‘Punch him in the face!” is what Whitehorse’s Miller Rogers heard from his corner while struggling to get his opponent into a choke.
Although the most basic of tactics, it did the trick.
“I was fighting for the rear naked choke and he was defending it, then all they said was, ‘Punch him in the face,’” said Rogers. “I hit him once, he brought both of his hands up to defend his face. As soon as he did that, I sneaked one arm under. Then he was defending that, so I punched him again and he loosened up. I got my grips in – got my hold.
“I felt the will go out of him. He’s a good fighter and a real nice guy, and we congratulated each other at the end of the fight.”
The 20-year-old from Whitehorse’s Avalanche MMA fought his way to his second amateur win at Caged Rage 5, a mixed martial arts competition in Castlegar, BC, on Saturday. Rogers, who fights in the 155-pound class, now has a 2-0, undefeated record.
“It was awesome,” said Rogers. “I executed our game plan and everything went as planned. He was a little stronger than I was expecting, but it wasn’t anything too difficult to deal with. I just adjusted a little bit to it and used his own strength against him because he tired himself out.
“The adrenaline rush keeps you going all night.”
In front of a crowd of about 400, Rogers defeated Calgary’s Shane Erickson, who also went into the fight with a 1-0 fight record, four minutes, 10 seconds into the first round with a rear naked choke.
“We found out he’s a Muay Thai fighter, so lots of stand-up, lots of kicks,” said Cliff Schultz, owner/operator of Avalanche MMA and Rogers’ corner-man at Caged Rage. “So we told him to utilize the cage, stay to the outside. And he ended up working out the plan quite well.”
After touching gloves, Erickson charged and connected with a kick on Miller -“It hurt. It was solid and fast,”- who returned with a couple strikes. “I almost turned it into a brawl, but I calmed back down, got back into my mindset.”
Miller was then ready for Erickson’s second kick, seizing his leg and taking him to the mat.
“By the time he got his foot off the ground, I was in there on his leg, pushing him against the fence,” said Rogers.
After some back-and-forth, Miller wormed his way out of a deep guillotine choke.
“It wasn’t too deep for Miller; he ended up pulling out of that after about a minute,” said Schultz.
Miller then avoided an attempted arm-bar hold by Erickson, stepping over him, pushed him against the fence. He got Erickson into a guillotine and then a triangle hold, which Erickson tried to break free of by lifting and slamming Miller. But Miller held Erickson’s leg, and the two toppled together. In the fall Miller took his own knee in the face.
“I gave myself a little cut over the eye, but it looks good,” said Rogers.
After the fall Erickson went into the turtle position, but Miller flattened him out and locked him in the rear naked choke.
Rogers got his first win at Warpath Mixed Martial Arts in Chilliwack, BC, on September 2, defeating Allan “Little Bear” George from in Duncan, BC. In the fight George, who had an undefeated 2-0 record going in, was saved by the bell at the end of Round 1. But Rogers took the win 1:01 into Round 2 with a triangle choke.
Celebrating only its first anniversary next month, Avalanche MMA now has a 5-0 record.
Rogers was one of four Avalanche fighters at Warpath last month, all of whom were victorious. (Also getting wins were Schultz, by unanimous decision, TJ Woodman in the second round and Stefan Brynjolssfon in the first round.)
Avalanche MMA will be attempting to keep its undefeated record going at Warpath 3 on December 2 in Chilliwack, BC.
So far Schultz (1-0) and Woodman (3-0) are scheduled to fight in Warpath 3, but Avalanche expects four to six members in total to get on the fight-card. (Rogers might go for his third win.)
“I’m going to talk to the rest of the fighters here to see how many of them would like to go too,” said Schultz.
“We’ve been fairly busy; we have a lot of people coming in, there’s a lot of interest now. It’s pretty exciting.
“Now having the gym at 5-0, we’re starting to make a name for ourselves down south.”
Rogers began focusing on MMA training when Avalanche opened last November in Riverdale. Though he has abundant gratitude for the gym, he hasn’t forgotten the support he’s received from outside Avalanche.
“We can’t do it without the people; it’s not a sport unless people are watching it,” said Rogers. “I wouldn’t have been able to make that fight if it wasn’t for everyone who came out to the (October 1) fundraiser. I wouldn’t have done it without my parents, who let me take time off work – they support me 100 per cent, and it helps to have people behind you.”
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