Anthony Howard vs. Jose Navarro: The Rematch at Izmatik FC 1

When Anthony ‘Homicide’ Howard and Jose ‘El Toro’ Navarro met in 2014 at Hoplite Fight Productions (HFP) 4: No Judges Required, the scorecards, ironically, sealed a conclusion to the contest; however, in the rematch at Izmatik Fighting Championship 1 on September 9, 2017, they are confident: the officials scoring the event won’t be necessary.

Round after round, Howard and Navarro emptied their toolboxes in order to regularly reverse one another and rally their offense when inches of space became available. A split-decision in favor of Howard granted him the vacant HFP Flyweight Title, sparked a heated rivalry with Navarro, and generated tremendous anticipation for the upcoming rematch.

Since HFP 4, these gladiators from ‘The Golden State’ have accumulated hours in the gym, wins in the cage, and belts wrapped around their waist.

Navarro has excelled in the amateur ranks under the watchful eye of Thrive MMA in Madera. Following the unfortunate loss against Howard, Navarro collected the No Limit Fighting Championship Flyweight Title by knocking out his opponent in twenty-seven seconds. It’s been nearly a year and a half since Navarro last stepped in a cage, but he’s so corroded with vengeance that cage rust will be a non-issue at Izmatik FC 1.

Earlier this year, Howard added to his trophy case of MMA gold when he defeated Freddy Mendez at Cagebound Fighting Championships (CFC) 3 for the vacant CFC Strawweight Title. As a product of Last Stand Fight Team in Sonora, Howard’s small stature doesn’t confine his lofty dreams of standing alone at the top of the lighter weight classes. In a reunion with Navarro, the killer known as ‘Homicide’ will, once again, look to play the role of matador.

The first three rounds of Howard versus Navarro were a judge’s nightmare, but those in attendance of Izmatik FC 1, at the Merced Fairgrounds, will exit the venue with dreamy memories of violence produced in the promotion’s premier main event.

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Buddy Wallace and Adrian Diaz: Northern California’s Next Contenders

Northern California is a hotbed of MMA talent, and a pair of well-known prospects throughout the region, Buddy Wallace (15-6) and Adrian Diaz (11-4-1), will be granted an opportunity to showcase why they belong beyond the local bubble on the sixth week of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contenders Series. (DWTNCS).

Wallace’s willingness to hurdle the wall separating him from regional superstardom and the upper-echelon of the UFC is evident in his acceptance of a late-notice, middleweight bid versus Charles Byrd (8-4). Two weeks ago, Global Knockout (GKO), a premier promotion in the region, requested Wallace’s services, and he accepted without pause. In fact, his TKO stoppage of Mike Morales at GKO 10 cancelled a three year hiatus from the 185-pound division Hungrier than ever at the higher weight class, Wallace, again, welcomed the last-minute chance to feast with his fists after receiving an invitation to headline week 6 of DWTNCS.

Diaz’s resume already reads as though he belongs on the global stage, but he’s only missing the three letters everyone recognizes in MMA—UFC. Training alongside an elite cast at Team Alpha Male, the Tachi Palace Fights Featherweight Champion is already aware of where his skill set stacks up in comparson to other 145-pounders. Now, Diaz will be able to prove his capabilities to those logged in to UFC Fight Pass in a clash with Grant Dawson (11-1).

Angel ‘The Dream’ De Anda: Set to Cause A Nightmare on Episode 2 of DWTNCS

Since 2008, Angel ‘The Dream’ De Anda (18-5) has proven to be a hot commodity in Northern California’s middleweight and light heavyweight MMA market. On July 18, 2017, he will have an opportunity to demonstrate to the UFC’s President, Dana White, and those logged in to UFC Fight Pass that he is a nightmare for anyone standing across from him when meeting Dan Spohn (15-5) in Episode 2 of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series (DWTNCS).

Reeling off six victories in a row, claiming the Global Knockout Middleweight Title, and bouncing between 185 and 205-pounds, De Anda probably wondered whether or not he was truly awake, and needed a firm pinch, after receiving the call to appear on DWTNCS. By snatching the GKO strap from Justin Baseman, an experienced vet, at GKO 9 and punctuating, in exclamatory fashion, his last contest in the light heavyweight division at Tachi Palace Fights, TPF 31, over an aggressive, no-nonsense version of Mike Morales, the member of Oakdale’s Last Stand Fight Team became a darker blip on the UFC’s radar.

GKO 9: Angel De Anda vs. Justin Baesman for the GKO Middleweight Championship

TPF 31: Angel De Anda vs. Mike Morales in the light heavyweight division

De Anda’s opponent on DWTNCS is Dan ‘The Dragon’ Spohn (15-5). Spohn has collected numerous belts at 205-pounds in pockets of the United States and Canada, and standing as a skyscraper at 6’4”, he’ll own considerable size over the 5’8” De Anda. Aside from the ‘David versus Goliath’ theme the disparity in stature produces, fight fans can expect De Anda, in hopes of earning a contract to join the UFC’s roster, to swing heavy leather from the first bell inside the intimate atmosphere of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada, testing the theory: the bigger they are, the harder they fall.

Even though the athletes featured on DWTNCS aren’t promised entrance into the sport’s elite promotion, De Anda’s work ethic and patience to reach where he’s at highlights: dreams can become a reality.

Lamar ‘Lion King’ Reed: The Fighting Pride of Conquer 4

When Lamar ‘Lion King’ Reed’s father, Darryl Reed, was released from Federal prison after a twenty-eight year long sentence toward the end of 2016, the timing coincided, maybe even bolstered, his developing sense of comfort while competing as a professional mixed martial artist.

Long before Reed was defying the odds in MMA, his childhood narrative primed the possibility of becoming: another statistic—one that all too commonly repeatedly hits the headlines. Nearly three decades ago, Reed’s father was a drug kingpin, known as ‘The Crack King,’ in Oakland, California. As one of President Obama’s final orders of business in the White House, clemency was granted to individuals, such as Darryl Reed, and a bond between father and son, a bond that actually never loosened throughout Reed’s youth, adhered tighter than ever upon his release.  On Episode 22 of the @norcalfightmma Podcast (link here), he openly discussed these circumstances through his prism of positivity.

While a heap of the conversation centered around Reed’s upcoming catchweight bout at Conquer Fighting Championships—Conquer 4—against Daniel ‘The Animal’ McWilliams (15-36), a journeyman with fifty-plus professional fights, an exploration into Reed’s recollection of the relationship he had with his father while behind bars opened listeners’ eyes to how such a unique experience molded him; moreover their present-day connection, since being reunited, will further shape his fighting career in a sport where support systems can often prove as valuable as training itself.

“My dad had been locked up most of my life; he just got out last October. We have a great relationship. We’ve always been really close,” Reed boasted before time traveling into the past. “It helped mold me in a lot of ways—not having my father physically there. It made me a better person.”

Reed’s wide smile, one that will be replaced with a snarl and a mouth guard on June 24, 2017 at the Craneway Pavilion, while reminiscing reminded the audience of his happy ending—and bright future. Interestingly enough, his father’s incarceration afforded Reed the opportunity, thanks also to many loving relatives, to travel the nation as a kid in order to remain united with his father.

“It was important to my mother, and it was important to my family that we had a close relationship. I have a lot of appreciation to my mom and to my grandmother and to my aunt, and everybody who would take me—because,” Reed emphasized, “he was in Federal; he wasn’t in state. They would do things like send him across the country to places like Philadelphia; that’s how I got to see the country.”

Flash-forward to today, with his father in the audience when the bell rings, the duo, if Reed adds to his momentum and bulks up his 5-4 record, may soon travel to arenas in every corner of the world. Although Reed will be housed locally at Conquer 4, the live stream of FloCombat.com will digitally teleport him, his father, and everyone else inside the Craneway Pavilion from the Port of Richmond to the fingertips of every fight fan logged in every corner of the globe.

Prior to Conquer 4, Reed jumpstarted 2017 in early February with an emphatic, thirty-second knockout victory, the first with his father in attendance, at Gladiator Challenge: Mega Brawl, and the product of Last Stand Fight Team in Oakdale soared with confidence when projecting what to expect in his future performance, with an even greater number of family, in his Bay Area backyard.

“It’s very motivating. I felt very motivated in my last fight, knowing it was the first time he (Reed’s father) would get to see me. Now, fortunately, this (Conquer 4) is close to Oakland; I’m going to have a lot of family come that has never seen me fight. That’s definitely a motivating factor; when you can get that support, you know you want to impress everybody. They want to see some excitement, and they want me to bring home the W. So I got to do my part.”

Join the family reunion as one of Reed’s followers (link here) as he inches closer to the date of Conquer 4 circled on his calendar: June 24th.