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Review: 221 Industries hits nearly all the right notes with ICF 15

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"Sugar" Sean O'Malley stands over his fallen foe Ryan Ibsen at ICF 15 in Great Falls. Photo Courtesy 221 Industries
“Sugar” Sean O’Malley stands over his fallen foe Ryan Ibsen at ICF 15 in Great Falls. Photo Courtesy of 221 Industries

221 Industries billed Friday night’s ICF 15 as perhaps the best batch of fights the state has ever seen. It was a bold statement to make, but Cory Smith and crew backed it up on fight night with a captivating experience from the start to finish.

The scene was set with a packed house of at least 2,500 folks ready for an action-packed night of fighting.

The crowd got their money’s worth if only to watch Great Falls hero Tim Welch take down Ran Weathers with a guillotine submission 2 minutes and 18 seconds into the second round.

Smith, CEO of 221 Industries, said it was a gripping match and he wasn’t sure if Welch would pull it off or not.

“I was worried for him there for a little while,” he said. “Ran Weathers is a hell of a fighter and he gave it his all.”

Welch was in control for a good part of the fight, although Weathers held steady and was able to escape nearly all of Welch’s clutches and strikes. Weathers even got past having his face cut open by a punishing strike in the second round.

After the fight,Welch thanked Great Falls for supporting him over his career and said he was fighting for his friend Matt Cable, who’s been battling leukemia.

Cable has worked security for 221 and is an airman at Malmstrom Air Force Base. Cable’s health took a turn for the worse last week as he was admitted to the intensive care unit.

221 staffers were wearing colored wrist bands with “#cablestrong” written on one side and “F$#@! Leukemia” on the other. You can find out the very latest on Cable’s battle on his community Facebook page. 

Continuing in the giving spirit, Smith announced that more than $31,000 had been raised for Cascade County Deputy Joe Dunn’s family, who was killed during a high-speed chase Aug. 14. The center ring also featured a tribute logo to Dunn in honor of his memory.

Ty Vinson attempts to land a blow against his opponent Kenny Michaels at 221 Industries' ICF 15 in Great Falls. Photo courtesy of 221 Industries
Ty Vinson attempts to land a blow against his opponent Kenny Michaels at 221 Industries’ ICF 15 in Great Falls. Photo courtesy of 221 Industries

After the fights Smith said they made it a point to pay tribute to the fallen deputy.

“I used to be a police officer myself, and what happened to Joe Dunn, losing his life protecting us to keep us safe was such a huge sacrifice,” he said. “After tonight we will have something in our cage paying tribute to him forever.”

The shocker of the evening came after Ryan “Mongoose” Mulvihill took down Myles Mazurkiewicz with a submission just a little over a minute into the first round.

Smith said while he’s sure Myles is disappointed, it appears as if this is the kind of defeat that every fighter must endure in order to bounce back and be even tougher the next time out.

“Myles needed this loss,” Smith said. “Let me go on the record and say he needed it. I’m sure he’s pretty bummed out right now, but he’ll bounce back from this, I know it.”

Myles made the mistake of giving up his back while he was attempting to escape while on his bottom. Mulvihill quickly pounced on the opportunity and had Myles knocked out briefly for the win.

While it’s easy to believe that when you’re a fighter everyone you face is your enemy, that’s not always true.

While at the after-party, Myles and Ryan were bonding together in a way that you can’t help but like to see.

After Mullville won, he praised Great Falls, 221 Industries and God for helping him claim a victory.

Smith said now that Mullville has already beaten both Frank Ramsay and Mazurkiewicz, he’s not sure who he’ll have to face him, but that he will most definitely be asking the Spokane native and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu artist to return soon.

Mullville said he’s open to returning and said he doesn’t really care too much about who he’ll be facing.

Another up and comer who showed some real fortitude on Friday was 19-year-old Sean O’Malley of Helena, who successfully defended his amateur bantamweight title.

O’Malley whooped Ryan Ibsen, a fighter five inches taller than him, with a TKO after just 30 seconds into the first round.

His three hits to Ibsen’s head was enough to send him to the mat in one of the quickest matches of the evening.

Afterward, O’Malley said he knew what to expect from his opponent, having ran through it in his head hundreds of times before the match began.

Bob Sather announces fighters at 221 Industries' ICF 15 in Great Falls. Photo courtesy of 221 Industries
Bob Sather announces fighters at 221 Industries’ ICF 15 in Great Falls. Photo courtesy of 221 Industries

He also said rooming with Welch in Arizona and working out at the MMA Lab has given him a huge leg up.

“Being able to always be training has been such a great thing for me,” he said. “And actually I was probably more nervous for Tim while I was watching him than I was for my own fight.”

O’Malley said he’s grateful for his chance to learn from coaches such as Johnny Aho with Team Proven Grounds. 

“I wouldn’t have been able to get where I am now, just about to join MMA Lab if it wasn’t for my coaching and training I’ve had in Helena,” he said. “And 221 Industries is such a great organization to fight for, too. I feel like I have just as much support in my corner as do some of the people from Great Falls.”

And while there were many matches at ICF 14 that were called off because of a group of fighters who did not show up, the only real bit of controversy on Friday was regarding a match that did not happen.

The bout scheduled between Brandon Killam and Andrew Woodruff was scrapped because Killam left the ring as Woodruff was entering. He later said he did not think that his opponent was fighting at the required 185 pound weight limit.

After the fight, Smith posted a video showing Woodruff making weight, however.

All and all the evening had lots of action, plenty of touching tributes to people who have or are currently undergoing personal tragedies, and a whole lot of fun.

Sitting so close to the fighters was a thrill and there were moments where they were so close it was as if you were right in the cage with them.

One of the fellow journalists sitting next to me jokingly said while we were watching the action literally inches in front of us, “I’ll give you $1 if you give one of them a wet willy.” To which I responded with, “That’s worth at least $10, man.”

Smith was noticeably elated following the fights, saying he was more happy than he’s been in a long while. “It’s just awesome,” he said. “We’ve had such an outpouring of support and to see these fighters go at it the way they did, it was something special.”

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