By Matt Parrino
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — The plan for Scott McGregor on Saturday night was to work his stand up against Jermaine Sneed, a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and only go to the ground as a last resort.
But seconds into the fight, the former Tonawanda wrestler saw an opening, shot in hard and emphatically drove Sneed to the ground. For the next six-plus minutes, McGregor dominated the Niagara Falls native, and in the second round locked in a rear naked choke to earn the victory via submission at the third T-NT Fight Series event at Rainbow Rink in North Tonawanda.
The 22-year-old McGregor was surprised how well he was able to work once he took Sneed to the ground.
"He said he was a jiu-jitsu guy so I should be wary on the ground, but I passed him very easy and got to mount," McGregor said. "I just took my time and set things up."
The victory meant a lot to McGregor, not only because he was fighting in front of friends and family, but because Sneed called him out. McGregor's coach Erik Herbert said Sneed really lit a fire under his fighter and it showed in the cage.
"Scott submitted a kid that's a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu — that's a big accomplishment," Herbert said. "We kind of thought it would go that way. … The plan was to stand and if it didn't go to our favor we would go for the take down. But Scott was a collegiate wrestler and likes to wrestle, so he took him down right away. Not the plan but we weren't worried if it went there."
McGregor said that normally when someone calls out a fighter he or she has the skills to back it up, but Sneed barely put up a fight off his back. McGregor rained big punches in the first round and held him down for most of the round. In the second, Herbert called out to McGregor after he landed another double leg and instructed him to start working his jiu-jitsu after softening Sneed up in the first with pure ground and pound.
The game plan paid off when Sneed went to sweep from the bottom and McGregor capitalized, transitioning to his back and securing the rear naked. Sneed tapped quick and McGregor, a T-NT Fight Series veteran (appearing on all three cards), picked up the win.
Herbert was thrilled with the way McGregor stepped up and dominated the fight, especially since he had been battling a sinus infection and taking antibiotics for a few days.
In the main event of the evening, Niagara Falls lightweight Frankie Scalzo captured the T-NT Fight Series lightweight championship — the first ever title belt in the promotion's history — with a third-round submission win over Rochester's Dylan Freedman. Scalzo used the guillotine choke to pick up the win, a move that's beginning to become his trademark.
Scalzo is the first Niagara Falls fighter to win two amateur titles. Victory MMA promoter Don Lilly said Scalzo fought a great fight and the win marks a great amateur career for the champ.
"It's a great accomplishment for Frankie to have a four-fight win streak," he said. "His pro debut is calling and now he starts at the bottom. With continued effort and training I'm sure Frankie has many more big fights in his future."
Victory MMA's Valerie Aspaas won by rear naked choke in the first round of the co-main event of the evening against Binghamton's Angie Reinhardt fighting out of Power of 1 MMA. The female contest was only the second of its kind in the history of MMA in New York state.
McGregor is looking for one more amateur fight before turning pro and said that fighting in front of friends and family made Saturday night even more memorable.
"The more you win, the more you learn and expect of yourself. You have to keep bringing your game up to the next level," he said. "Hopefully I'll get a title shot somewhere, get myself a belt and then look for pros soon and make some money. (I love fighting at home) — It's the best part. There is a little more stress on you to perform, but then when you win you have everyone cheering for you. There's no better feeling than that."Contact sports editor Matt Parrino at 693-1000 ext. 4117 and find Tonawanda News sports on Twitter @tonanewssports.