Academy has a “Gold” weekend

Minneapolis, MN April 30th 2014

This past Saturday was an eventful one for the Academy’s BJJ competitors and MMA team alike.

Ben Smith

Ben Smith Driller SEG Welterweight Champ!

Downtown Minneapolis was the scene of an epic night of fights for Driller Promotions. Two of which were for the promotions welterweight & featherweight titles. Driller has grown to be the most prominent fight promotion in Minnesota and one of the top destinations for fighters in the entire Midwest.

Kicking off the night was Michael Jokondo (Brooklyn Center) at 130 lbs against Drew Breckling of Wisconsin. after 2 rounds of back and forth battling on the canvas, it was Jokondo taking home the win via triangle choke for the Academy against the wrestler in Breckling. This win moves Michael to 2-0 as an amateur.

Next up was Mikey Zimmer (Minneapolis) at 155 lbs against the veteran Rick Jackson (4-3). This one ended midway through the 1st round by rear naked choke from Zimmer. Who is bouncing back from being 0-1-1 in his last two efforts moving his professional record to (4-2-1).

In the nights Co-Main event The Academy’s timeless Nick Compton (Brooklyn Park) defended his featherweight strap against a tough (5-0) Jordan Neer of Iowa. The end came at 2:51 in round 1 by Arm bar. Nick Compton is now (9-3) professionally and could be headed to another crack at a  bigger promotion soon.

The nights Main Event help up to all the hype it generated. Ben Smith (Minneapolis) vs Nate Howe of Warriors Cove was a 5 round, very bloody,  submission war of attrition that can only be explained by watching the footage on youtube! in the end it was Smith claiming the Unanimous Decision and the welterweight Title. After his post fight speech it was revealed that Ben Smith now 10-1 will move on to Bellator’s 170 lb tournament late in the summer.

Also in action Saturday was everybody’s favorite Jacob Volkmann (Hugo). The chiropractor by trade picked up a win in Fargo, ND over (9-3) Danny white by tko in round 2. This fight was put together quickly due to his time off from WSOF (world series of fighting).


Ben Smith 9-2 (Team Academy) vs. Nate Howe (8-2) (Warrior’s Cove)

News, notes, & upcoming bouts

January Saw lots of action with Academy fighters Carl Deaton, Dustin murphy, Mikey Zimmer, Clarence Jordan, and several others that were in action.

juusolaJanuary 11th, Zach Juusola took teammate nick Compton’s place in a 155lb bout with local standout Codie Kahler. With the 2nd round tko victory “Juice” reminded everybody that he was the top dog at lightweight in Minnesota. With this win he earned himself a shot at a bigger profile fight.

Zach Juusola will join another Academy product Dan Moret on an RFA (resurrection fighting alliance) card march 7th in Lincoln, Nebraska. The main card will be broadcast  on AXS.TV. Dan Moret will take on Luke Sanders (6-0) of Tennessee in a highly touted featherweight battle. Juusola will take on Ultimate Fighter season 15 cast member Cody Pfister (10-3-1). It is unclear if this fight will be on the main card.

February 1st in Austin , The Academy amateur standouts Dustin Murphy & Melvin Cruz went to battle on another great local  Driller promotions fight card. Murphy lost due to submission while Cruz won his fight by tko in the 2nd round moving his amateur record to (4-1)

This Saturday February 8th Ben Smith will travel to Davenport, Iowa to fight for the Xplode fight series 170 championship belt. Xplode, out of California will pit Smith against a very tough Jason Louck.

More fight announcements and news will be coming in the next week.

Academy fighters in Bellator’s 10th season

Bellator begins its 10th season February 28th on spike TV. The main draw for this card will be former UFC champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson vs. former Bellator 205lb champion Christian M’pumbu, but this night also kicks off the promotions featherweight tournament where The Academy’s perennial knock out artist Mike “The Marine” Richman looks to be the last man standing out of the 8 man tournament. In the first round Richman will take on Desmond green (10-2), which will be part of the Spike TV televised main card.

On March 21st Brandon Girtz will enter the lightweight tournament against Derek Campos in Kansas. This is actually a rematch for the two, who fought to a decision last year, Campos got the nod. Now spending some time training in Colorado under Trevor Whitman (Grudge MMA) Girtz will look advance in the tournament and reclaim victory over a former foe.

Academy Bantamweight Andre” The Diva” Tieva will also take part in the upcoming season for Bellator, though it is not certain of an exact fight date yet. Stay tuned as 1 or more academy fighters could also join this promotion.

Bellator season 10 will air on Spike TV Fridays at 9/8c starting February 28th.

The Juice is Loose

juice2 weeks ago the Co-main event of Driller promotions’ Epic fight night was dealt a major blow. Nick Compton, who was taking on (4-0) Codie Kahler at 155lbs, suffered an ankle injury while training. Originally the plan was to reschedule the match up for February or March. But then the plot thickened.

MN ranked #1 Lightweight Zach “Juice” Juusola  decided to jump back in the cage and fill in for his teammate on very short notice.  Juusola has been out of action since September of 2012 when he submitted  (7-2)Bill Christianson. After a year of injury and surgeries “Juice” is ready to put himself back on the scene in a big way with a victory over the Rising prospect in Kahler.

Also in action this Saturday at Epic night club in downtown Minneapolis…. Carl Deaton looks to keep the wins rolling as well as Mikey Zimmer, Clarence Jordan, Dustin Murphy, and Melvin Cruz who also comes back after a year long layoff.

Academy MMA takes wins, awards, and a belt


The Academy MMA team collects awards, wins, and a belt.

In front of a packed house at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, MN this past Saturday… The Academy’s MMA squad again proved that they are Elite in the state as well as the Midwest.

7 fighters sporting the blue academy “A” logo , went into battle at “Caged Chaos at Canterbury 4”. Starting of the night was the MMA debut of Michael Jokondo at 125lb vs  Marc Gomez. after 3 full rounds of a back and forth affair which saw Jokondo out strike Gomez. Jokondo started his Amateur career off with a unanimous decision victory.

Next up was Jason Huntley, also at 125lb, vs. St. Louis, MS. native Eric Newman. Huntley won the stand up to start off every round until Newman score on a takedown and keep Huntley on his back for most of the round. This was repeated 3 times. Ultimately the Judges saw it as a Draw. A rematch is in the works as the winner of this bout was to fight for the Driller Promotions Amateur Flyweight title.

Dustin Murphy made quick work of Darrien Mackiel with a clean Knockout just :28 seconds into the first round. Earning himself $500 and KO of the night honors.

Ben smith kept himself on top of the heap of welterweights in the Midwest by earning Submission of the night with a rare inverted key lock on the (42-19) Victor Moreno.

In a highly anticipated re-match of the Minnesota’s & Wisconsin’s top 145 pounders Dan Moret took on Jose Pacheco once again to settle the score at 3:17 of the 2nd round via arm-in north/south choke (also a rarity). This garnered fight of the night honors. This fight was a sequel to the June 2013 meeting between the two under the RFA banner, which saw Moret take a unanimous decision victory.

In the Main Event, Jordan Parsons took out local standout Damion hill with a quick guillotine choke. This moved parsons record to 10-1 as well as ended the war of words between the two for the past 2 months leading up to the event.

Also in action was Jesse Midas, Jesse suffered a first round submission loss to local jiu jitsu ace Nate Howe.

The Academy becoming a Bellator breeding ground

November 2nd, 2013….”CRACK!” Another Mike Richman left hand connects on his opposition, putting Akop Stepanyhan on the canvas before Richman finished the fight with a Double hammer fist otherwise known in the gym as a “captain Kirk”. This win put Richman at 5-2 in B.F.C and put The Academy at 4-0 over a 3 week span for Bellator.

With Bellator fighting championship growing as a promotion and growing in popularity due to big name acquisitions such as “Rampage” Jackson, Cheick Kongo, and other UFC veterans, it has become a great company to fight for no matter where somebody is in their career.  The Academy Currently has 4 Fighters under contract with the Viacom backed promotion.


Mike Richman (16-3, 5-2 BFC) – a veteran of 2 145lb tournaments Mike is now well known for his boxing acumen and ability to end fights fast by fist or foot. After his Latest stoppage on the November 2nd card nothing is official for him next but a 3rd time in their tournament is a good bet.



girtz oct.

Brandon Girtz (10-3, 3-1 BFC) An over powering wrestler with heavy hands and fast submissions. 2 quick armbar victories in 2 weeks has put Girtz in line to be part of the 155lb tourney that begins in late January or early February .




Andre Tieva (7-0, 1-0 BFC) The 23 year old freestyle fighter took a fight for Bellator on 2 weeks notice this past October against a Local journeyman and finished the fight via TKO in round 1. Its not known when he will fight for the promotion again but its looking like march/april as he works his way up the Ladder.


Nick Kirk ( 9-3,0-3 BFC) the stand out wrestler has had a tough go in Bellator. Dropping 2 controversial split decisions to hometown fighters and just recently losing via triangle armbar to Joe Warren in the semi final round of the 135 lb tournament. It is unknown when Kirk will get back in to the Bellator FC cage.

September MMA round up

Compton's stiff jab

Nick Compton Driller SEG Featherweight CHAMP!

September was a busy month for The Academy MMA team. Lots of fantasy football line ups and fall jacket shopping trips took place…But in all seriousness many Fighters took to the cage over the last 4 weeks.

Sept. 14th had Andre “Diva” Tieva take a main event victory in La Crescent, MN while Muay Thai Ace Andrew Kapel took home a win up in Bismarck, ND. Both guys are well rounded, but both finished their fights by Submission in the opening rounds.

On Sept. 20th a big fight card took place at Canterbury park in Shakopee, MN where amateur fighters Jason Huntley, Dylan Murphy, and George Spears were in action. Professionals that night from the squad were Donald Williams, Mikey Zimmer, and Nick Compton. Jason Huntley took home a 1st round submission and Nick Compton tops a tough Matt veal in the nights main event for the Driller promotion featherweight title. Compton won via unanimous decision. Others from the Academy team had admirable efforts in their contests.

Nick Kirk vs Joe Warren… The fight that was, then wasn’t, then was again. After getting delayed 3 weeks due to Warren not passing pre fight medicals, the fight took place September 27th in Portland, OR. “The big hurt” got the better of the stand up battle in both 1st and 2nd rounds, but Warren, a World champion in freestyle wrestling landed takedowns and caught Kirk in an armbar late in round 2.

October looks to be a little less eventful. but with a bunch of young hungry fighters in the gym, who knows what could happen. STAY TUNED!

Diva Takes the Win, Survives scare.

Tieva (yellow trunks), Gaffney (black trunks)

Tieva (yellow trunks), Gaffney (black trunks)

Andre “the diva” Tieva walked out into a hostile environment for his main event fight September 14th against Wisconsin’s Matt Gaffney. Gaffney the former WI state champion in wrestling, had many family, friends, and students of his wrestling program there to cheer him on. And in the process give Tieva an earful.

Both fighters came out throwing kicks to feel each other out. After over commited on a swinging punch, Tieva and was taken down by Gaffney. Tieva quickly swept Gaffney to his back briefly before a scramble ensued leading to an armbar attempt from the bottom by Tieva that nearly ended the fight. After getting back to his feet Gaffney hovered over The Diva until he tried to stand up too soon, Gaffney caught him with a clean right hand followed by another after Tieva tried to fire back. This staggered and dropped Tieva.

“Wild child” jumped on Tieva with repeated blows and looked to have the fight in the bag, until Tieva was able to grab a leg, recover, and wall walk back to his feet. After Creating some distance Tieva connected with a front kick to Gaffneys chin that forced him to retreat. Tieva chased him with a swinging right hand, but Gaffney was able to clinch up and attempt another takedown except this time Tieva had an Arm-in guillotine already locked up. The 2 fell and it wasn’t long before Gaffney had to tap at 3:02 of round 1.

This victory puts Tieva at 6-0 as a professional , which puts him in position to take on some big fights in the very near future.

Nick Kirk plans to Upset ex Bellator champ

kirk warren


“Whoa…” was mine along with probably many others when ex-Bellator champion Joe Warren (8-3) called out The Academy’s Nick Kirk on National TV on one of Bellator’s Live events. It came off as a Professional wrestling type calling out, but it was very calculated by matchmakers and the promotions talent coordinators alike.

After a layoff and being one of the featured coaches on Spike TVs “Fight Master” Joe Warren isn’t giving Credit where credit is due with his Opponent in the promotions’ bantamweight Tournament bout. A brash, arrogant, and out spoken character Warren during his call out stated that “kirk shouldn’t even show up”. This lit a fire under the Minnesota native.

Kirk (10-2) despite being 0-2 in Bellator, is more than up to the challenge. The 2 losses for Kirk were both razor thin decision losses, with a third chance and biggest chance of his life to define his career “the big hurt” has put in a great camp for this fight. With most if not all of the MMA world claiming this is a feeder fight or that Bellator wants to boost Warren again, kirk is using it as motivation and looking shock the world, pull out all the stops, and come out on top on the Main card of This Saturdays Bellator 98 at the Mohegan sun Casino in Connecticut. The State, his family, friends, and entire team are also thinking the same.

Video: Flyweight Mark Sainci Joins the squad