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.


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Mr. Lopez

Chris Lopez began his training in Martial Arts in early 1967. He served as the defensive tactics instructor for the Austin Police Department from 1969-1974. For nearly forty years he's trained kickboxers, boxers, and karateka's in his dojo. He is a 10th Dan, the head of Texas Soryu MMA, and retired from the US Army.