith Van Duin – Invicta featherweight title bout
Faith Van Duin played spoiler to Amanda Bell, who she submitted with a rear-naked choke early in the second round. She faces a dangerous opponent in the champion Cris Justino, who is coming off a 46-second TKO finish over Charmaine Tweet. “Cyborg” also has a UFC contract and titleholder Ronda Rousey to think about.

It will be interesting to see where Justino’s head is in preparation for this fight. Meanwhile Van Duin has a Herculean-task ahead of her. She has a good ground game, but she’ll need to find a way to get Justino to the ground and keep her there.

Herica Tiburcio vs. Ayaka Hamasaki – Invicta FC atomweight title bout
Herica Tiburcio is riding a lot of momentum after her upset win submission win over Michelle Waterson for the atomweight championship. She faces a seasoned veteran in Ayaka Hamasaki, who will look for redemption in the Invicta cage.

Hamasaki last appeared for the promotion at Invicta FC 6, where Claudia Gadelha finished her in the third round. Since then she’s gone 2-0 in competition.

Catherine Castigan vs. Amber Brown
The first nontitle fight that’s been announced is Amber “The Bully” Brown taking on Irish prospect Catherine Costigan. Brown is pretty well rounded while Costigan has a strong submission game.

This should be an exciting bout between two up-and-comers who are looking to make their marks in the atomweight division.

A third title match is expected to take place at Invicta fFC 13. Some speculate it would be for the vacant bantamweight title. Another possible bout is the rematch between Vanessa Porto and flyweight champion Barb Honchak.

Hallett finishes third in Math is Cool competition

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The fourth-grade Hallett Hawks Elementary Math is Cool team brought home a new plaque for the school’s trophy case after they placed third with 109 points at the Spokane Division II Math is Cool competition at Whitworth University, April 17. Hallett was one of several elementary schools in the West Plains, along with Betz, Salnave and Snowden in Cheney, Sunset in Airway Heights and Michael Anderson in Medical Lake that participated in the event.

The students prepared for the competition during Hallett’s fourth-grade MIC after-school program, which began at the end of March. In addition to the fourth-grader’s success, Hallett’s fifth-grade team finished third out of 16 at the March 20 Spokane Division II Math is Cool competition at Eastern Washington University.

The competition began with a 15-minute round of mental math where each student was asked eight questions. The next round consisted of a 40-question individual test, followed by two team tests, one multiple choice and one fill in the blanks.

“The competition is fun for the students and gives them a chance to do something they are good at,” Wendy Gilbert, fourth-grade teacher and Hallett’s MIC team coach said.

After a dinner break, the team competed in three rounds of college bowl where Hallett went up against Salnave, Arcada and Nine Miles Falls elementary schools.

Hallett’s Atlas Martin-Labrucherie finished third in the top 10 individual scorers of the competition with 67 points. Betz’s Mia Baldwin, Michael Anderson’s Austin Hickey, Salnave’s Adam Estock and Snowden’s Valerie Haynes also finished in the top 10.

Gilbert, along with family members and classmates who sat in a small section of the bleachers, was proud of the team’s effort

“The students worked hard during these last couple of weeks,” Gilbert said. “To finish third overall goes to show the teamwork and everyone’s contributions.”

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The Math is Cool contests are given annually at two levels. The first level is the regional level and tests are administered in Spokane, Moses Lake and Seattle. The top schools are then invited to participate in a statewide Masters contest. The official website of the competition is at http://www.academicsarecool.com/. This site may be used to check the calendar and register for the contests.

Past tests are online for the elementary, middle school and high school levels. These tests may be used to help prepare for the competitions this year.