Empire Fighting Championships: A Night of Reckoning 4

Late as always I bolted into the event center of Harrah’s Casino in Tunica, MS , trying to put camera pieces together as I went; just as the referee was holding up the hand of my good bud Isaac Ware from Tupelo BJJ. Bummed I missed out on the first fight, I made a mental note to ask all the details later. I found out he had won a split decision against a very dangerous fighter, Jimmy White. Ware says its was his toughest fight to date.


Next to battle was Jeremiah Trundle from my home gym Memphis BJJ with a following  of enthusiastic fans  and Austin Garner from John Hubbard Martial Arts, as soon as the bell rang Trundle landed a quick series of shots, and controlled the fight when it went to the mat. He sank in a sweet rear naked choke just 54 seconds in.  I couldn’t wait to see the next bout, and I get extra antsy when someone from my team is fighting. Next up at was Mike Houston, also from Memphis BJJ and one of my favorite guys to train with. He had a tough opponent from Team Torment, Dave Martin. Both fighters worked hard , starting off with Houston who landed a knee kick to the head. The whole first round was a battle with both fighters swapping heavy knees and good strikes. In the next round, Martin took Houston down, where Martin landed in his guard, and the round ended with an attempted Guillotine by Houston.  By round three I couldn’t sit still, and maneuvered my way as close as I could to see the action. With a takedown scored by Martin, Houston started working his ground game,  and was able to sink in a leg triangle. I could hear my coaches screaming as he worked and adjusted his attack. By the time his hand was raised I was already losing my voice. If the amateur card was that intense, I didn’t know what else was in store. From Team R.O.C.K was Brian Horton against another Memphis BJJ fighter, Brian Hall.  From beginning to the end this fight was so fast paced, I couldn’t keep up. In the second round, Hall secured a head arm triangle in a scramble which brought Horton to tap. I was so proud of my team, all subs so far, and a great example of the level of jiujitsu at our gym. The pros were up next and I couldn’t wait.


First Pro fight on the card was another talented fighter, Jonathan JByrd Burdine, from Paragon (affiliated with Tupelo BJJ) and one of the coolest guys I know against Taylor Callens from Team Relentless, I’ve never seen him fight but I heard he’s super tough, and lived up to the hype. Both fighters showing respect to each other and true heart  in the cage. Round one and two were similar with lots of knees to the body which landed on both fighters in the beginning, matching strikes throughout both rounds. Round Three, after a few strikes traded, Callens went for a spinning back elbow which paid off, giving Callens the win with an impressive KO.


Next up, at a catch weight match at 162, was Shawn Johnson from Team Relentless and Dan Schroeppel of Germantown Martial Arts . Taller Johnson had quite the reach and took advantage of it. Schroeppel was aggressive throughout and landed a takedown quickly, he then secured a position on Johnson with a rear naked choke attempt. A few strikes later, the round was over with both fighters’ blood on the ground. In round two, Johnson was turning up the heat with some impressive striking and a strong guillotine attempt. Last round, both fighters seemed winded but determined with Johnson finishing up the round with some hard hitting  strikes. The decision went to Shawn after a battle against an extremely tough fighter.


The seventh fight that night was Dustin Rhodes of  Team Flatline  and Abe Wilson of Germantown Martial Arts as middleweights.  Quickly in the first round, Wilson stalked  forward  with a storm of strikes which rocked Rhodes, Wilson then attacked with more strikes on the ground, until ref Michael Cain stopped the fight. Wilson moves to 2-1 as a pro with yet another remarkable win.


Next up to fight was one of the nicest guys I know, and strikeforce fighter Cody Floyd from Tupelo BJJ  fighting  Harry Johnson an extremely tough  opponent from Team Vortex . Johnson seemed to be determined to keep it standing until the last minute of the round, when he landed a takedown. Floyd was working inside jabs throughout, and seemed relaxed throughout the first round. In the second round, the ground was where Floyd  wanted to be, but took a few vicious kicks from Johnson before Floyd scored the takedown. Seeing Cody grapple many time before, I knew he was in his element as he secured a good position and started raining down strikes , when the ref had to call it. I could hear my Tupelo Buddies screaming over everyone as Cody landed another win as a pro; after Cody’s hand was raised he gave many props to his opponent who had put up one heck of a fight.


 Hanging out backstage behind all the smoke and lights, I saw Jacob Noe of Memphis Bjj walk out , I saw the look of intensity of his face, and knew this was going to be another  awesome brawl, his opponent was Tel Faulkner of Team Gorilla Squad MMA in the heavyweight division. Moving in as soon as the bell rang , Noe threw a few heavy strikes and took the fight to the ground and secured an arm triangle with one minute and fifty eight seconds left in the round. With an impressive win he improved his record 3-1.


The eighth fight of the night and co-mean event of the night at 170 was Andy Uhrich of Team Vortex and Charlie Rader of Team Power MMA from New Orleans, La. Uhrich also Strikeforce veteran and Rader is a veteran of Bellator. In the first round, kicks from Rader seemed to affect Uhrich and  it allowed him to be driven into the cage where both fighters threw elbows and knees, until Rader landed a takedown and was able to gain mount. It seemed like a tight submission was locked but Uhrich exploded out of it , and it happened to quickly too pinpoint exactly what kind of escape just occured. When round two began Uhrich was handed a stiff Jab by Rader, along with a hard right Rader went down. With Rader for the win , both fighters were respectful and showed true dedication throughout the match.


The main event of the night was Austin Lyons and fellow teammate from Memphis BJJ against Zach Underwood of Team Relentless from Union City, TN who Austin actually briefly went to college with and both got the same start in MMA at a smaller gym in Dyersburg, TN.  I had a chance to ask him a few more questions about his fight before hand , and he explained he’s excited about being the main event and being able to fight for a title. Training for 5 years , 3 at our current gym in Memphis, where he leads Fitness Kickboxing classes ,trains constantly in class and works hard with other fighters.


Five rounds straight these guys battled, and the whole crowd was on edge. Underwood moved around the cage as Lyons stalked consistently. The fight went to the ground briefly and both were called for landing (maybe questionable) illegal strikes, with one of the rounds ending with Lyons raining down punches which I thought was going to be ref stoppage. Neither fighter was anywhere close to calling it quits though. The fight went every bit of 5 rounds, it ending with both fighters giving it everything they had.  I really can’t rave enough about the impressive bouts I had just witnessed. Both these guys had incredible professionalism and respect towards each other , and I could go on all night about how impressive these two guys were in the cage. . It was a great matchup and pure war from beginning to end. I couldn’t forget a fight like that, and would love to see both guys in the cage again soon. Winning by Split Decision, Austin walked out of the cage with the Empire Fighting Championship belt, soon being mobbed by most of the Memphis BJJ team who came out to support.  Austin hopes to hear from larger organizations in the future , and after a fight like that it shouldn’t be long. He wants to thanks all his training partners at MBJJ who spend a lot of time working with him and making sure he’s the best Austin Lyons he can be on fight night. Also, a big thanks to his family for being an awesome support group.


David Ferguson matched up some great fighters, while Harrahs put on a unforgettable event.There are many more people who made this event a success, and I wish I could give you all credit.  I know I won’t be missing any upcoming bouts put on by these guys, but it’s going to be hard to top.

Peace, Love, and Armbars




http://www.jaycjohnsonphotography.com/(thank you!!)




Disclaimer: Yes I know there are lots of grammatical errors, plenty of misspelled words,and remember this is a from girls perspective. I write about what I love, which is jiu jitsu and every aspect that involves the sport.

.. and dont be too critical, I’m new to this. 😉

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