Month: December 2021

Aaron Jeffery On DWCS Redemption

Aaron Jeffery On Dana White’s Contender Series Redemption

By Andy Cotterill

If you ask most people to describe the Ultimate Fighting Championship, they’ll likely tell you that it’s an organization that promotes the sport of mixed martial arts.

They’d be correct, of course, but it’s much more than that.


Amongst a growing number of competing global promotions, the UFC is still the place where fighters from across the globe aspire to ply their trade. They could conceivably make more money elsewhere, but that doesn’t matter…the UFC has the cachet, and it’s where most fighters want to be.

The UFC is where dreams can be made and dreams can be crushed, and both are seen live in vivid colour every single fight night. In the days following, many compelling stories emerge from both winning and losing sides.

But perhaps the most compelling of all are the stories of redemption.


Just over two years ago Canadian Middleweight Aaron Jeffery (10-2) lost his fight against Brendan Allen in UFC President Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) Season 3, and this Tuesday night in Season 5, he’s getting a second chance to make it into the world’s premiere MMA organization when he faces 8-1 Brazillian Caio Borralho.


Not every fighter gets called back to try again, in fact, it’s a rarity.


But since that loss in the year that the Covid-19 virus emerged Jeffery has won all 4 of his fights, 3 via TKO, and it’s just a bonus that the man who beat him is currently on a tear in the UFC proper.


Jeffery knows that this is a make-or-break opportunity for him, but remains pragmatic in his perspective about the possibility of another loss.


“I bounce back and forth between these two trains of thought.” Jeffery told MM-eh from his Air BNB in Las Vegas, where he and his girlfriend have been staying for 3 months while he trains at Syndicate MMA.


“My one thought is like maybe I have to consider another career, I’m pushing 30 and two losses in the Contender Series is bad and I’m probably not going to get signed, my life’s over. My other thought is like, does it really matter that much if I lose this fight? I’m in the same situation I’m in now, I’m still not in the UFC, I have one more fight on my record, and I just made a few thousand dollars to fight. I had some eyes on me and probably will get some attention even if I lose, so you can look at it either way.”


Some may read those words and think that it’s not what an athlete should be thinking, or especially saying out loud. But those are the people who repeat phrases like “Losing is not an option” as if that will better their chance at victory. Losing is always an option. It happens to all of us, in some small way, all of the time. Ignoring it doesn’t make th

e possibility go away.
Once you embrace the fact that losing is there, you can start to take the steps necessary to prevent it.


That’s just what Jeffery did all of those months ago when he made the trek with his Niagara Top Team (NTT) teammates down to Vegas, where they embedded themselves into the tightknit training group at Syndicate MMA.


This effort paid off in a big way for Jeffery’s teammate Jasmine Jasudavicius, who dominated her DWCS opponent two weeks ago, and had UFC President Dana White positively gushing over her gameness.


While Jeffery has always been known as a hard worker, his time at Syndicate has been a boon to his confidence in several ways.


“I’m the most experienced guy back home and I’m the bigger guy in the gym, right, so I don’t have a ton of hard rounds, so coming here and getting rounds with Sean, like I know on sparring day it’s going to be a war and I get that fight feel and I get some anxiety before sparring and it kind of like brings the fight out of you, so I think I needed to have that again in my training.”


The Sean he refers to is Sean Strickland, the 7th ranked UFC Middleweight who recently defeated Uriah Hall and is slated to face Luke Rockhold at UFC 268, where a win would most certainly place his name in conversation as a future championship contender.


Jeffery’s time in the cage with Strickland and TUF veteran John Poppie must have made a good impression, as Syndicate MMA Owner and Head Coach John Wood will be cornering him on Tuesday along with Jeffery’s NTT coach Chris Prickett.


For such a night you’d think that Jeffery would be amped up, or perhaps worried, but surprisingly he says that’s not the case.


“Honestly, I’m a pretty even-keeled guy. I feel the same going in to all of my fights. Every fight of your career is the biggest fight of your career, so it kinda all feels the same. It’s comforting to know that I’ve done all the work I’ve done and I’ve controlled everything I can.”

Jasmine Jasudavicius Ready To Make A Splash On DWCS

NIAGARA TOP TEAM’S JASMINE JASUDAVICIUS READY TO MAKE A SPLASH ON DANA WHITE’S CONTENDER SERIES

By Andy Cotterill

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” ― Aristotle

An internet search for motivational quotes about opportunity will yield millions of results, and for some, these words can help guide them toward some form of excellence.

But for Niagara fighter Jasmine Jasudavicius, excellence is already a long time habit, and in a few short days she plans to stand in front of the mixed martial arts world and scream her name at the top of her lungs and dare them all to not recognize her as someone to pay close attention to.

On Tuesday September 14th Jasudavicius faces Brazilian Julia Polastri on Season 5 of Dana White’s Contender Series in a Flyweight (125 lbs) match that will likely award the winner a coveted position on the roster of the world’s pre-eminent mixed martial arts organization – The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

A founding member of Niagara Top Team and one of Canada’s hottest prospects, Jasudavicius will be pitting her combined 9-1 amateur and professional record against Polastri’s 8-2, so at first glance this seems to be a very fair match up.

But a fighter’s life in these days of Covid is anything but fair. Neither social distancing nor the wearing of masks are very conducive toward the kind of up close and personal training with multiple partners needed to conduct a proper fight camp, especially one that has such high stakes.

In normal times Niagara Top Team is a hot bed of sizzling Canadian MMA talent that gave Jasudavicius every ounce of training opportunity possible, but the stringent Canadian Covid restrictions for gyms severely restricted her ability to maintain both the quantity and quality of training to which she was accustomed.

So it was decided that Jasudavicius and about a half dozen of her NTT teammates, including main training partner Teshay Gouthro, would make the trek to Syndicate MMA in Las Vegas to start her preparation for the biggest fight of her career so far. The team enjoyed a week or so of great training then returned home. But when the UFC scheduled her to return to Vegas 6 weeks before fight night to conduct a day or two of promotional video shoots, she realized that returning to Canada again after that would force her to quarantine, and at that point she could just not afford to waste any time not training as fully as she could.

So she’s been in Vegas since then.

In the gym.

Every day.

Training.

Training with other UFC fighters in their own fight camps like Ji Yeon Kim and Emily Whitmire.

Training with other UFC veterans like Joanne Calderwood and Roxanne Modafferi.

Training with Holly Holmes’ next opponent Norma Dumont, who Jasudavicius says she loved training with despite the size difference.

For Jasmine Jasudavicius the training is now over, and all that’s left for her to do is the final act. The act that is a part of her habit. The act of stepping into a cage and staring into the eyes of someone who is ready to do to her what she’s been preparing to do to them.

The act of standing with her arm raised.

She’s ready.

Niagara Power

Niagara Power

18 June, 2019

By Andy Cotterill

When most people hear the word “Niagara,” the first thing they think of are the world-famous water falls, the majesty of which attracts millions of visitors every year.
But for submission grappling fans that may soon change as Niagara Top Team’s Chris Prickett and Jasmine Jasudavicius are ready to burst onto the scene at Para Bellum’s Quintet II on June 21st in Oakville, Ontario.

A former National Wrestling Champion, Olympic Alternate, and current Assistant Wrestling Coach for the men’s and women’s National Champion Brock Badgers, Prickett competed in the first Quintet but left disappointed after being disqualified for an illegal knee reap, and is looking forward to redemption against fellow Quintet veteran Jaamal Richer from Battle Arts Academy.
“The first Quintet was awesome and I had so much fun.” Says Prickett. “But most of my Jiu jitsu knowledge comes from coaching wrestling and MMA athletes, so it was my own ignorance for not understanding the ruleset.” He notes regarding his disqualification, but he vows that he and Richer will excite the crowd.

“We’ve spoken over the internet and he seems like a really cool guy just looking to compete and have fun with it.”
Jasudavicius is an up-and-coming mixed martial artist and had been hoping to parlay her undefeated amateur record into her professional MMA debut at BTC 6 on June 1st, but fortunately for Quintet fans her opponent dropped out, allowing her to compete along alongside Prickett in Ontario’s premiere submission grappling event.

“The first Quintet was amazing,” she says, “they put on a very entertaining show and everyone loved it. I really liked how they showcased the wrestling and the Jiu jitsu and I can hardly wait to do it myself.”

Her opponent of the evening will be Angela Neufeld, a multiple time jiujitsu champion, as well as Fight of the Night winner in BJJ super fights.

“I know that she’s a blue belt same as me and a multiple time champion,” Jasudavicius says, “but that being said I think that I’ll feel different to her because I’m an MMA fighter as opposed to a Jiu jitsu practitioner, so I think I have the advantage because of that.”

Prickett says that an event like the Quintet means different things to different athletes. “Jasmine and I are competing in the same thing, but for me it’s completely different than it is for her. Her end goal is the UFC and fighting at the highest level, and for me this is recreational.”

“Recreational” clearly means something different for someone who lives and breathes different types of combat training. “Coaching is my main focus, and I do this on the side,” he says, “and it’s not to say that I’m not taking this seriously because I am, but this is like me going golfing on the weekend.”

Jasudavicius agrees that for her competing in the Quintet isn’t just fun, it’s serving a purpose. “I’m just going out there and kinda what (UFC Champion) Tony Ferguson said – getting my mat time in and getting the competition experience, that’s why I’m doing it.”

Prickett says that while Jasudavicius may seem sweet and innocent when you meet her, it’s a different story once she hits the mats.

“Her biggest strength is that she’s fearless. Skills come from training but I feel like she was born a fighter, it’s just in her, she just has it.” He says, before adding some ominous words, “She won’t say it, but she likes breaking people — taking them down and sucking the wind out of them.”

Jasudavicius smiles as he says that and adds, “Going into a fight it’s like, who’s going to break first? I know I’m not going to break.”

As for predictions? The Niagara Power Couple answer just like you think they would.

“Just win.” Says Prickett. “That’s the purpose of competition. The goal of what I want to get out of June 21st is to get my hand raised, and secondly is to do it in exciting fashion.”
For Jasudavicius it’s even simpler than that. “I predict she’ll be submitted by me pretty quick.”

NTT Opening Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

10 June, 2019

Niagara Top Team Opens in St. Catharines

ST.CATHARINES, ON – Elite level training in Mixed Martial Arts and Wrestling have come to the Niagara Region with the opening of Niagara Top Team, located at 491 Merritt Street, St. Catharines.

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is an amalgamation of numerous combat sports that was popularized in North America by the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in 1993 when it asked the question, “Who would win in a fight between different fighting styles, like boxing, wrestling, and jiu jitsu?”

Co-owners Matt DiMarcantonio and Chris Prickett each bring a wealth of experience to the area that they both feel had previously been missing.

DiMarcantonio is a veteran of 19 professional MMA fights and is a top 10 ranked Canadian featherweight, while Prickett is currently an Assistant Wrestling Coach at Brock University and former Canadian National Wrestling Champion and member of the Canadian National Wrestling Team, Olympic Alternate, and bronze medallist in both the Commonwealth and Pan-Am Games.

The idea behind Niagara Top Team (NTT) evolved over the past 2 years when the pair found themselves traveling together around the NE United States with the athletes they trained.

“There is a need for high level coaching in the area,” said Prickett, “Matt has 19 professional fights, and the next in the area is Anthony Romero with 5 and he trains with us as well, so there’s not really another gym that offers that elite level coaching for MMA other than us.

Although Niagara Top Team provides the type of training needed by high-calibre professional athletes, DiMarcantonio notes that for him, it’s also about paying it forward and helping regular people and kids.

“We’re not just a competitive professional gym, we want to bring that family environment in here with the kid’s and adult program and really build that up.” DiMarcantonio says. “I’m getting a little bit older now, just had a kid, have a family, so why am I still in martial arts? What is my purpose? I’m trying to think bigger than myself. Maybe my goal is to pass it on the next generation? All these years of traveling around the world, it’s time to pass it on.”

“The goal is to build that confidence inside them, not just as athletes, but in everyday life,” DiMarcantonio continues, “walk with your chest out and not be scared. In MMA you learn more than just techniques, you learn about yourself and how you deal with life.”

Prickett finishes. “I think that just because it’s a kid or an adult who doesn’t desire to be a professional MMA fighter or a world champion, they should expect to have the best coaching and learn techniques that have been tried and tested and proven.”