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LFC 30: Born to be Wild takes the show to the Buffalo Chip in Sturgis, South Dakota. This is the 80th anniversary of the world-famous bike rally that is a ‘must do’ and ‘bucket lister’ for bike enthusiasts from around the globe. Yes, this is a different crowd than the ladies are used to, but good MMA does not need to sell itself to anyone. How cool is it to see fans using their ‘Hogs’ as seats, enjoying what splendor LFC has to offer. Speaking of her interaction with the crowd, Tomiko 'The Temptress' Tajima (1-4) said, “I loved fighting at Sturgis. The people were very friendly and personable. I had several people (men and women) compliment me on my physique and looks (especially when I told them my age). I am proud to be in my 50s, showing women out there that you can be strong and keep yourself fit with no excuses. I was quite flattered. So many people walked up and told me they really enjoyed my fight! That is the best compliment a fighter can get! :)”
Credit goes to the ring announcer, Johnny Tumbleweed, who did a fantastic job filling in for A.J. Kirsch – a shout-out goes to Terry Magnum, the fill-in coach of the Pink Team – and a big “thank you” goes out to Teri 'Feisty Fists' London (3-3) who filled in as LFC’s first female referee, owing to the fact that her scheduled fight against Jenn 'The Real Deal' Repp (1-0) was cancelled. There were four wrestlers making their LFC debuts, and new/never before seen submission hold that was revealed, causing the announcers to come up with a new name for the maneuver. To add more drama to the event, the interim Prez, Holly 'The Lotus' Mei (16-5), announced that she is stepping down and is returning to her role as a fighter. Here is the recap of the six matches that took place.

Bout #1: Gilley vs. Quinn: Bloody Guillotine

First up, seemingly riding out of nowhere on the backs of motorcycles, are two fighters with sentimental ties to the rally. Brooke 'The Guillotine' Gilley (1-0) takes on a possible ringer in Suzy 'Stiletto' Quinn (0-1). Brooke grew up in Sturgis and Suzy has visited the event ten straight years. Quinn is outed by a keen announcer as possibly being the pro wrestler: Mercedes.

The first round begins cautiously for the fighters; both are content in stand-up and make brief visits to the mat. Brooke is first to commit to an attack, when half-way through the round, she tries to end it with an armbar that fizzled. The action reset, and it was back to stand-up. Quinn attempts a rear-naked choke that is blocked by Gilley. This was a very close round.

Round two starts off with an aggressive Quinn, stepping right into an unexpected guillotine choke. Suzy, bleeding profusely from her nose, has no choice but to tap. This was no way to celebrate her 10th anniversary at Sturgis, but give her credit for trying to make it a memorable one. Brooke Gilley, giving a shout-out to the troops, made the most of her homecoming.

Speaking of her opponent and of the finishing move, Brooke said, “I definitely underestimated her in the first round; she’s a strong girl, and very quick at transitioning. I was hoping to get a guillotine; honestly, I kept looking for a hole for it. When she charged, I had that ‘it’s time’ moment and took it.”

Brooke’s arrival went smooth, and she is intent on making a name for herself in the league. Her first victory at Sturgis is a memorable one. She went on to say, “winning at Sturgis was an amazing feeling! Growing up there, going to the rally, and having friends there to support me in person for my first aired fight was an amazing experience. I really wanted to make everyone proud, and get a good leg in with the LFC. I am very grateful for the opportunity and I’m looking forward to my next fight.”

Bout #2: Tajima vs. Valentine: Just for Kicks

Jenny 'Bloody' Valentine (3-3) won by decision against Tomiko 'The Temptress' Tajima (1-4) at LFC 27: Sexy, Nerdy, Inked & Curvy, suffered a two fight suspension in the process for an illegal kick to Tomiko’s delicates. Has ‘The Temptress’ forgotten the offense that happened over a year ago? No, definitely not. Tomiko returns the favor, and shrewdly kicks Jenny in privates during the instructions – causing an all out mayhem. Fortunately, referee Teri was able to return order to the bout. About getting even, Tomiko said, “I had a revenge tactic to kick her in the privates since she did that to me! I figured if I did it before the match even started, they couldn’t disqualify me or hit me with a penalty. I also knew that she wouldn’t expect it. Pretty sly right? ;)” – Indeed, it was.

Valentine, who recently considered retiring from the sport because of a back injury, starts the match aggressively and works an armbar that puts Tajima on the defensive. The injury did not affect Jenny’s strength; she actually looks stronger than before. Tajima tries to wrest control from Jenny, but is finding the going tough. A wardrobe malfunction to Jenny’s outfit while Tomiko was in top position punching away – caused the match to pause – stealing momentum away from Tajima. Round one goes to Jenny (and to the spectators).

Between rounds, Coach Leon Hater honors ‘The Karate Kid’ franchise and the reboot ‘Cobra Kai’, by telling Jenny to “sweep the leg.” Round two begins and the fast pace continues. The time of day makes the going tough. Tomiko, speaking of the weather, “It was a hot day, and I think it definitely had a little effect on me, but it wasn’t as bad as the heat in Las Vegas, so I was good. I was a bit sleep-deprived and hadn’t really eaten much that day, so I was concerned that I would gas-out during the match, but I surprised myself. My stamina was pretty good out there!” Tomiko, while they were tied up, managed to come away with a chunk of Jenny’s hair. Tajima did enough to even this match up with one round left.

Jenny, although looking more winded than Tomiko before the start of round three, is able to summon the energy to get the job done in the judge’s eyes. Tomiko looked cautious, waiting for an opening to materialize, but that opening never came. Jenny’s power game was too much for ‘The Temptress.’ Considering Tomiko’s effort, a unanimous win for Valentine definitely seemed unfair.

Bout #3: Fogle vs. Ink: Fogle’s Finish

The sight of Lauren 'The Animal' Fogle (6-4) on the back of a motorcycle is befitting of this brawler from Philly. But it denied the fans from seeing one of her high-energy entrances. Nonetheless, she gave her pre-fight primal screams that seemed at home in the great outdoors. Facing off against her was Bella Ink (2-3). Bella, just three weeks out from giving birth to her first child by a c-section, did not appear at a disadvantage and looked ready to go.

Round one opens with a fast pace; both women attempt to take control and assert their dominance. Ink looks fit and shows no signs of ring rust. Fogle, who is comfortable fighting in top position, strikes gold from the rear with a creative choke-hold that combines one arm around the neck, the other trapping Ink’s left arm and shoulder, and her powerful legs wrapped around Bella’s mid-section. Ink was trapped and wisely submitted.

The knock against Lauren, that she tears up lesser competition but folds against better fighters was dispelled in this fight. Bella, in spite of the recent childbirth, is no slouch and comes to fight. The only unresolved issue is what to call Lauren’s finishing move. One of the announcers suggested calling it “Fogle’s Finish.”

Bout #4: Garcia vs. Garcia: A Rude Welcoming

Nilka 'La Rosa' Garcia (13-5), making her first LFC appearance, gave the crowd more middle fingers than she did smiles. This native of San Juan, Puerto Rico; with a boxing background, was all business against the former champion, Monica 'Flowerbomb' Garcia (16-5). Nilka, known for heavy punches and is lethal with either hand will be putting it all on the line against ‘The Flowerbomb,’ a veteran of the sport, known for her power game and raw strength.

Round one shows us the willingness that Nilka has to throw hands; landing three quick uppercuts with her left to Monica’s mid-section. Nilka has the right idea, using movement with her punching prowess, but it is not long before reality sets in: Monica is just too strong and forces Nilka to change her game plan. It clearly became a game of defensive survival as opposed to offensive attacks for the newcomer. The round is close, the edge may have gone to Monica, but Nilka’s early success makes it hard to score.

Monica’s brutality makes round two much easier to score. Nilka does not have the space to do more than land the occasional bomb. Monica, takes her opponent to the ground, working with side control. A very close round, but the edge goes to the former champ.

Round three is much of the same as the previous, both fighters giving their all in a fast pace, exciting fight. The fans really got what they paid for in this one. Monica sees an opening for an armbar and takes it. Nilka stubbornly holds her position, with both her hands locked and tries to wait it out. Monica is able to break the lock and gets her first ever submission win in the LFC, just before the bell. What a fight!

Semi-main Event: Hexx vs Parks: Triangle Twerk

The semi-main event pairs two very experienced and current champions who enter the ring with real confidence and professional pride. This non-title fight features the European Champion, Jolene 'The Valkyrie' Hexx (21-6-1), taking on the Booty Camp Champ, Allie 'Babydoll' Parks (17-9). Jolene, needing no excuse to fight, was on board for LFC30 from the get go, with Allie coming out of retirement for one last fight. Lured by the thought of fighting at the world-famous Buffalo Chip, Allie switches to the Black Team to fight a former teammate in order to secure her spot at this pivotal event.

Uncharacteristic of Allie, she starts the fight off by showboating, giving her back up to ‘The Valkyrie’ who wastes no time in jumping on it. Jolene locks in a choke-hold and immediately takes it to the ground. That move, although not successful for Hexx, sets the tone for the rest of the first round. Parks is unable to find her rhythm, leaving her susceptible to the two-pronged attack of Jolene’s trash-talking and Krav Maga.

Less than a minute into the second round, Jolene appears to go for side control, but she sees an opening for an inverted triangle choke and quickly pounces on it. A partial triangle, held in place with Jolene’s body-weight, was difficult enough, but Hexx added a humiliating component to the move: twerking on Allie’s face. The Booty Camp Champ had no choice but to tap, giving Hexx her 21st win inside in MMA. The only other fighter to reach 20+ wins is the retired, former champion, Feather 'The Hammer' Hadden (21-1) (the only woman to hand Jolene an undisputed loss in the LFC.)

Possibly in preparation for her return to cage as a fighter, Holly 'The Lotus' Mei (16-5) dashes into the ring to separate the fighters after Parks’ display of unsportsmanlike conduct. Parks, chastised and insulted, walks away after collecting her cowboy boots. Will we ever see her compete in lingerie again? Only time will tell.

Main Event: Della Rouge vs. Mazzato: Dueling Mirrors

The main-event, for the vacant LFC Championship belt, brings together two fighters with similar styles. One, Shay 'The Fox' Mazzato (16-8), is a former champion who held the title for roughly 24 hours – the shortest title reign in LFC history. Her opponent, making her debut in lingerie, is Danika 'Dani' Della Rouge (15-5). This first time starter is no novice and brings an impressive resume into the league. In-ring experience, natural speed, immaculate execution, and a controversial outcome – this fight had it all.

After an acrobatic entrance, Danika settles into the torrid pace of a fight that is destined to go the distance. Mazzato, a fighter who has faced the best of the best, had her eyes set on becoming the first woman to recapture the title. Danika delivers a blazing suplex, following it up with side control. Her handiwork is met with aggression from Mazzato, a fighter who has seen it all. The speed here, as it is for the rest of the match, is hard to control, blurring the details for all in attendance. The scoring is tight so far.

Round two brings out an even more aggressive Mazzato, and it shows us the creative impulses of Danika. To illustrate the fact that these two women are basically making the same moves in the ring and are working off the same game plan, they simultaneously go through the ropes – luckily landing on the judge’s table. Moments later, they knock each other down with a mirrored double front kick to the mid-section. Mazzato may have done just enough to take this round.

The final round puts a stamp on the uncanny similarities of this fight. With dueling leg locks: both fighters, seated on the mat in 50/50 guard, wail away at each other with punches, and at one point, Mazzato answers Danika’s suplex from the first round. The round ends, I had Mazzato slightly ahead, but the judges unanimously favored Della Rouge. With performances that mirrored each other, it isn’t hard to see why the judges scored it as they did. However, for me, the only just outcome would have been a draw, possibly setting up a rematch. Of the comparison, Danika said, “I think myself and Shay matched up perfectly. We both seemed to be similar in fighting styles. I’d say we are both lions fighting for dominance and only one can come out on top.”

The decision drew the ire of three Pink Team members: Lauren Fogle, Tomiko Tajima, and Jolene Hexx – who entered the ring in protest. Of the protest, Tomiko said, “When we entered the ring, that was definitely not planned. We were honestly angry about the results of the fight. Clearly, the wrong woman won that one! I still can’t believe that the judges made that bad decision. Just watch that fight and you will clearly agree with us.”

Taking a more prudent approach, after the intensity of the moment had waned, Danika evaluated the situation and said, “I think we were all in the heat of the moment, I had just won the belt, that being said, I’m a newcomer coming into their territory. I can understand why they would feel protective. I just won the belt, and I already feel the power it brings. I want to show the LFC and the women that I deserve to hang with the big dogs.”

Going forward, the LFC has a new champion; she is fast, brave, and not afraid to stand up for herself, even when it’s 3 against 1. The title gives her a platform to show the next generation of fighters what it takes to get to the top of the most brutal sport, that is MMA. Danika is grateful and wants to make the best of her time with the belt. To the LFC Nation, she says, “I really want to thank the fans, after such a bad year hearing all the fans chant and cheer, it really helped me pull through. I wasn’t sure how this would turn out, but I know I’m ready to kick ass and take names for them.”

We hope you enjoyed the show, until next time, take care. -A.C. Mann