Gut Check Championship Series Recap

Gut Check Championship Series Recap: Stephens vs. Tapia

Delaware’s premiere kickboxing and Muay Thai promotion, Gut Check Championship Series, returned to the city of Newark for another packed night of combat sports on November 16th. The evening was originally supposed to be headlined by Rami Elite rising star, Kevin Rhodes taking on Matt Lyall in a professional 118lbs Muay Thai bout. However, Lyall failed to show on the day of the fight which pushed the slated co-main event-Team MVJ’s Jason “The Silent Assassin” Stephens taking on Weapons 9 veteran, Chris Tapia up to the main event spot.

When the dust settled, Stephens defended his 145lb Glory full rules championship title against Weapons 9’s Chris Tapia in a high energy bout that saw non stop action for all 5 rounds.

In the opening round of the main event, the fighters show respect, touch gloves and get to work. Stephens utilized his jab early and followed with leg kicks often to finish his combos. Tapia fires back with leg kick attempts but is met with a punches from Stephens who is dictating the pace from the outside early. Stephens stays consistent popping in and out and cutting multiple angles to keep Tapia guessing.

In the second stanza, the action picks up with both fighters pressing forward. Tapia starts to pick up on his kicks a bit and is utilizing much better head movement, evading most of Stephens attacks, but also accidentally putting himself in harms way to be illegally kneed to the head which Stephens is warned about. Tapia stays poised and never stops coming after Stephens. However, Stephens is piling up punches in bunches and staying in control.

Stephens opens the third round by flustering Tapia with straight punches down the middle to Tapia’s head. Tapia fires off several brutal leg kicks to even the score but Stephens seems just a slight step ahead of Tapia at every turn of the fight. Stephens blasts another accidental knee upstairs to Tapia’s head, this time warranting the referee to intervene and take a point from Stephens. The action resumes and both fighters try to capitalize on the mishap with Tapia gaining momentum while Stephens gets to work to make sure the point deduction doesn’t affect him too much in the final outcome.

Stephens is first to engage in the fourth round as he paws his jab consistently. Tapia attempts to come over top of Stephens attacks with an overhand. Stephens is light on his feet with Tapia looking to plant and throw heavy. Tapia starts to find his rhythm and picks up the action late in the round, landing some clean shots against his opponent as Stephens utilizes his footwork to get out of range and stay out of range, picking his shots from the outside of his opponent to close the round.

In the final round, Tapia knows he has to put it all on the line to get a chance for the win, and he marches forward with authority. Stephens looks to pop in and out from the outside and keep his range, but Tapia isn’t having any of it, gets Stephens against the ropes and goes to work with heavy punches, to the head and body of Stephens. The action slows and the fighters are ultimately separated. Both fighters reset and Stephens briefly goes on the attack. Both fighters land simultaneously which stop the other in their tracks, momentarily. Tapia presses the gas pedal with some heavy body shots, following by firing off an accidental kick to the groin (intended for the leg) that is unnoticed by the referee. Tapia looks to capitalize, sensing Stephens might be temporarily hurt and begins swinging heavily for the fences, looking for the late rally and to close the fight with authority.

In an action packed main event of the evening, Jason Stephens scored a majority decision, defending his Gut Check Championship Series 145lb title. Speaking with Stephens after the bout, the young, bright prospect says this about his performance: “After a long layoff I felt great about the victory. I was happy with my performance and I did what I said I was going to do, which was to shut down his gameplan and dominate the rounds.” When asked about if he was hurt in the later rounds and/or the severity, Stephens replies, “I wasn’t hurt in the 5th. I was trying to not engage too much in the last round because I knew I had to be up on the scorecards, so I just wanted to coast through the round. Chris caught me with a shot and thought I was hurt so he put more pressure on me but I was never in any trouble.”

Touching on the undefeated kickboxers next step, Stephens said: “The next step for me is to keep taking down the top guys in the division. I want to have more fights like this and get my name known across the country, then we will take it from there. Big things will be coming in the near future!”

In the Co-main event of the evening, Reggie Carter (Finishers MMA) took on Tomas Santiago (Rami Elite) in a high intensity, intense battle that had fans on their feet and cornerman filled with the heat of passion.

In the opening round, both fighters start trading heavily from the gate. Neither fighters wasted any time to feel the other out as both wanted to establish their game plan and dominance early as Santiago clinches and Carter wastes no time utilizing his inside elbows. Upon breaking the clinch, Santiago makes the adjustments to utilize his range. The Rami Elite pupil is setting up his teep kicks beautifully. However, Carter closes the distance and throws Santiago to the canvas. The fight resumes and Santiago keeps utilizing his height advantage to keep his opponent at bay, but Carter pressures heavily to close the distance to utilize the elbows in the clinch mixed in with a few knees from both fighters.

In the second round, Carter attempts to push the pressure early forcing Santiago to back pedal. Carter followed his foe inside where both fighters trade knees in the clinch. In the head of a knee exchange, Carter fires one low, and Santiago drops to the floor in pain from the knee straight to the groin. Santiago takes his time to recover with the encouragement of his trainer, Rami Ibrahim while back and forth banter from both camps starts making noise. A WKA official verbally warns both corners, and the fight continues. With limited time left on the clock, both fighters press the action and land efficiently with their attacks to close the round.

In the final round, both fighters begin swinging for the fences while working inside the clinch with relentless inside elbows. The elbows keep pouring on from both fighters until Santiago finally settles the action and begins mixing the knees with elbows while turning Carter several times to keep his aggressive foe guessing. Carter presses forward while Santiago is beginning to show signs of fatigue in the closing seconds, but remains in the fight as these two dominant strikers engage until the final bell.

After an all out brawl, the judges scored the bout a unanimous decision for Finishers MMA’s product, Reggie Carter.


Jason Stephens Def. Chris Tapia via Majority Decision.

Reggie Carter Def. Tomas Santiago via Unanimous Decision

Jamar McGriff Def. David Harr via 2nd round TKO (3 knockdown rule)

Jason Oakes Def. Juwan Gonzales via DQ (blows to the back of the head)

James Roberts Def. Ben Windle via KO

Heather Leon Def. Julie Keller via Majority Decision

William Delaney Def. Manuel Aguilera via Split Decision

George Byers Def. Khalil Buckley via Unanimous Decision

Evan Patrick Def. Fermin Ramos via Majority Decision

Ed Kotel Def Jake Sathmary via 3rd round TKO

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