On Saturday, October 24, 2009, there was another significant title fight taking place in MMA, other than Machida vs. Shogun at UFC 104 in Los Angeles, California. Instead of taking place under the famous lights of Tinseltown, this bout would take place about halfway across the country in the northern Great Plains, not too far from the Canadian border, in the small town of New Town, North Dakota. The bout was for the Sovereign Nations MMA women’s flyweight title and it featured two-time world champion and Hall of Fame boxer Elena “Baby Doll” Reid squaring off against the seasoned Japanese fighter Masako Yoshida, who was a veteran of 36 pro MMA bouts.
The venue for Sovereign Nations MMA – Beatdown 5 was at the 4 Bears Casino & Lodge, just on the outskirts of New Town, North Dakota. Though this event is located far from most of the top MMA camps in the world, especially from the hometowns of Reid (Phoenix, Arizona) and Yoshida (Tokyo, Japan), it has been consistently attracting some top-level fighters to its events. Some of the fighters that have fought for this promotion include UFC veterans Jeff Monson, Chris Tuchscherer, Brandon Lee Hinkle, Mike Whitehead, Drew Fickett, and Nik Lentz. The “Beatdown 5” card would feature 9 bouts in total, 5 in MMA and 4 in Boxing. The boxing portion of the card was highlighted by a stable of fighters brought in by Virgil Hill, who is a former Olympic boxer and world champion. Hill is part Native American and helped create a solid connection between the state of North Dakota and the sport of boxing, which makes him an icon in the sport statewide. All 9 bouts would take place inside a ring with the matches from both sports alternating periodically throughout the course of the evening.
Sovereign Nations MMA links federally recognized tribes throughout the United States and Canada with its mission stating that its goal is to “develop, promote, and help regulate MMA in a fair and professional manner by federally recognized tribes that are sovereign nations.” Sovereign Nations MMA president Pat Packineau explained this further in a press release: “What makes SNMMA different from other native organizations is that it’s not based on race. SNMMA has been created to draw awareness that tribal casinos host numerous MMA events every year and our new organization unites tribes in the sport by having our own championship belt. The SNMMA’s goal is to bring notoriety to Native American casino MMA events and recognize the athletes competing on Tribal Lands for SNMMA championships.
Reid vs. Masako was the first female Sovereign Nations MMA title fight. Reid who has been boxing professionally for nearly 10 years, had earned a title shot by stopping the popular Michelle “Karate Hottie” Waterson via TKO at a SNMMA #1 contender’s match in her home state of Arizona last April. Yoshida would prove to be Reid’s toughest test to date. A veteran of 36 professional MMA bouts, Yoshida had a huge experience advantage over Reid who had only 3 previous MMA bouts to her credit. Yoshida has fought all over the top women’s promotions in Japan, including DEEP, Jewels, Smack Girls, Shooto, and GCM.
The bout would play out as many expected. Yoshida clearly did her homework when preparing for Reid, as she wasted no time in looking for a takedown to avoid Reid’s devastating striking ability. Yoshida would look to engage before quickly changing levels to look for single-leg takedown attempts. Reid who has trained at Cobra Kai, Xtreme Couture, and now back home at Arizona Combat Sports showed a lot of poise during these takedown attempts and constantly spun and stepped out when Yoshida would try to secure a leg. Once free, Reid would force Yoshida to join her on the feet. This sequence of events continued through most of the first and second rounds with Reid systematically picking her shots on the feet and defending takedowns and leg-lock attempts that began to look more desperate. Instead of setting them up more successfully, like she had done earlier in the fight, Yoshida would quickly lay back in her guard after a failed takedown attempt. Reid did not stray from her game plan and the referee was forced to make Yoshida stand each time Yoshida tried to butt scoot.
Midway through the third round, the bout finally hit a deciding climax. When Yoshida shot in for another takedown, Reid sprawled and stuffed the takedown easily. Reid then kept a hold of Yoshida’s midsection, as her legs were safely sprawled out of Yoshida’s reach. As Yoshida turtled, Reid kept a hold of her from north-south of her turtled position. From here, Reid began throwing big left hands that came crushing into Yoshida’s right rib cage. Instead of throwing ineffective hammer-fists, which a lot of fighters look for to score points, Reid continued to throw power shots. Each punch found its mark as Reid turned her hips into each blow. After several unanswered shots met their mark and Yoshida’s posture began to wilt, the referee Dan Grimestad had seen enough and called a stop to the action at 2:35 of Round 3. The crowd exploded with delete and Reid had the Sovereign Nations MMA women’s flyweight title belt put around her waist. Thus adding another chapter to her already sparkling combat sports career, which also includes two boxing world titles.
Also fighting on the card was Reid’s teammate at Arizona Combat Sports, Ray Steinbeiss who is a Bodog Fight and IFL veteran. He would face the undefeated and promising Kurt Pellegrino protégé Greg Soto in a bloody welterweight clash. In the first round, Soto the fighters would begin by trading shots on the feet, which appeared to be Steinbeiss’ game plan. After feeling each other out, Soto soon took Steinbeiss to the mat where he began his punishing ground and pound attack, while continuing to look to advance his position. Toward the end of the round, Soto had opened up a cut on Steinbeiss’ forehead, which began covering both men with blood. Round 2 would pick up where the first round left off with Soto again landing a takedown. This time he advanced his position and transitioned to a deep D’Arce Choke. The choke was in and a tap appeared imminent, but Soto opted to let go and transition to Steinbeiss’ back where he began throwing more punches. The fight finally came to a close when Soto locked on a Rear Naked Choke, which forced Steinbeiss to tap out at 4:10 of the second round.
In featherweight action, Minnesota Martial Arts Academy fighter Rich Taylor made his third appearance for Sovereign Nations MMA at 4 Bears Casino. He faced a stiff test in Arizona Combat Sports fighter Yaotzin Meza, who was also making his third appearance for the organization. Both men entered the contest 1-1 within the promotion and needed a win to rebound from submission losses in their most recent outings. This bout would end up going the distance with Taylor getting the hard fought Unanimous Decision nod 29-28, 30-27, 29-28 from the three judges Fred Fox, Benjamin Boucher, and Ken Lyson.
In the a bantamweight contest, Taylor’s teammate Gin Minajev at Minnesota Martial Arts Academy returned to MMA action for the first time in 5 ½ years, since dropping his last bout to UFC and Strikeforce lightweight veteran Jorge Gurgel in March 2004. Minajev would face Bob Tuttle who hails from Watertown, South Dakota, but was listed as fighting out of Iowa. This would be Tuttle’s second professional MMA bout, since making his debut at Adrenaline MMA 4 one month ago in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Experience would be the deciding factor and not ring rust, as Minajev would go on to submit Tuttle via Armbar at 2:10 of Round 1.
In the first MMA bout of the night, two heavyweights met in the center of the ring. Beau Tribolet, fighting out of Tucson, Arizona, would return to Sovereign Nations MMA after making a successful debut for the promotion in his home state in April. He would face Jami Klair who fighting out of Hastings, Minnesota. Klair made his debut for the promotion on the same card that Tribolet did in April. However, Klair was not as fortunate that night, as he went on to suffer his first loss Chris Tuchscherer that night, who is now fighting in the UFC. His second time out in the organization with a change of venue did not change Klair’s fortunes, however, as Tribolet would go on to win via TKO due to strikes at 3:16 of the opening round.
Sovereign Nations MMA – Beatdown 5 (October 24, 2009)
Match Winner Loser Method Round Time
1 Beau Tribolet over Jami Klair TKO (Punches) Round 1, 3:16
2 Gin Minajev over Bob Tuttle Submission (Armbar) Round 1, 2:10
3 Rich Taylor over Yaotzin Meza Decision (Unanimous) Round 3, 5:00
4 Greg Soto over Ray Steinbeiss Submission (Rear Naked Choke) Round 2, 4:10
5 Elena Reid over Masako Yoshida TKO (Punches) Round 3, 2:35
Match Winner Loser Method Round Time
1 Troy Maxwell over Sheldon Martin KO (Punch) Round 2, 2:07
2 Julio Sanchez over Marshall Martin KO (Punch) Round 1, 1:54
3 John Brown over Daniel Gonzalez Decision (Unanimous) Round 8, 3:00
4 Shawn Hawk over Donnell Wiggins KO (Punch) Round 2, 1:12