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ICF 20 came off as 221 Industries’ most competitive fight card to date

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Johnson Nasona and Theron Martin battle at ICF 20 last week in Great Falls. Photo courtesy of Get the Picture Photography

Now, before we begin, you might be asking yourself…why are you reviewing an event that happened more than a week ago?

And I’d say even though the event has long been over, my thoughts about it are still as relevant today as they were last Saturday.

Plus, given the fact that this event, 221 Industries’ ICF 20, may have been the best fight card the promotion has ever thrown, it’s worth touching on to find out why and how they did it.

While I haven’t attended all of the ICFs, this was likely the most entertaining one I have attended thus far. Nearly all of the matches had something intriguing happen, be it the amateur undercard fights, the amateur main event fights or the professional fights toward the end of the evening.

Daniel Aguare and Ryan McCracken tangle on the ground at ICF 20. Photo courtesy of Get the Picture Photography
Daniel Aguare and Ryan McCracken tangle on the ground at ICF 20. Photo courtesy of Get the Picture Photography

The best fight of the evening came between Daniel Aguare and Ryan McCracken, which was a title fight for the 170-pound belt.

The fight could have gone in either direction, especially early  on. They both landed solid punches, with the highlights being Augare’s solid wallop that put McCracken on his back in the second round, and then McCracken recovering to land a punishing knee to Augare’s side. Both fighters were visibly in pain, but yet neither relented and held strong the best they could. It was intense seeing two skillful athletes go toe-to-toe and watching it unfold where anything could have happened.

Augare eventually won after battering McCracken’s head with a barrage of punches in the fourth round to regain his title belt.

The tone of that fight was completely different from that of one of the other best fights of the evening that pitted Seattle native Johnson Nasona vs. Montana’s Theron Martin for the 145-pound title belt.

Nasona started the night in full control and by the end it appeared as if he barely broke a sweat. As his corner yelled out instructions, Nasona would execute them with ease. He was having his way with Martin all fight.

By the middle of the fourth round, Martin was taking more abuse than even his corner could handle and they threw in the white towel to signal the end of the match.

Ref Terrill Bracken watches as Leo Bercier finishes off Adam Lambert at ICF 20.
Ref Terrill Bracken watches as Leo Bercier finishes off Jason Lambert at ICF 20.

Whereas both Augare and McCracken finished their fight bruised and battered, Nasona looked as if he hadn’t even been scratched after his, despite the fact that his opponent was at the time the top Montana amateur featherweight MMA fighter and went into last week’s fight with a perfect 8-0 record.

The sparks continued to fly with the first professional match that pitted Leo Bercier against Jason Lambert of Oregon.

Things got started quickly with Lambert connecting with an explosive right hook right to Bercier’s head. Bercier responded like a champ, however, and unleashed a barrage of punches himself that ended with Lambert down on his back. As the ref separated the fighters, there was some 10 seconds left in the round, but it didn’t matter as Lambert broke his foot and was finished.

Bercier afterward addressed the crowd, saying “Thank you Great Falls for supporting me for so long. I’ve been doing this along time and what comes with age is wisdom and power. All I can hope to do is hit them before they hit me because my face has seen a lot of damage.”

The final fight of the evening saw “Sugar” Sean O’Malley rip through  Omar Avelar in the first round. Avelar couldn’t get much started, with O’Malley continuing to show why he’s thought to be one of the hottest pro MMA fighters for 221 Industries. It did seem a little peculiar that Avelar, a Washington-based fighter, going up against 5’11” O’Malley when he stands at a compact 5’5″. However, they were both fighting in the same weight-class, but the difference in size between the two of them was noticeable, especially up close.

The crowd support continues to grow for O’Malley, thanks in part to the 221 Industries’ promotion of him. It just felt a little blatant when, in between fights, they had four people wearing O’Malley t-shirts inside the ring picking raffle numbers and the announcer asking them “Who is your favorite MMA fighter?” and all of them responding “Sean O’Malley.”

It felt orchestrated and awkward. I’d much rather that they let O’Malley’s popularity grow organically rather than using the center ring to push his support onto the audience. However, it’s their choice to do whatever they want, so, if it’s working for them to promote him in that way, well, then, they should probably stick with it.

Finally, some of the other highlights included the matchup between Tony Shurts and Mark Wirth that saw Shurts lose via decision after taking many pounding shots to his leg.

James Ogden defeated Cameron Montgomery with several impressive moves, including a pulsating body slam that he transitioned into a ground-and-pound that forced a stoppage early in the first round.

And lastly, Helena’s Dylin Drivdahl continued to show outstanding progress as a teenage phenom. With more than six amateur wins to his credit, he looks poised to blossom into a professional fighter much in the same way O’Malley has done. It also helps that both fighters come from the same gym and that Drivdahl’s athletic prowess is second to none.

Last week he took some hard punches from Anthony Curtis but wrapped him up in a submission move and forced him to tap.

If 221 Industries can continue to provide this level of competition, their success will continue to grow. It wasn’t a perfect night by any means, but it was entertaining, there was a lot of action, violence and competition to go around, and it felt like with nearly all of the fights you didn’t quite know who would win.

You can see more 221 Industries action on Oct. 16 with ICF 21 featuring an all-female fight card.

For more information, check them out on Facebook here. Special shout out to Get the Picture Photography for allowing us to use their incredible images of last week’s event!

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