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Team Link Fighter to Semi-finals at Bellator Middleweight Tournament

Perry Filkins defeats Jeremy Kimball at Bellator

Perry Filkins defeats Jeremy Kimball at Bellator

Looking to train MMA in the Springfield MA area. Team Link is the only school in Western Mass to have fighters in the UFC and Bellator. Go to for more info on training.

This is how the fight went down. Perry Filkins fought through three tough rounds against Jeremy Kimball and was able to walk out of the middleweight tournament opening round with a very late submission victory over Jeremy Kimball.The fight opened with a flurry of punches by both Kimball and Filkins with Kimball getting the better of the exchange. Kimball continued to work the leg kicks early to keep Filkins away from him. Filkins eventually started using a left hook to counter the low leg kicks.As the midway point of the first round drew both fighters started slowing down a bit. Kimball still continued to use his leg kicks to keep Filkins away from being overly aggressive. As Filkins tagged Kimball, Kimball shoot in and scored a take down, but wasn’t able to do anything with it. As the round came to a close Kimball shoot in again and put Filkins to the mat. Once again, Filkins got right back up off of his feet and continued his aggressive striking but was eventually taken down again. The round finished with both fighters standing and trading blows and a final take down by Kimball. To open up the second both fighters continued the aggressive onslaught. Kimball once again tried working a take down, even using some foot stomps, but wasn’t able to secure anything. As the round wore on, Filkins scored a nice take down on Kimball and started working a nice half guard but eventually Kimball worked out of it and grabbed a jumping guillotine. Filkins defended and slammed him to the mat before he could sink it in. As the second round came to a close both fighters were exchanging heavy blows when Kimball went for another take down which Filkins reversed and grabbed full mount. With seconds left Filkins kept hammering blows but was unable to stop him as time ran out. The final round opened with both fighters once again exchanging. The pace clearly slower this go around with the late flurry in the last round. As the round wore on neither fighter was really engaging at all. Midway through Filkins started to land some strikes which was pushing Kimball back against the cage. Filkins seeing that Kimball was tiring went in for a sloppy take down and landed in full-guard. After a couple minutes of working Filkins grabbed Kimball’s back and went for a rear-naked-choke with about a minute left. After a few seconds of posturing, Filkins was finally able to secure the tap and the victory. Perry Filkins improved to 8-1 with the win and most importantly advances to the next round in the Bellator middleweight tournament.


Before Fighting Was Ultimate It Was Super : Western Mass MMA

Tough Guy Contest

Tough Guy Contest

The ballroom of the Holiday Inn in New Kensinton, Pennsylvania was filled to capacity with fight fans who were more than pleased with what was being demonstrated in the ring. Mike Murray, a car salesmen from Vandergrift, Virginia and Dave Jones, a road gang laborer from nearby North Huntingdon, were in the final round of their match, the opening contest of the evening. It had been a back-and-forth affair for most of its three rounds, with a surprising amount of wrestling for two standup fighters: Murray claimed a boxing background while Jones dabbled in karate and kickboxing. As the clock wound down the fighters, along with the spectators, were back on their feet. Jones was now turning it up, unloading a series of vicious kicks and punches that went unanswered from his dazed and damaged opponent. With only seconds remaining in the fight Murray’s corner threw in the towel, saving him from any more punishment. The audience roared in approval.

Scenes such of this can be found all across America on any given day of the week, but what makes this particular contest noteworthy isn’t the results, the participants, or the fight itself, but the date it took place. March 20th, 1980.


One evening in late 1979 Mike Viola and Frank Caliguri were having dinner together at a Denny’s Restaurant when they came up with an idea that not only changed their lives but came very close to changing the history of mixed martial arts. The two men had become friends and business partners thanks to their shared background and interest in martial arts. Both held black belts in Shotokan karate as well as owned and taught at their own schools: Caliguri’s Academy of Martial Arts and Viola’s School of Shotokan Karate (which also included boxing and kickboxing in the curriculum). For the past few years they had been working together promoting kickboxing events around Western Pennsylvania, and it was this business they were discussing over hamburger and coca-cola when the conversation turned towards the common misconceptions the layman had about martial arts and what they were really interested in seeing.

To the patrons at the bars they visited to promote their shows there was heard the common refrains: that karate or wrestling was a fraud. That the fighters on the card where “bums” whom their detractor could beat up. What was better? Karate, boxing, or wrestling? Who would win if Mohammed Ali fought Bruce Lee? How about either against Bruno Sanmartino? Could I do better than those guys?

Thumbhall_mediumThe two were suddenly struck by an idea. What if we let the average guy try his hand at fighting? To prove that he was as tough or tougher than any of these so-called experts? And what if we let them use whatever style they wanted? Wrestling, boxing, karate, whatever. Finally, people could start to settle the age-old debates of what worked best in a fight.

The two knew they had come up with something special and shortly thereafter they co-founded CV Productions (C or Caliguri and V for Viola) with which to promote their new venture. With his experience and familiarity with karate, kickboxing, boxing, Judo and Japanese jujutsu Viola was chosen to write up the rules, which he quickly did from his home, coming up with an eleven-page book covering almost every aspect of the newly created sport. Fights would take place over three 2-minute rounds during which almost all techniques or styles of martial arts were permitted, including ground fighting and judo/jujutsu or pro wrestling submission holds. Rules were also instituted to cover weight classes, open fingered safety gloves, headgear, ring side doctors, back stage physicians, professional referees, judges scoring, fighter contracts and the banning of certain attacks such as eye gouging and groin strikes.


With the debut of what they were calling a “Tough Man Contest” booked for March of 1980 the two men began making the rounds to local bars and gyms. They were in search of the “toughest street fighters alive” to compete in what was being billed as “Anything Goes – striking, throwing, grappling, punching, kicking, ground fighting, and more”. All participants were also to be amateurs. Experienced boxers or martial artists above green belt were banned from taking part.

Early on it came to their attention that a Michigan promoter by the name of Art Dore was already hosting amateur boxing events at this time under the title “Toughman Contests.” Viola and Caliguri immediately changed the events name to that of the “Tough Guy Contest” in order to avoid any confusion. (Unfortunately, it didn’t work as well as planned and this confusion over names would eventually come back to haunt them.)

Word of the event spread and the two were surprised to find themselves being flooded with queries from interested parties. Where before they would get 100 phone calls asking questions about an upcoming kickboxing show, within the first week alone they got 1500 calls concerning Toughguys. As Viola recalled years later, “They were from Yonkers, NY. They were from Michigan, Florida. The word got out and it just went totally out of control. We had to actually hire secretaries. (Before that) we were nothing. We were just mom-and-pop karate schools.”

Besides adding secretaries to their staff, Viola also left his job teaching science at Allegheny High School in order to promote and organize the event full time. Such was his confidence in its appeal.

The first “Tough Guy Contest” show was a 3-day event, taking place on the 20, 21, and 22 of March and consisting of two 8-man tournaments to crown the “Toughest Guy” in the heavyweight and lightweight divisions. The winners would also receive $1000 and the chance to participate in the as yet unscheduled state-wide Tough Guys championships.

The show, which had the tag-line “The Real Thing in the Ring”, was kicked off by the previously mentioned Jones/Murray contes. The event, as described by the News Dispatch, sounded very familiar to long time fans of MMA.

The contestants “all wore contact karate gear and were permitted to employ any style fighting within prescribed limits. The results were spectacular. Some punched, some kicked, some grappled, but all gave their best effort.” A five-foot-six-inch, two hundred forty pound truck driver wrestled his way to victory over a much taller, two-hundred-pound mechanic that tried to box him. Two fighters named “Mad Dog” and “Crazy Jack” engaged in a wild, slugfest. Another fighter came out in a trench coat beneath which he had concealed an array of weapons. He then proceeded to slide various chains, billy clubs, and a tire iron across the ring to his opponent, telling him “you’ll need this… you’ll need this…” The ring girls, Margie, Mary Kay, Kathy, and Gloria, became the objects of adulation amongst the fans. And, after the fights, “once the bell rang, the men would shake hands, pat each other on the back and embrace each other.”

“I’ve never seen anything like it.” said one spectator. “I’ll never go to another wrestling match if I can got one of these instead.”

The event sold out all three consecutive nights. Tough Guys, or Super Fights as they soon rechristened it, was a hit.

“It was the birth of what many are calling a new sport” announced the News-Dispatch. “A sport that blends elements of boxing, wrestling, and brawling.”

Viola and Caliguri immediately began planning not only the next event, but many more to follow. The idea now was to hold a series of regional tournaments, eliminators, before concluding with a Tough Guys finals.

Super Fighter shows followed in quick succession: “the Battle of the Brawlers” was held on April 18th at the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh, followed by an even more successful “Battle of the Tough Guys” on May 2nd and 3rd which drew crowds of 6,000 both nights to the Cambria Country War Memorial Arena in Johnston, Pennsylvania.

Shortly thereafter KDKA Television’s Evening Magazine did an in-depth report on the “Battle of the Brawlers”, in which they labeled it “organized, legalized, street fighting.”

With success following success the two now looked to expand by holding their next show at the Philadelphia Convention Hall and Civic Center. As was usual the event, titled “Battle of the Superfighters” consisted of two 8-man tournaments, one for lightweights and one for heavyweights, spread out over several nights

Philadelphia-daily-news-1980_mediumThe show, which received extensive coverage in the Philadelphia papers, wasn’t as successful as their previous events, drawing only a little more than a thousand per night, but it provided a couple of very valuable answers. One, it proved that they could draw outside of their Pittsburgh home base. Viola and Caliguri always had faith that it would be embraced by the public, citing the “realism factor” as its chief appeal (although one spectator at the Convention Center gave a simpler reason, “you can’t see this many fights in any bar I know”) They had been proven correct again, and were now confident that Super Fighters could be taken anywhere and find an audience. It was time to take it to the next level.

The other lesson learned that evening was provided by Len Pettigrew, a former Eagle’s defensive end, who took part in the heavyweight tournament and ripped through the competition. Although technically an amateur with no martial arts training to speak of, he was too fast, too strong, and too athletic for his opponents. It was now obvious that it would be impossible to keep the tournament strictly for amateurs. Not only had past contestants expressed interest in fighting again, but there was also a desire to see the best in other sports – boxing, wrestling, judo, kickboxing – try their hands in no holds barred competition. The only solution would be to create a professional division.

Big thing were now in the works. Caliguri and Viola founded the World Martial Arts Fighting Association (WMAFC) to sanction competitors and rank fighters for what was to be a professional division of Super Fighters. They also drafted documents to franchise the league and began negotiating television contracts. Preparations were made for a national Super Fighters tour in 1981. in which they anticipated fifty such elimination events around the country, with Phoenix, Louisville, Rochester, Boston, and Philadelphia already being scheduled. The finales would be held in either Atlantic City or Las Vegas, with the championship match being broadcast live on network television and the winner awarded $100,000. Attorney James Irwin was retained to negotiate the television deal. Big-time (relatively speaking) sponsorship was now coming in.


“Battle of the Tough Guys is a legitimate sport and not just a passing fad…” was the opinion given by Jim Isler of the News-Dispatch following their October event. It seemed as if nothing could stop Super Fighters from becoming the major sport that Caliguri and Viola had been certain it was destined to be.

On November 6, the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission ordered CV Productions to cancel that evening’s show in Greensburg. If they did not the PSAC threatened to have the police shut it down for them. Caliguri and Viola chose to ignore this command, confident that the Commission had no jurisdiction over their competitions. The shows went on as planned that weekend but now they had attracted the the attention of state officials. Not wishing to antagonize the commission any further they refrained from more shows until the matter could be sorted out. In the meantime they focused on their big plans for the next year.

Disaster struck in March of 1981, when 23-year-old Ronald Miller was killed participating in a “Toughman” boxing competition in Johnstown. The name had come back to haunt them. Even though the event had no connection whatsoever to Super Fighters or CV Productions, Inc. most were unable to distinguish this fact and newspaper even mistakenly identified his death as having taken place in a “Tough Guy” competition. Miller’s death and the outrage that followed led to the Pennsylvania Legislature launching an investigation into all fighting events. After careful consideration and considerable legal consultation,Viola and Caliguri put a hold on promoting events while they waited out the storm. But there would be no lull. In 1983, the Pennsylvania State Senate passed a bill that specifically called for:


It would go on to define this to mean any competition in which individuals “attempt to knock out their opponent by employing boxing, wrestling, martial arts tactics or any combination thereof and by using techniques including, but not limited to, punches, kicks, and choking.”

After less than a year in activity and over 10 events held across the state of Pennsylvania, Super Fighters was no more. It would be over a decade before another promotion would try and bring an “Anything Goes” fighting league to the United States. They would succeed, giving birth to a new sport, while Mike Viola and Frank Caliguri and their Super Fighters would be forgotten having been too far ahead of their time.



“Tournabout has a Ring to It” from June 13, 1980 Philadelphia Daily News

“Dan ‘Irish’ O’Brien versus ‘Outlaw’ Wade Miller” from June 13, 1980 Philadelphia Journal

Warrior Nation XFA Puts on Another Great Show – Team Link’s Nick Berube Wins

Our friends at Warrior Nation put on yet another great show this past Friday August 24, 2012 at the Hu Ke Lau in Chicopee, MA. I don’t know about what you enjoy, but I certainly like the fact I get the opportunity to eat a great meal and watch MMA in Western Mass.  The show went off with out a hitch, except when they needed to fix the floor of the ring because during a match there was a massive body slam that broke wood sub-flooring . That take down was well worth the wait between matches for them to fix it.

Initially Team Link had 4 fighters on this card, in fact we had the main event, but because of injuries and other issues it went down to only 1. That is ok, it is all part of the game. Well Nick Berube, from Team Link NH, did a great job and won his match by decision. He is a great fighter and has great coach, Alexandre “vaca” Moreno, who has been working with for years.

I would like to thank Jesse Camp and Tom Gomes for all there hard work they put into that event to bring to us the fans a quality show. I can’t wait for next one.

UFC Heavyweights from New England: MMA Training Springfield, MA

UFC Heavyweights Gabriel Gonzaga & Christian Morecraft

On the evening of Wednesday August 8, 2012 Team Link in Ludlow MA was filled with talent. Not only did you have the East Coast’s only UFC heavyweight fighters,  there was also 7 Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belts together in one gym. Ludlow is a small town in Western Mass for which Team Link MMA and soccer are two main things it is known for. (on a different note, Thursday August 9, 2012 the Stanley Cup was in Ludlow because the LA Kings General Manger, Dean Lombardi, grew up there….cool!) Having the opportunity to witness this type of training is incredible, the place was shook as almost 3,000 pounds of skilled fighters went at it. Most of whom that were there are also preparing for there own fights that will be happening in the very near future. For a full listing of these fights click this link MMA classes Springfield MA

Gabriel Gonzaga is preparing for UFC 153, which will be held in his home county on October 13, 2012 at the HBSC Arena in Rio de Janeriro, Brazil. He will be  facing Geronimo Dos Santos, a powerful new comer to the UFC. With the start of Gonzaga’s official training camp, Team Link is always able to pull together a group of great athletes to push each other to there limits and beyond. In fact the East Coast’s only UFC Heavyweights both currently live and train in Massachusetts.  It was great to these two cross train together. Rumors say this may be common re-occurrence, we will see.

If you ask around a common problem for heavyweights when looking for a gym to train mma in Springfield MA area or anywhere for that matter, is finding quality sparring partners their size. This is not case with Team Link, being the largest team in New England with over 10 ten gym locations, there are plenty of big guys ready to go on the drop of hat. If you live in New England and you are looking for a place to train or if you are a fighter and want to come train with the best, then contact them via there website .

MMA instruction Springfield MA

Team Link Professional MMA Fighter Training Camp : Ludlow MA

The photo above shows as listed from left to right: James Soffen (Team Link Manager), Christian Morecraft (UFC Heavyweight), Darrell Oliveira (Team Link Heavyweight), Master Marco Alvan (Team Link Head Coach/2nd Degree Blackbelt), Ricardo Oliveria (Team Link Spain/2nd Degree Blackbelt), Fabio Serrao (Team Link Utah/MMA Fighter/Black Belt), Juliano Coutinho (Cape Cod Fighting Alliance MMA Fighter/1st Degree Blackbelt), Gabriel Gonzaga (Team Link Worcester Head Coach/UFC Heavyweight/3rd Degree Blackbelt), Ricardo Funch (Team Link Pittsfield Head Coach/MMA fighter/Blackbelt), Jeff Nader (Cape Cod Fighting Alliance MMA Fighter), Alexandre Moreno (Team Link Manchester Head Coach/MMA Middleweight fighter/ Blackbelt), Gil de Freitas (MMA Fighter from Brasil) and Eder Riberio (Daniel Gracie Brown Belt).
Stay posted as articles will be written highlighting each fighter individually.
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Taking MMA Lessons in Springfield MA

Some big questions to ask when choosing a gym to take MMA classes in Springfield MA is how many professional fighters does that school have? How many of the fighters are in the UFC, have fought in the UFC or about to be signed in the UFC? Do other fighters and BJJ stars go there train? Do fighters come other countries like Brazilian and Spain to learn and step up there game? I am not telling you what the right answer is to these questions are.  You can figure it out for yourself.

To be good at MMA you must be good at all aspects of the sport. Such as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Striking, kicking, and wrestling. Strength and conditioning along with cardio are essential aspects of the game as well.

Why should you choose a gym that has a really good BJJ program if you are looking for MMA instruction in Springfield MA? The reason is simply put, Jiu Jitsu is extremely technical and takes a very long time to become good. That is why you should start kids with BJJ and then work in other styles as they age.


UFC Training – Western Mass BJJ

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and UFC go hand in hand. Preparing for a fight in the UFC you must train BJJ, that is a given. Team Link in Ludlow Massachusetts gathered this group to help Gabriel Gonzaga as he prepares for his fight in upcoming UFC 146. Together they are 2,000 pounds of MMA and BJJ skill. In this photo from left to right is Eder Ribeiro, Darrell Oliveira, Juliano De Sousa Coutinho, Gabriel Gonzaga, Christian Morecraft, Dominic Blue, Peter Kerantzas, and Ricardo Oliveira.

All of these athletes are very skilled live and train in Massachusetts. You must train with best if you want to be the best. This is the moto to live by! Watching these guys train is amazing. I never get sick of it. You can learn so much just by watching.


In the photos above Christian Morecraft, who is an other UFC heavy weight, is training no gi BJJ with one of Team Link’s heavy weights, Darrell Oliveira.  Oliveira always comes and helps at the UFC training camps in Ludlow. As it gets closer to date of the big fight, these camps will get even bigger. Stay tuned for more about UFC training and my Western Mass BJJ Fighter Page as I update more profiles.

Please leave a comment or tell me a topic you want me to write about.

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Rodolfo Vieira prepared for André Galvão and Xande: “I’m always watching their matches”

Rodolfo Vieira, the current number one, is tuned in to the other monsters on their way to Abu Dhabi.

The Pan-American Jiu-Jitsu Championship kicks off this coming 29th of March in Irvine, California. There in the match areas will be the most masterful grappling wizards of the new generation of world Jiu-Jitsu; however, one name is missing from the roster. Last year’s champion at weight and open weight, Rodolfo Vieira, is the biggest hit to the IBJJF tournament lineup.

“It would be cutting it really close to he Abu Dhabi WPJJ on April 13, so I decided to focus only on one event: I’d rather compete only in the Emirates,” he told

The GFTeam black belt has been training hard for a repeat of his 2011 performance, when he won weight and open weight in the Middle East.

“I’m working on everything, doing specific training on bottom, on top, takedowns. I’ll show up in Abu Dhabi well-rounded. I lift weights in the morning, then do technical training. In the afternoon I roll some, and at night I do judo and Jiu-Jitsu,” said the black belt, who will likely cross paths with Xande Ribeiro, André Galvão or Bernardo Farias.


“I’m always watching his matches, and I know more or less what he does. When training, you can’t be thinking about just two or three fighters; there are a lot of tough guys out there, and in Jiu-Jitsu we have to be prepared for everything,” he said.

Voted the GRACIEMAG number-one competitor of 2011, Rodolfo revealed which moves he most likes putting to use in competition.

“I do a lot of everything in training, but what I really like is doing chokes from back control, a move I’ve been doing ever since the first tournaments I was in; I’ve tapped a lot of people out that way. I like the armbar and choke from mount as well,” said the heavyweight, before offering two pointers to our practitioner readers:


“You have to do a lot of repetitions to get everything just right in training before putting it to practice in competition. You have to be confident in the position for it to come out perfect,” Vieira explains.


The current IBJJF absolute champion also teaches how to get a better squeeze on opponent’s necks.

“When choking from mount you have to get the hand in deep, and then move it to the side where you have no base. The other hand has to be firm, real tight, to not lose the hold,” the Julio César student teaches.

courtesy of western mass bjj