By ERICH NEUHAUS
The Tonawanda News
— All Jesse Plotner could do was watch as his older brother Cody Plotner was being choked into submission by Buffalo’s Anthony Norton.
“It was tough,” said Plotner. “It kind of weighs on you, but luckily I probably had an hour-and-a-half between our fights, and (trainer) Erik (Herbert) talked to me and cleared my head and I felt good. I felt real confident going in.”
Plotner took center stage in the main event of the second TNT Fight Series mixed martial arts event on Saturday night at the Rainbow Roller Rink in NT.
The younger Plotner’s confidence looked like anger when in the cage against a bigger Keith Haubner. He quickly and neatly dropped the heavyweight to the mat and started raining punches, ground-and-pound style before the referee stopped the fight just 90 seconds in, giving Plotner the TKO win.
“I tagged him with that right hand, shot the double and took him down,” Plotner said, who trains out of Victory MMA in NT. “Once I get them to the ground I know no one can touch me.”
The ground-and-pound action kept the 1,000 plus fans in attendance entertained during the 14 amateur fights. With a new sanctioning body overseeing the event, the fights were as close to pro MMA fighting possible in New York, and had a true feel of a pro event.
“With the rules allowing these guys (to ground-and-pound), it will bridge the gap to make them pros sooner,” TNT Fight Series promoter Don Lilly said.
The 14 fight card featured a lot of local fighters, four of them Tonawanda High School graduates, including Jesse and Cody Plotner. Brian Piccolo, who is in the Tonawanda High School wrestling Hall of Fame, traveled in from his Florida home to fight in the co-main event.
Like Plotner, Piccolo pummeled his way to victory in just 2:30 of the first round, winning by TKO over Jesse Hall. Piccolo controlled the match by overpowering Hall on the mat before getting an opportunity to land strikes while on top of him.
A large number of Piccolo’s family and friends came to see the middleweight improve to 3-1, but he said whether he’s fighting in Florida or his hometown, his intensity is still the same.
“It doesn’t matter where I’m at, when the bell rings and people are out there fighting, I’m ready to win,” he said.
Nine of the 28 fighters made their first appearance in the cage Saturday. Tonawanda graduate Scott McGregor made his during the TNT Fight Series’ first event back in May, losing a controversial decision. This time, though, McGregor got his “redemption” against debut fighter Anthony Jerome from Team Bombsquad, one of the most recognizable MMA teams in New York.
During the featherweight bout, McGregor, came really close to picking up his second loss when Jerome put him in a guillotine less than a minute into the fight. But McGregor defended well, and despite lying on his back, put the Division-I Binghamton University wrestler in an arm-bar submission to pick up the win.
Herbert had a lot to smile about at the event. The co-owner of Victory MMA in NT saw his team go 5-0, including an impressive and overwhelming win from bantamweight debut fighter Eric Valez, Peter Mazzeo, and Niagara Falls’ Frankie Scalzo Mazzeo improves to 4-0 and Scalzo is now 3-2.
If one of New York State’s concerns about legalizing professional MMA fights is safety, it might want to listen to New York State Athletic Commission Deputy Commissioner and Buffalo boxing legend Joe Mesi. Mesi told the crowd he supports professional MMA fights in New York, he even went as far as saying the sport is safer than boxing.
No one was seriously injured in any of the 14 action-packed fights.
“I think the State of New York needs to needs to take an eye on Western New York and see what we’re doing over here,” Lilly said.