Below is a review of Combat Sports Challenge 23 by 5 Oz. reader Jason Guard (aka “JayDog).

CSC 23 featured 5 Oz. sponsored fighter LeVon Maynard, who was victorious in the night’s co-main event when he submitted veteran Jay R. Palmer in the first round.

Video of LeVon’s fight is available by clicking here and additional photos can be found by clicking here.

By Jason Guard
Special to FiveOuncesOfPain.com

LeVon Maynard came into his second professional fight against a much more experienced fighter in Jay R. Palmer, with nearly 40 fights to his name. The Combat Sports Challenge hosted both fighters in a co-main event that ironically showed Maynard displaying veteran form while Palmer fought with nearly the same zeal that typified his acclaimed slugfests. Also on hand was Jens “’Lil Evil” Pulver, promoting a partnership with a Richmond based martial arts training center, Combat Sports.

The event was the first night of fights to be shown at Toad’s Place, a brand new music venue in Downtown Richmond, Va. Combat Sports Challenge intends to promote regular MMA and Muay Thai fight cards at Toads Place. The near capacity crowd of 1000-plus was clearly encouraging.

The promotion will have some help in Jens Pulver, who intends to relocate to Richmond in June, after fighting Urijah Faber for the WEC featherweight title. The WEC fighter and former UFC lightweight champ says that he’ll be conducting classes and the gym will be renamed the “Pulver Combat Sports Center.”

Team Combat, responsible for the training of nearly half of the fighters on the card, also announced that they hoped to gain the attention of the UFC by continuing to put on shows under the Combat Sports Challenge moniker with increasingly higher profile fighters. This night’s card featured mostly Virginia based competitors against fighters from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Between the eight amateur fights, and five professional bouts, the Virginians managed to turn away the visitors’ “northern aggression” with a total of nine victories. The next CSC is planned for Toad’s Place on March 15th and Jeff Curran will be a special guest (but I couldn’t find the line up anywhere online).

Maynard also had some high caliber help. Erik Paulson could be seen in Maynard’s corner during the fight. Paulson’s submission specialty (8 subs in 11 wins since 1993) would come in handy on this evening against a wild-fighting Palmer who has lost nine fights due to submission, clearly preferring the “stand and bang” style of his Tae Kwon do background.

The fight starts and Palmer, true to form, charges Maynard at the sound of the bell swinging wildly. Maynard backs up toward his corner, moving his head, avoiding mostly glancing blows. Maynard throws a few of his own and the fighters clinch. Quickly, Maynard presses forward using his superior strength and trips Palmer to the mat, landing on top in full mount. In total control, Maynard sits up in a high mount, trying to free his hands of Palmer’s desperate grip. Punches start reigning down from Maynard until Palmer rolls over, giving up his back.

Palmer, now turtled on the canvas has Maynard wrapped tightly around his back, hooks in and landing shots to the sides of Palmer’s head. Maynard works a hand around the neck of Palmer while slowly flattening out the veteran fighter. As Palmer struggles valiantly, both fighters roll, with Maynard maintaining back control and continuing to work for the rear naked choke. Maynard looks calm throughout, while Palmer struggles to free himself of the rear mount. Just as Palmer begins to twist away, Maynard throws a leg over his face and jerks Palmer’s right arm into near hyperextension and the fight ends with an armbar submission.

After the fight, LeVon Maynard was jubilant, sporting a FiveOuncesofPain.com t-shirt, and running through a list of thank-yous, including one for Palmer, who had taken the fight on 10 days notice. Maynard struck poses and worked a crowd that was clearly excited to have been present for his victory. Before relinquishing the mic, Maynard paused to relay a message to the audience, “Live with a strong spirit. That’s the only way to live.”

Maynard was especially appreciative of the crowd support. “Just coming out into the ring, all the people that were there to support me yelling for me and giving me “props” — I felt like I won the match before I got into the ring. It was a great feeling and in turn I think it allowed me to but on one of my best performances,” Maynard said in an e-mail to FiveOuncesOfPain.com’s Sam Caplan.

Maynard’s positivity may be a harbinger of things to come. Although LeVon has had some difficulty arranging professional fights at this point in his career, his star is clearly ascending. A victory over Palmer, who’s highlight reel is burned into the minds of many MMA fans, will surely inspire those influential in the industry to take notice.

The final fight on the card featured pro-fighters Nelson Sobral, from Canada, and Dwayne “Diesel” Shelton, from Richmond’s Team Combat. After Sobral entered the ring to a song by Soundgarden, Diesel walked to the ring to the tune of Morrisey’s “Irish blood, English heart.”

Shelton suffered three losses in his first three matches, all to current UFC fighters; Cole Miller, Joe Veres, and Din Thomas. The tough road for Diesel may have induced some melancholia, but Shelton is clearly on the upswing, winning his third consecutive fight with a first round victory over Sobral.

After the fight, an excited Shelton exclaimed that he was “ready for a drink,” as he pulled on his “Jesus Didn’t Tap” t-shirt and encouraged the crowd to meet him at the bar for the after-party.

At the close of the show, most of the fighters streamed out of the venue, presumably to change clothes at their nearby hotel. On my way out, I ran into LeVon Maynard and introduced myself after congratulating him on a job well done. I was lucky enough to get his picture holding the trophy for his victory.

Eventually, I resume my preparations for a bike ride at near freezing temperatures and say goodbye LeVon Maynard, probably the nicest professional fighter I ever met (and yes, the first one I met, too, but don’t let that diminish the compliment).

Click here for more information on LeVon Maynard.