(12/11/08 – Cleveland, OH) – The 2008 NAAFS National Amateur season came to an exciting and controversial close at Night of Champions in Cleveland, OH. There were new champions crowned in an amazing night of mixed martial arts action. Add to the mix a fight of the year candidate in the main event, it was definitely a night to remember.
The main event of the card was a Pro Series bout between 2006 Fighter of the Year “Smokin” Joe Heiland and 2007 Fighter of the Year Torrance “The Tyrant” Taylor. With the accolades of both competitors entering this fight, fans were almost guaranteed to see a fight to remember and it was just that. Heiland controlled the action early on, using his wrestling background to secure repeated takedowns on Taylor in the first round. The second round was a complete contrast, as Taylor controlled the pace of the fight with his stand-up game to win the round. The controversy began in the final round, which saw Taylor as the aggressor early on, but ended with Heiland rebounding and unleashing a fury of his own. The end result was a unanimous decision victory for “Smokin” Joe Heiland, who now improves to 11-0. Both Joe Heiland and Torrance Taylor proved that they are two of the best fighters in any organization and could easily add another fight of the year to both of their resumes.
Adam Saal made history by becoming the first ever NAAFS National Amateur Bantamweight Champion, defeating Josh Castro in an exciting back and forth fight by split decision. The NAAFS plans to further expand on the Bantamweight division in 2008, giving the lighter weight classes an opportunity to shine.
In a rematch from Rock N Rumble, Lyle Sansoucie gained a measure of revenge with his win over Eric Noel to capture the 2008 National Amateur Featherweight title. Sansoucie began the year competing on the NAAFS Club Series circuit and finished the year climbing all the way to the top of the division. He forced the more experience Noel to tap out to a rear naked choke in round 1, bringing the gold back to Team DNA.
The National Amateur Lightweight champion is USA Martial Art’s Josh Johnson, who won the title by defeating LA Hampton in the finals. Johnson shot in early for a takedown that resulted in Hampton landing awkwardly on his arm, dislocating his elbow. It was a freak accident and the end result is Johnson remains unbeaten (9-0) and is now known as champion.
Aaron Maynard completed his run at Night of Champions, defeating Sean-Paul Veilleux by triangle choke in the first round to capture the 2008 National Amateur Welterweight title. Maynard rebounded after a loss to Nick Duell at Rock N Rumble with a win over Russ Halsey at Midwest Combat Challenge 5 to earn the title shot. He then rose to the occasion with a win over a very tough Veilleux for the right to be called champion.
Instigator Fight Team’s AJ Aeschlimann remained undefeated (6-0) with his unanimous decision victory over Chris Lozano to win the 2008 National Amateur Middleweight title. Aeschlimann used his size advantage and wrestling prowess to control the fight and walk out with the gold. After the win, Aeschlimann made his intentions known that he plans to make the move to the Pro Series at some point in 2009.
Dane Bonnigson became the first ever independent fighter to win NAAFS National Amateur gold, when he defeated Marc Strickland by TKO in the first round to became the National Amateur Light Heavyweight champion. Bonnigson remained a quiet unknown for most of the year, but kept racking up victories and hasn’t stopped.
The 2008 National Amateur Heavyweight title fight between Adam Farrell and John Hawk ended with a high level of controversy and as a result, there is currently no champion. A point deduction to Farrell in round two changed the landscape of the judge’s score cards when it was time render a decision. Instead of it being unanimous for Farrell, the fight was ruled a majority draw. The NAAFS is currently investigating into the matter and will render a decision on who will be the 2008 National Amateur Heavyweight champion.
The 2008 NAAFS National Amateur Series has come to a close and focus has already begun on 2009 and beyond. This event wouldn’t have been possible without all the great athletes who competed, the excellent training centers, and our wonderful sponsors: Bloody Buddy Fight Gear, United States Army, Don’s Brooklyn Chevrolet, Dillards Department Stores, BetonFighting.com, Karrington Group, SportsTime Ohio, SportsTalkNETWORK.com, Hard Rock Café of Cleveland, and John P. Lennon.
Tickets are on sale now for the 2009 NAAFS Season Opener (Midwest Combat Challenge 6 sponsored by Gatsby’s Pub) scheduled for January 10th in Akron, Oh. For a complete fight card, tickets or information log on to www.NAAFS.tv or call 330-280-8442.
The North American Allied Fight Series is the region’s premiere mixed martial arts organization. The television program NAAFS Cage Fighting can be seen domestically every Sunday night at 10pm EST on the television home of the Cleveland Indians, SportsTime Ohio, nationally via Direct TV and Dish Network Sports Packaging and internationally on GTV. NAAFS Radio can be heard Tuesday nights at 10pm EST online at www.SportsTalkNETWORK.com and Friday nights at 11pm EST on SportsRadio 1350 AM WARF. For more information on the NAAFS, log onto www.NAAFS.tv.