Pay them to train, and they will come

When one has a dream, it is important that he stay on focus, enduring tenaciously, and seeing the dream out to fulfillment. Nearly two years ago, when Jeff Bonugli, with Charlie Clark at his side, took on the task of building a mixed martial arts event which would pay fighters to train, the bet was that it would fail. The idea of awarding a $50,000 contract to winning fighters with $2,500 doled out monthly to enable them to train, was indeed a grand gesture,  some reasoned, but it would surely fizzle out. This was the opinion of other mixed martial arts promotions, and they so informed those fighting for them.

Yes, it was a slow start.  One of the criticisms coming from seasoned fighters was that calling young fighters barely out of amateur status “champions,” after a win at the new promotion was down right preposterous. They raised the question, “who had these guys fought, anyway?”  The fact is that all great enterprises have a beginning, and JC Fight Promotions is no different. The first to fight in the promotion were barely tried or challenged.

That is rapidly changing. Better yet, as was evident at the last JC Fight Productions “Best of the Best” event in Brownsville the evening of 12 September, 2014, the change is here! Those who won in the beginning are either improving tremendously or getting out of the way, generally due to the fury and hunger of a better challenger. Indeed, more fighters hungry to get into the action are beginning to step up to the plate.

We have no better example of this than one  Brandon Farran, taking up the challenge against Best of the Best’s middle weight champion, Ryan Spann. Spann came into this match with a professional record of 5-0. At 6’5 inches tall and 178 pounds, champion or no champion, Spann is formidable, in anyone’s book. But Brandon Farran was not fazed, either by the discrepancy in height, or by Spann’s 5-0 record.  But then, Farran was coming into this event with a 12-7 record, and in this game, experience matters. A bunch.

This was evident from the beginning. Most often the challenger enters into the ring with a hopeful attitude. Yes, the butterflies show. But then, it is so even with the most experienced fighters.  Not so with Brandon Farran. This man exudes confidence! And it is evident he has a zest for life. Myself and Sam Cholico met him on the elevator with his retinue of relatives, and that meeting was most positive. This man is a winner inside or outside the cage. He came into the cage doing a curious little shuffle and step, to a not too loud, nor vulgar, tune.  It was catchy, the tune and his shuffle step, and pure confidence. And when the center ref gave the begin fight signal, Farran went right to work, wasting no time in taking the fight to the champion. Almost immediately he was inside the champion’s defenses, dropping him with a powerful right cross. The ref pulled him off in the midst of a blistering ground and pound attack, calling a TKO in 21 seconds of the first round.

The bar is being raised. Anyone holding the title of “champion” in this JC Fight  Production event is subject to challenge from any worthy fighter with the necessary credentials. That is, in that we now have a Brandon Farran with a 12-8 record, Jeff Bonugli will be looking for fighters in, or above that category. Brandon Farran is now training to fight whomever a worthy challenger may be, (as he has already been doing) but now he is being paid $2,500 per month to do so, having dispossessed Ryan Spann of his $50,000 contract. As the reader can readily see, with the upgrade of the champion’s  experience and skill level, so also is the bar raised for future challengers, and the championship belt takes on greater credibility.

One does not overlook Jammal Emmer’s match against Michael Rodriguez. In the last two matches we have seen  Emmers go to work with a thoroughly convincing and brutal body slam. TKO by punching, Sherdog may call it, but the fact is that the challenger was out cold when he hit the canvas.  This fight moves Jammal to a 7-1 status as a pro. That one loss was debatable, as it was a split decision. Emmers had four bouts as an amateur, all four a win. We will undoubtedly see more exciting action from this young man, who incidentally, was stripped of his title by the State because he came into this match one pound overweight.  While this means his next fight for JC Fight Productions will be a title shot rather than a defense of that title, the contract and the monthly stipend of $2,500 will not be affected by the State’s decision.

The challenger failed to show in what would have been Dee Jay Fuentes’ defense of his bantamweight title, so the audience was denied what would have been a very exciting match. David, who has an exciting stand up game, as well as being able to take the fight to the mat,  is very popular in the Rio Grande Valley, and will draw a crowd for the defense of his title in January.

One must understand that Jeff Bonugli’s goal is to feed fighters into the UFC.  Given what we are seeing, that day is coming,for more and more quality fighters are sitting up and taking notice that there is now an MMA event in Texas which puts winners on a $50,000 contract, with a $2,500 stipend monthly for training purposes. Put ’em on such a contract for being winners, and they will come. Ask the new middle weight champion, Brandon Farran.


Meeting the Challenge: Best of the Best II

DJ FuentesDid I say he would come in fighting? In earlier reports of the upcoming fight with the champion, Dee Jay Fuentes, I made the prediction that come what may, Jose Ceja would come into the fight with all barrels blazing. He did just that, in what appeared to be the most action packed fight of the night, in a night full of action packed fights, during JC Fight Promotion‘s “Best of the Best II”,  in Brownsville, Texas, last Saturday, June 14, 2014.

Smack talk, he had aplenty, until one of the State officials instructed the center ref, Jake Montalvo, to put a stop to Ceja’s verbal assault.  A bit controversial that, for we are talking fight, where smack talk is part of the psyche out. Ceja was much defiant, with smack talk and sneers followed up with a flurry of power packed punches. Yes, a bit of controversy in curtailing smack talk between battlers. Tell that to a Mike Tyson or a Roberto Duran. Take the smack talk from a Muhammad Ali, and what have you done? You’ve deprived the world of great poetical thought, as for example, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”  Where would the world be without the philosophical outbursts of Mike Tyson?  “My style is impetuous, my defense is impregnable, and I’m just ferocious. I want his heart! I want to eat his children!”  Profound.

mma1Not that it fazed Dee Jay, but it may have had a tendency to be disconcerting, when Jose showed no sign of slowing down. But then it happened, toward the end of the five minute first round. Just before another clash with the champion, Jose fell forward.  Most of those watching thought Jose had slipped, but as one who has an injured knee, I knew immediately that Jose’s knee had gone out, the result possibly of torn cartilage from an earlier injury. Well, there was an Achille’s heel uncovered, there for the taking.  Dee Jay didn’t waste any time. He attacked the knee with a kick.  Jose’s angry response was to revert to grappling, latching on to the champion and slamming him to the canvas immediately.  But he could not hold him, and like the champion he is, Dee Jay went to work at bringing Ceja to bay. Ceja fought back , attempting to stand toe to toe with the champion, and taking facial damage for it. It was not until the 4th round that Fuentes began to really get the upper hand. He was relentless in the attack,  driving his knee into Ceja’s  injured leg, and from there delivering punches and knees at will into a still very game Ceja’s face. When Ceja was no longer able to adequately respond, Jake Montalvo stepped in, to call the fight a TKO.

Jose CejaOne expects a thrilling fight from Dee Jay Fuentes, and he delivered, fighting like the champion he is, slowly but methodically chipping away at the challenger, Jose Ceja, until the moment Jake Montalvo stopped the fight, but for pure “never say die spirit”,  my hat is off to Jose Ceja, who certainly gave the champion a heck of a fight, as well as keeping the audience on the edges of their seats. After the fight, he approached Jeff Bonugli, proclaiming, “I didn’t lose that fight, Mr. Bonugli! I was still in the fight! I never quit! I was winning that fight!”

That game was lost when his knee went out. He was virtually crippled, and in the cage, no mercy is extended in seeking a win. Had the knee injury been to Dee Jay, Ceja would have been merciless as well. It is a tribute to Ceja’s courage that he fought so hard and well, despite the injury. Inasmuch as experience is a factor, this was an uphill battle for Jose Ceja. Most fighters pick their fights, taking on fights they feel sure to win. Most fighters, in their desire to build up a tally of wins, do not take on such a fight, with the odds so against them. Jose Ceja is not most fighters. Months ago, when a fighter was needed to step in and take on Rick Palacios, Jose Ceja did not flinch. Palacios had plans elsewhere. When a fighter was needed to take on the champion, Dee Jay Fuentes,  that fighter should have been Rick Palacios. That didn’t happen, ostensibly because of the emotional crisis in his life at the time. Without hesitation, Jose Ceja stepped up to the plate. He came to fight.

Jammal EmmersJammal Emmers did a masterful job in keeping his Championship Belt in his fight against the more experienced Chris Pecera. He fought like the winner he is, leaving no doubt he has used the past three months to train to remain the champ. At no time did he appear in any danger of being bested by  Pecera. And the body slams! In this, he owned Pecera. One cannot discount the psychological impact being slammed to the canvas time and again had on Pecera, nor does one discount their impact on those judging the fight.

In fairness  to Pecera, he took the fight on two weeks notice,  and there was the weight loss, which in the heat of the fight certainly had to affect him. Nonetheless, Emmer’s performance was top notch, and he looks to be JC Fight Promotion’s featherweight champion for the long haul.

Ray Banda, a Soryu Karate Purple Belt student of Jeff Bonugli, was very aggressive in his onslaught against  40 year old Daniel Duran, showing no mercy in his ground and pound attack, which brought the fight to an end as a TKO for Banda. Duran was certainly game, for almost three rounds, but to no avail. He was TKO’d in the third round

We expected much from Rick Palacios, but Joel Scott had a game plan, and followed it. It is no secret that El Gallero is a good stand up fighter. Six wins as an amateur by KO, two as a pro by KO, and one as a pro  boxer by KO; yeah, he has good hands, so to deny him the use of them is the game plan. This Joel Scott did with a quickly applied Kimura arm bar almost immediately in the first round. I applaud Ricky Palacio for the recognition he received in Florida, but I will tell you of the vulnerability incurred in fighting for such an organization. If you fight only Latino opponents, you are excluding a lot of outstanding competitors who are not Latino. It won’t fly, and Rick is realizing that. He also realizes that any loss needs to be viewed as a learning experience, and perhaps a wake up call. Joel Scott did what most of those fighting Ricky will be attempting to do, that is, deprive him of the use of his hands in a standup fight.  Rick will shrug off this loss, but we may suppose he will be working gabeon his ground game. And perhaps we will yet see a Dee Jay Fuentes, versus Rick Palacios, face off. That one will keep us on the edge of our seats.

Gabe Reynaga came out charging.  Reynaga, now 42 years of age, had done his homework. His trainer, Jason Yerrington, assured me of that. Reynaga’s hard charging stand up attack and a solid left ended the fight for Brandon Bradshaw early on.  Reynaga has worked his cardio, and every fight he has entered up to now reflects that, for in each he has gone the distance. This time his training paid off early in the fight.

The fight between heavyweights Javier Rendon and Raul Ponce ended early in the first round, when Jake Montalvo stopped the fight, given that Ponce was unable to adequately respond to Rendon’s ground and pound attack. Rendon was awarded the win.

The kick of the night had to go to Travis Joyner. Joyner has not fought since 2006, and was fighting a more experienced (in the cage) Joe Rodriguez. Knowing that Joyner is a Jiu Jitsu Black Belt, one would have expected a strong emphasis on a ground game from him. With that in mind, when it happened, that beautiful rear leg round house kick to Rodriguez’ head was totally unexpected. It was good. Very good. From where I was sitting at ringside, between Jason Yerrington and Louis Arnold, it appeared to have caught him on the side of the neck. It was solid. Joyner trains at Rudy Vasquez’ Soryu Karate Academy in Austin. Like his father before him, Joyner is an Austin Texas police officer. As an Austin Police Officer, he, and not anyone else, ought be running that department’s defensive tactics section, a position this writer held for five years,  long before Joyner was born. No one on that department has the qualifications to teach defensive tactics that Joyner has.  We shall see.

jeff bonugli“Best of the Best II” was an outstanding MMA event, with the hard work of Daniel Martinez and Jan Bonugli and their supporting cast much evident, in making noticeable improvements from one event to the next. The fighting was outstanding. Two champions, Dee Jay Fuentes and Jammal Emmers, retained their belts, and the $2,500 per month which goes with them, courtesy of JC Fight Promotion. They fought like champions, and will continue to improve as they train to meet future challengers. Indeed, the “Best of the Best” promises to get better, in order to fulfill the vision of Jeff Bonugli and his partner, Charlie Clark, speaker of fluent Spanish, and even a little English.

In a serious vein, let us remember that the event began with a prayer, invoking the Lord’s blessing on the participants, that none would suffer serious injury. And so it was, for which thing we are grateful. We compliment JC Fight Promotion for their determination to dedicate their event to Jesus Christ. It is inspiring to me, and it thrills me, to see each winner raise a finger to the air, and  hear them proclaim their gratitude to Jesus Christ. In each instance, in keeping with that proclamation, we see two fighters who have battled hard against each other, embrace after the fight. This is as it should be.  We thank you. The Lord is pleased.

[Pics courtesy of South Texas Contender]

JC Fight Promotions: Best of the Best II – A Proving Ground for South Texas Fighters

Luis “the Law” Vega, and D J Fuentes, will be on the same card, come June 14, 2014 at Hero Fighting Championship’s “Best of the Best II” hosted by JC Fight Promotions and Charlie Clark Nissan.

Vega will be fighting as a Featherweight in the main event, where he will be going up against Jamal Emmers, whoTexas Fighters will be conducting a first time defense of his Featherweight title.
Defending the title against a tough, and very hungry, Luis Vega, will require everything Jammal Emmers can bring into this fight. Those in the Valley who have witnessed Vega’s ability in a fight will be betting on him. Rest assured, this main event fight will be a memorable one.

Fuentes will be defending his Bantamweight title in the co main event fight against Jose Ceja. Fuentes is old school, stand up, karate kickboxing, with good hands, and devastating spin back kicks that those like myself so appreciate, having drilled such into students of bygone days. This will be a thriller to watch, and to watch closely. Outside the ring, Fuentes is Mr. Charisma, making friends with everyone. Once inside the ring, he is all business.

Among the remarks of commendation to be spoken about the challenger, Jose Ceja, is this; he doesn’t back away from a fight. In a business where fighters try to pick and choose their fights, he takes them as they come. There are those who will question the wisdom of such a determination on his part. “Look,” one will say. “Build up your reputation by taking on fights you can win. You’ll be gaining experience at the same time. What’s the rush?” There is much truth to that. On the other hand, Jose’s take is that you learn the most by taking on and fighting the best. Hurt? He’s been hurt. All fighters get hurt. But if you must get hurt, do so against the best. At 2-0 as an MMA Pro, and 1-0 as a pro boxer, he is coming into this fight as an underdog to take on the experienced and very tough Dee Jay Fuentes, just as he assented a year ago to an offer to fight an equally tough Ricky Palacios, in a fight which never materialized. In agreeing to take on D J, Ceja is taking on a versatile all around fighter. Ceja can box, Ricki Palaciosand comes to the cage eager to fight. He’ll get a fight against D J Fuentes.

Ricky Palacios will also be on this card. He has been fighting on a reality show “Combate Americas” and will be fighting Joel Scott of Beaumont. In a previous encounter, Palacios TKO’d Scott in the 3rd round of their fight. I have written about Ricky Palacios in the past, and of the much potential I see in him. He is a versatile fighter, with hands that thus far have spelled a KO for those who have faced him, in mixed martial arts or boxing. On this note, it is Palacios, and not Jose Ceja, who should have been meeting up with D J Fuentes. This, perhaps, will yet be a fight future.

Another up and coming fighter is a Jeff Bonugli student, Soryu Karate fighter Raymond Banda, who is currently 2-0 as a pro. He will face a strong opponent in Harlingen’s Daniel Duran. I mention Ray Banda because much is riding on him. Can a Soryu Karate trained fighter make good in MMA fighting? I believe he can, particularly if trained by Jeff Bonugli. As I have from the beginning envisioned Texas Soryu Karate, (and I differentiate it from its weak traditional parent in Japan) its parameters go far beyond traditional karate. I shall yet see that. Yes,
much is Jeff Bonugliriding on Ray Banda, but he can handle it. He carries on his shoulders the reputation, not only of Jeff Bonugli as his instructor and trainer, but mine as well, as Jeff Bonugli’s instructor.

We have heard Jeff Bonugli speak of his desire to see to it that fighters are rewarded financially for their hard work and sacrifices. This is true, and there are those who can attest to it, having been recipients of his willingness to give generously. And yet, I would suggest that there may some who would take advantage of such goodness. They have forgotten the value of a simple “thank you”. There is a Spanish saying: “Eres como el azadon, todo para aca’, y nada para alla’…” It translates roughly: “You are like a garden hoe, everything is scraped your way, and nothing goes back in return…” We get the picture, don’t we? Gratitude is a wonderful thing.

Consider that some very tough Valley fighters are in the offing. They are developing, and JC Productions is playing a vital role in such development. And this is it, a financial scholarship, $2,400 monthly for the aid of those who become the best of the best!

JC Fight Promotions - Best of the Best II

J&C Productions: “Go for broke”

Jeff Bonugli and Chris Lopez
[Jeff Bonugli and Chris Lopez]
The problem with a $50,000 contract is that it is a lot of money. When you tell a fighter he will be given $2,500 a month to help him train, it is to his mind, too good to be true. If they only knew that Jeff Bonugli has already helped some fighters do that very thing! Even their attitude has been, “too good to be true,” and they walked away from it. They’ve gone someplace else to take up the fight game, and we wish them well. For others, less money is more in tune with what they’re used to. For Jeff Bonugli, this has been most frustrating!

When you look at it with clear vision however, you will realize that this is no free ride. There is a catch, and this is that once you have the contract in hand, you have to work to keep it! It is what you’ve been doing all along, and that is train, train, train! You will be doing what you’ve always done, but now you’re being paid to do it. You win the contract because you have trained to be better than the rest. You keep the contract because now you train even harder, to stay on top. What is so hard to understand? You are being paid to devote yourself full-time to training! And on top of the $2,500 monthly fee will come any prize money won fighting for JC Promotions. In a word, only the best need apply.

So, you fight and you lose. You then lose the monthly stipend, right? Maybe. That’s what the contract says. Can there be an exception? If your fight turns out to be a slam banger, where you fought all the way through like the champ you are, and people were on the edge of their seats all the way through the three rounds, and the other fighter gets the nod, my guess is that Mr Bonugli will see it as instead of one champion in the ring, there were two, and he just isn’t gonna throw you to the dogs. He’ll want you on the next card. After all, in the MMA game, there are fighters and there are great fighters, and most great fighters have some losses under their belt, but they’re still great fighters.

Case in point is on the next card, and that’s Cody Williams. He’s had some losses, but Cody puts lots of substance onto any fight card, because losses notwithstanding, Cody is a winner, a champion. He’s a contributor to any card. He’ll take on the best, and when Cody gets into the game, if he doesn’t get it over quickly, there will always be one heck of a brawl. The likes of Cody Williams is what Mr. Bonugli is looking for on his cards. Think about that, you naysayers.

I have known Jeff Bonugli since the day he walked into my dojo in 1974. This thing about his wanting fighters to earn enough to live on, maybe that sounds corny to some, but I’m here to tell you that is how Jeff Bonugli operates. He means it. But again, he’s not giving any fighter something that fighter is not willing to work for. He’s about helping hungry fighters. And he is about exerting the type of influence which will cause other promoters to have to pay up. Look around you. You can see that is already happening, and you can thank Jeff Bonugli for that.

Yes, a week from now is payday in Harlingen. Jeff Bonugli sees this as a ticket for some hungry fighter to the UFC. It is up you really. When all is said and done, this is about attitude. Be an optimist. Believe in yourself and gear up mentally. Winston Churchill, that tough old British Bulldog who energized the fighting spirit of the British people during World War II, put it this way. “I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.” We wish you the very best. Go for broke. (Cristobal Lopez)

It’s Reckoning Time! Three Title Winners Will Each Get $50,000 Contracts

JC Productions
JC Productions: Jeff Bonugli, Charlie Clark, Chris Lopez

When Jeff Bonugli came to me in 1974, he was nineteen, fresh out of Canyon High School in New Braunfels, Texas. That took some guts in those days, as he was a White boy coming into what was at the time the rough area of town, into a dojo peopled by some as rough characters. Anyone who could fight in New Braunfels trained in my dojo. In the previous decade, New Braunfels had put out two Heavyweight Texas Golden Gloves champs, Robert Mesa and Cheche Rios. Jeff was very aggressive, and from the beginning was always in the winner’s circle. In between tournaments, he would lead others of my students to make fighting rounds to other schools in the San Antonio area. He, along with others of my future Black Belts took on jobs as bouncers in a local night club, where they could put their skills to work. Even as a Brown Belt, Jeff was entering and winning in the Black Belt Division, but in my mind, one of Jeff’s greatest fights, point or full contact, was at George Minschew’s Karate Olympics in Houston, around 1976. The fight was for the championship of the Heavyweight Green Belt Division, and Jeff was pitted against a powerful, and raw boned, Dino Holmsley out of Beaumont. With Dino as an opponent, Jeff was more than well matched. When I see the up and coming Ryan Spann, fighting in JC Productions “Best of the Best” mixed martial arts event, February 1, 2014, in Harlingen, I am reminded of Dino Holmsley. Ryan is the same kind of powerful fighter. My high estimation of Dino was not only in his versatility of technique, because he had that aplenty, but rather because he was also a skilled street fighter, and without question, very tough. In one of the hardest fought fights of the night Jeff came out on top, and in so doing, cinched my estimation of Jeff’s abilities. Dino was also a bouncer, and while in the performance of that duty, was killed breaking up a bar fight in a Houston nightclub. Dino Holmsley was as tough as they come. Nothing but respect for a true warrior to the end. Jeff applied his aggressiveness to business, eventually becoming General Manager of the largest car dealership in San Antonio, currently a partner of a large dealership in the Valley, and now JC Productions. His search for fighters willing to fight for $50,000 dollar contracts is a true fact. Jeff Bonugli, always a warrior, has shown all along that he truly cares for his fighters. The time of reckoning has arrived and, as any warrior, he plans to go down fighting.

J & C Productions
J & C Productions – The Best of the Best
Three $50,000 dollar contracts that will be going out to our Title Winners and a Brand New Car will be given out to someone in the Crowd that night.
For VIP table paper tickets please call Daniel with J&C Productions at 956-622-9053

Ricky “El Gallero” Palacios Making a Comeback for JC Productions “Texas Pride” MMA Event

jc promotionsA New and rejuvenated Ricky “El Gallero” Palacios is making his comeback in Beaumont Texas at the Montagne Events Center, with Jeff Bonugli’s JC Productions “Texas Pride” MMA event on Saturday, September 28. Comeback? Yes, following some tough times in his life, some of them self made, what follows now is a comeback. He’ll be fighting a very tough Jose Ceja who is currently 1-0 as a pro MMA fighter and 1-0 as a pro boxer, which will make for a very interesting fight, considering that El Gallero favors stand up, and boxing in particular. While I am personally a friend to both of these boys, the odds stand in Ricky’s favor, but by no means should he be complacent. Jose will come to fight, and he comes undeterred by the stats, which show Ricky 6-0 as an amateur, 2-0 as a pro, and 1-0 as a boxer, all fights won by KO. In Jose’s favor is the fact that he can box. I’m partial to either of these boys. Expect a slug fest. I would be very surprised if either of these boys take the fight to the mat.