Mike Polvere has been described as the most ethical man in regional MMA. He’s so adept at multitasking his way through a show that he has been likened to being busier than a one legged man in an ass kicking contest. He distributes praise like a farmer spreads seeds. He is humble like Bill Belichick, and nearly as competent. We are told in Mathew 7:12 “do to others what you would have them do to you”, and Polvere lives this message on a daily basis. Well, last Friday nigh in Plymouth, Mass, the founder of Cage Titans moved his game to a new level as Polvere hosted Cage Titans XV as a tribute to recently fallen fighter Shayne Stephenson, who passed away just six weeks prior.
Cage Titans XV was set up as a tribute to Shayne Stephenson, who passed away June 7 of this year at the age of 23 years young. A banner of Shayne was hung in the rafters, memory cards were available for the fans, and Shayne’s story was told in the program for the event. In fact Shayne’s life was embossed on the floor of the cage, where his family (30 or more members strong) was invited for the five minute memorial video that was played to start the evening. (Mike had set up a special seating section just for Shayne’s family.) I have known Mike Polvere in many capacities over the past three years, but I have never seen the side of him that a thousand MMA fans saw last Friday. With microphone in hand and surrounded by a few dozen of Shayne’s loved ones, Mike worked his way through an emotional tribute to one of his favorite fighters…
On July 26th, as the evening of Cage Titans XV began, Polvere was doing his usual imitation of the circus performer balancing one footed on the high wire while juggling three flaming bowling pins and spinning five plates while singing in Yiddish; he was wearing cargo shorts and a yellow Cage Titans shirt at the time. He was greeting fighters, fixing a broken light, and probably making the popcorn and parking cars.
When the Tribute to Shayne began at 7:30 PM, the promoter was dressed in his black shoes, dress slacks, and a blue business shirt, which is what he spent the next two hours wearing in his capacity as the Promoter and cage announcer.
When intermission came, some guy named Mike Polvere (MMA record 4-0 Ammy, 2-0 Pro), dressed in his best South Shore Sports Fighting shorts, climbed into the cage to give Tateki Matsuda a five minute grappling match. You see, Tateki was supposed to fight in the Main Event tonight, but his opponent pulled out with a final week injury, so Mike (the fighter) filled in on late notice.
During the final stretch of the night (the main card), Mike was back into his promoter cloths doing the cage announcing and wrapping the Championship belts around the waists of the winners. If my math is correct, that comes to four clothing changes (Who does this guys’ laundry?), one final tribute to Shayne, seventeen fights, three Championship belts, a thousand happy fans, and one grappling match.
So, that’s MY tribute to Mike Polvere; promoter extraordinaire… Old School
Here is what else went on at Cage Titans XV.
The Barrett brothers each scored wins. Now it’s true that Cage Titans is the promotion that brought us the Fighting Cardarelli’s, that Father & Son team who each won their debut fights on the same night a year and a half ago (and a few since then as well).
Young Max Barrett began the night for the Maxx MMA brother tandem when he knocked out Ken Bailey in the first round. Max looked like Anderson Silva, albeit a buck cheaper, with his long and accurate striking. Coach Mike Varner says that we can expect more of the same from Max in the future.
Peter Barrett shocked the Amateur ranks when he KO’d previously unbeaten and second ranked Lightweight Ruso Khubejashvili for the Featherweight Title in just 26 seconds. It was a left hand that snuck in and ended the night and five fight win streak for Ruso. Peter now moves to 4-2 in his Amateur career, including at least three Fight of the Night and two KO of the Night distinctions. The man who has never been in a boring fight will now begin to make his presence felt at the front end of the Featherweight ranks!!!
Remo Cardarelli (of the Fighting Cardarellis) left his 4-1 Amateur career behind to make his Pro debut last Friday. Included in that five fight Amateur streak were two Submission of the Night Awards (One he shared with his dad when the voting was tied; really!) and one Fight of the Night war that he had with Kenny Murphy. Well, Remo and Shane Decristoforo waged a three round war in the Main Event on Friday that will be on the list for Fight of the Year!!! In the end, Remo (USMMA) caught Shane (Tri-Force) with an arm bar late in the final round that also earned the younger Cardarelli his first Submission of the Night as a Pro. When that video is out, I highly recommend watching it…
Keegan Hornstra enjoyed his 68 seconds of fame on Cage Titans XV. Keegan, who somehow had not yet won a fight since turning Pro, put on an MMA clinic that included high kicks, low kicks, and a spinning back fist that landed so cleanly that they felt it in the rafter seats at Plymouth Memorial Hall. At one point he caught a low kick, threw a punch, and swept the planted foot (leaving his opponent sitting on the seat of his pants) so fast that I had images of Sha Shamhalaev! Keegan ended the highlight reel with a submission by Guillotine at 1:08 of round one! This was an amazing 68 seconds of MMA; great job Keegan…
“Smooth” Kenny Murphy (Team Link Hooksett, NH) battled back against a faster, bigger Jesse Gutierrez (Connors MMA) for a five round split decision win to defend the belt that he won earlier this year. After being out struck in the first round, the Team Link Flyweight used his wrestling to control the direction of the final four rounds and keep his undefeated record in tact; barely. Any other night this was the Fight of the Night, and the split decision was indicative as to just how close this one was. Each of these boys will make some noise when they turn Pro in the near future.
Team United Heavyweight Mario Gonzalez dusted off a few years of cage rust and came out and stole Ed Gillis’ Heavyweight Belt with a first round standing guillotine. Both Gillis and Gonzales came in with identical records (2-1). Gillis nailed the first takedown and looked to be in good top control, but Gonzalez scrambled to his feet and found a guillotine waiting to happen, and he never let go. It’s great to see Heavyweight action like this.
There was one fan who threw a full cup of beer from the rafter seats in Plymouth Memorial, and for those of you who don’t know the venue, that’s a pretty good throw. The scoundrel splattered beer on the fighter, the ref, managers, and some of the cage side folks. Plymouth’s Finest found out the culprit and locked him up for the weekend. He will face charges on Monday morning in Plymouth. Polvere has no patience for that kind of activity…
Well, that’s a wrap. Clean up and turn out the lights when you’re done…
Front-Page Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports