“This is not about the promotion or the promoter. This is about you, the fighters, and the fans out there.” These were the words of Atlas Fights promoter and owner Glenn Mattina in the fighter’s rules meeting just prior to the first MMA show in the Louisiana/Mississippi area in nearly seven months. As fighters sat with their two cornermen in three-man clusters six feet apart, they were thanked for their desire to fight and put on a show. Atlas Fights 54 took place outside of the Mississippi Coast Coliseum, in view of the beach, on Saturday, August 01, 2020.
Tables were set up six feet apart for fans to watch the event as well as a mask requirement unless at your seat. It also marked the return of “Dynamite” David Hardy as the night’s M.C./ color commentator for the event. Hardy is the South’s premier voice of combat sports.
Devastating Knockout to Start the Night
Lightweight-Grant Hughes vs Daniel Moseley
Grant Hughes put on a solid performance landing a takedown out of the gate, on his opponent Daniel Moseley. After some solid strikes on the mat, the fight went back to the feet. Hughes, again, shot in for a takedown pressing Moseley to the fence. Near the end of the round, Hughes landed a big shot that dropped Moseley. After rushing onto the downed opponent, Moseley attempted an armbar but time ran out of the first round. The second round saw more of the same with Hughes landing a couple of takedowns at will. Hughes showed his striking is just as dangerous, landing a knockout blow on Moseley leading the referee to call the action. Grant Hughes wins via second-round knockout.
The Knockouts Continue in Bout Number Two
Welterweight-Shane Dixon vs Jonathan Ladnier
Shane Dixon came out like a hurricane on the Gulf, looking for the knockout shot with a series of heavy swings. Ladnier was trying his best for the takedown but was unable to get it done as he ate shot after shot. Dixon was actually the one to land the huge slam and followed it up with heavy strikes to end the bout early in the first round. Shane Dixon wins via first-round knockout.
The Night’s First Title Fight and a Fan-Favorite Bout
Amateur Lightweight Title-David Gordon vs Travis Chitwood
The Atlas Fights Amateur Lightweight title was on the line in the night’s third bout as Gracie United-Team Jucao’s David Gordon battled Travis Chitwood from Team NKI in Knoxville, Tennessee. This was an amazing matchup of styles as the BJJ brown belt Gordon met the heavy-handed, big striker in Chitwood. Gordon showed off his striking to beginning the bout, landing some good knees in the clinch. Chitwood was able to muscle Gordon to the cage and get a trip on Gordon.
Gordon was able to instantly return to his feet but Chitwood pressed Gordon back to the cage and reeled off a series of body shots. Gordon’s jabs and crosses were on point and he used his kicks well to keep the distance. Chitwood landed a huge uppercut which sent Gordon reeling back to the cage. Gordon recovered nicely and ended the round displaying his sharp jab-cross combos and two head-high kicks.
The Action Continues in Round Two
Gordon went back to his jab, which was working so well for him in the first round. Chitwood landed a big cross-jab combination showing he was still in the fight to win. Chitwood then muscled Gordon to the ground but thought better of trying to tangle with the brown-belt and allowed Gordon to get to his feet. Gordon landed another big knee and tried for a takedown, but Chitwood was able to stop the attempt. Chitwood was throwing a hammer of strikes, but they just could not find their home as Gordon continued to throw the kick to keep his distance. Both fighters had their moments in their round, landing their respective style of strikes.
The third round was similar to the second with Gordon keeping the distance with a long jab and good kicks and Chitwood hunting for the knockout blow. Every swing from Chitwood had knockout written all over it, should it connect. Gordon did what a champion does and avoided the damage. When the judges’ scorecards were announced, Gordon was named the champion. David Gordon won the lightweight title via unanimous decision.
Words From the Champion: David Gordon
Just as you would expect from a Champion, Gordon had nothing but respect for his opponent. “I was supposed to fight on the Atlas card in April, but of course, that never happened because of COVID, and was matched against a couple of heavy hitters so I was expecting someone to try to knock my head off the whole time,” Gordon told MyMMANews. “I was excited to test myself against someone with legit knockout power. My opponent [Travis Chitwood] even fought in a kickboxing bout at 205 pounds last year and knocked out his opponent in less than 20 seconds with 16-ounce gloves, so you know Travis has KO power. Travis is a proven and battle-tested fighter so I knew this was the harder test compared to the other guys that they wanted to match me up against.”
“I was most surprised by that guy’s chin. I landed a lot of devastating knees, punches, and head kicks and he stayed in there and fought till the last bell. A lot of these other guys would have melted from the pressure and looked for a way out. Mad respect to Travis Chitwood. That dude was game and has an iron skull,” Gordon stated.
Insight to the Future
“Hopefully in a few months they will continue having fight cards so I can defend my title, but you never know what’s going to happen next with all the virus madness,” Gordon said. “My team and I jumped on this opportunity because these cards are not guaranteed months down the line. We have seen countless promotions cancel their events in the past few months.”
Gordon also gave us some insight into what we need to look out for from Gracie United-Jucao South in the near future. “I have several teammates that are looking to fight soon and I’m excited to corner them in the next months. Be on the lookout for Kurt Holobaugh’s return to the cage. DJ and Ethan Hughes have been chomping at the bit to return and continue fighting. My other teammates Trey Wimbrow and Seth Dardar are looking to having their debuts in MMA soon and y’all do not want to miss a card with those guys on it. Thank you to my team Gracie United-Jucao South. United we are strong!”
Tough Bantamweights Battle It Out For Amateur Title
Bantamweight Title-Derrick Rawls vs Davin Scott
Next on this amazing lineup of fights was the battle for the Atlas Fights Amateur Bantamweight Championship. Derrick Rawls battled Davin Scott in a very closely contested battle. Rawls had a few inch height advantage over Scott, which he used early to land a heavy shot that almost sent Scott reeling. Scott reversed the momentum and landed a takedown. After a bit of back and forth on the ground, both fighters returned to their feet just to have Scott land another takedown and return the bout to the ground. Scott continued to stay active with his striking on the mat to end the first round.
Round two was just as action-packed with both fighters displaying their stand up skills, neither really taking control of the other. Rawls gets a quick takedown but both return to their feet quick. After starting out with a few on the feet exchanges, the rest of the bout saw both fighters looking to take control on the mat. The third round saw Rawls try to land a body kick, but Scott caught it and drove him down for the takedown. Scott kept a lot of pressure on Rawls, not allowing him to “shrimp” free from the tight pressure. Scott was able to maintain top control and ride out the round to lock in the victory. When the scorecards were announced, Scott was named the new champion. Davin Scott wins Atlas Fights Amateur Bantamweight Championship via unanimous decision.
Lightweights Kick-Off Professional Portion of Card
Pro Lightweight-JC DeLeon vs Justice Lamperez
As expected Gladiators Academy fighter Justice Lamperez and Fitness Fight Factory’s JC DeLeon had a hard-fought, close battle. Lamperez had the height advantage, but DeLeon did not let that stop him, landing a big takedown. The majority of this round was either spent on the mat or with pressing action on the cage. In the second round, DeLeon was establishing his combos early, throwing the jab low to the body then the cross to the head. Each at their moment controlling the striking battle before DeLeon landed another takedown. DeLeon landed several takedowns but Lamperez showed his ability to get back to his feet quick.
Round three began similar to the second round with both fighters exchanging strikes. DeLeon shot in for the takedown, pressing Lamperez to the cage. After some hard work, DeLeon got the takedown he needed. DeLeon was looking for the submission but Lamperez denied his attempts at every turn. Needing to get the top position to get the win, Lamperez finally did so, but there were only 10 seconds left. When the judges’ scorecards were read, DeLeon won his pro debut in a very tightly contested bout. JD DeLeon wins via split decision.
Heavyweight Pros Rattle the Cage in the Co-Main Event
Heavyweight-Brandon Hebert vs Tel Faulkner
When heavyweights collide, there is always the chance the fight will not last long. This was exactly one of those fights. Heavyweight prospect Brandon Hebert only needed 23 seconds to end the night of Tel Faulkner. Faulkner came out the gate swinging heavy shots, looking to see what would connect. Hebert stood in the pocket and threw his own shots, dropping Faulkner. The referee stepped in quickly and called for the stoppage. Brandon Hebert wins via 1st round knockout.
Words From Brandon Hebert
So what is next after a 23 second win? “The plan is to get right back in there ASAP. I’m not getting any younger you know,” Hebert told MYMMANews. “I’m chasing a dream that very few comprehend. My window of opportunity is closing. With the pandemic going on right now, it makes it tough but it’s making us stronger and smarter team. With that said, whatever Coach Christian feels is right, that’s next for me.” Also in regards to strains of COVID on MMA,” I feel like it was pretty hectic for them to figure out and it was something new to no one else had ever did so I’m sure it was a challenge, but I think the next one will be even smoother. They put on an awesome card whether it was a pandemic going on or not. Mrs. Dawn and Glenn are the best when it comes to taking care of the fighters and their safety.”
Two Evenly Matched Opponents Battle in Main Event
Welterweight-Michael McDonald vs Omar Johnson
Two of the best pros in the South, Michael McDonald and Omar Johnson, clashed in the night’s main event. Both fighters were showing their striking versatility at first, find their range on their punches and kicks. McDonald earned the first takedown of the bout, taking down Johnson with a single-leg. Eventually, the two get back to their feet and separate in the middle of the cage. McDonald’s legs are visible red at this point from the leg kicks being thrown by Johnson. Both fighters were throwing their series of combos to end the first round.
Round two started with the two fighters exchanging strikes. Johnson continued to pressure the legs with a big kick, but McDonald came over the top at the same time landing a big strike to Johnson. McDonald was able to land another takedown. Once back to their feet, McDonald landed the takedown again. Johnson was able to scoot over to the cage, but McDonald attempted a rear-naked choke. He could not quite get his arm under the neck and was more so a jaw crank.
Heading into the final frame, Johnson’s jab was on point, practically landing at will. He followed that up with a nice cross to the body. Once on the mat, McDonald was able to lure Johnson into a realm he was more comfortable with. Johnson was able to keep good pressure on top but almost found himself caught in an armbar. A few elbows were also landed from the top by Johnson. The bout ended with Johnson controlling the stand-up battle. When the scorecards came in, Johnson was announced the winner. Omar Johnson wins via unanimous decision.