Month: March 2022

Proud NTT Members with their new belts awarded by Professor Jorge Britto

BJJ Promotions

BJJ Belt Promotions

Last night was a huge one for Niagara Top Team, as Professor Jorge Britto of Jiu Jitsu For Life Team awarded belt promotions to a handful of members, including NTT co-owners Matt DiMarcantonio, who received his coveted Black Belt, and Chris Prickett, who received his Brown Belt.

Also awarded belts were professional mixed martial artists Anthony Romero and Zack Powell, who earned their Black and Brown belts respectively.

Congratulations to all of our determined athletes who have put in countless hours on the mats and who are seeing the fruits of their labours…we’re proud of you all!

NTT Undefeated March 2022

Niagara Top Team Undefeated

Clockwise from left- Cody Chovancek, Vinny Dias, Kevin Popowick-Bastien, Vladimir Kazbekov, Zack Powell

Niagara Top Team Undefeated

The first weekend of March 2022 was a good one for St Catharines based Niagara Top Team, with team members going 5-0 in 3 separate events and in 2 different countries.

On Friday night Vladimir Kazbekov KO’d the “KO King” Joey Gomez in 18 seconds at CES 66 in Lincoln, Rhode Island.

Also on Friday night, Zack Powell earned his third victory as a member of NTT since moving from Quebec to join the team.  “Pow Pow” dominated his game opponent at Unified MMA 43 in Edson, Alberta, and earned a well deserved unanimous decision.

Saturday night had 3 NTT athletes compete at BTC 14 in London, Ontario.

Like both Ashley Nichols (who won last weekend) and Zack Powell, Kevin Popowick-Bastien moved to Niagara to join NTT, and he has become one of the most dedicated and hard working members of the gym. This dedication was obvious to everyone who watched his fight as he displayed superb striking and perhaps an even better ground game, as it was an arm-triangle choke in the second round that gave him his first win as a professional.

Cody Chovancek needed only 2 minutes to put away his opponent with a nasty Rear Naked Choke submission, which is a testament to his hard work in the gym. He is clearly an athlete to carry the NTT torch long into the future.

In the second round of BTC Fight’s $10,000 Bantamweight Tournament, Vinny Dias’ victory over Izzudeen Atmeh keeps him undefeated as a pro with a record of 3-0. In his combined 6 amateur and professional victories this unanimous decision was his first win that did not come via submission, but this was a terrific opportunity for him to learn that he can still push the pace late into a fight, a skill that will serve him well when he faces Albaraa Atmeh in the finals in June.

Scott Hudson and Xavier Nash battled to a razor thin split decision in the evening’s co-main event, and both fighters train part time at NTT. They accepted this fight when each of their original opponents fell through on fight week. What makes this match up even more special is that the pair train together often, so kudos to both of them for being the professionals that they are.

Zack Powell at practise on fight week, 26 Feb 2022. Photo by Andy Cotterill

Zack Powell – Whatever I Do Tonight Is Going To Have Meaning For The Rest Of My Life

Zack Powell at practise on fight week, 26 Feb 2022. Photo by Andy Cotterill

Zack Powell – Whatever I Do Tonight Is Going To Have Meaning For The Rest Of My Life

By Andy Cotterill

The life of a fighter is never an easy one, uniquely moreso during Covid when there have been months-long periods that gyms were closed for training, and fight cards were not permitted to take place.

So for Zack “Pow Pow” Powell (4-1), this Friday’s fight against Cole Campbell (4-3) at Unified MMA 43 in Enoch, Alberta is just what he’s been eager for.

The 25-year-old Niagara Top Team prospect was just days away from fighting at the inaugural Tarps Off Fight Club in Niagara Falls last December when the Province of Ontario pulled permission for the event to occur.

“It’s very difficult.” Said Powell, when asked how he maintains focus and intensity when the future in the fight game is so uncertain.

But as the saying goes…if being a fighter was easy, everybody would do it.

“The way I see it,” Powell continued, “if I can’t stay zoned-in in those situations, when it’s going hard in the fight I won’t be zoned-in there either. I’ve got to treat every practise like it’s the most important practise of my life regardless of what I’m doing.”

But even though Covid has put an emphasis on that attitude for him, it’s one that he’s had since his first amateur fight a few days after his 18th birthday, and it’s included in his pre-fight ritual.

“I look myself in the mirror during one of the washroom trips I get because I get so many before a fight cause I’m nervous, and I tell myself, This is a night I won’t get back, there’s no do-overs. So whatever I do tonight is going to have meaning for the rest of my life.”

“At that moment I have to stay focused and I have to want it more than anyone else in the world.”

On Friday he’ll get a chance to prove his mettle once again, this time against Campbell, who Powell says is a game opponent.

“He likes to fight. He’s not the most confident striker in the world, and he likes to grapple and he likes to wrestle. He takes a lot of risks…he’ll lose positions to try and go get a sub or go get a finish. He doesn’t fight a smart fight but he’s good at what he does at making a dog fight.”

Powell isn’t overly concerned.

“I just think that I’m a better grappler, better wrestler, better striker. If it’s a dog fight or a technical fight it’s going to be my fight regardless.”

Even though Powell is confident going into this fight, he knows that it’s a great opportunity to work on strategy.

“I usually go out and start fast and eventually I’m very tired in round 3, but that’s not because I’m not in shape, It’s only because I put that pace on so early that I think it’s normal that I get tired.”

While this strategy may work well against the type of opponent once might face at the start of a career, as a fighter enters the phase of their career when their opponents are just as committed and just as fit, it’s crucial that they have the ability to go hard late into the fight.

“I think if I go out there and I take my time more and try to start winning the rounds later, like 3, 4, 5 minutes or at the end of the rAound, it’s probably a better idea. I usually try to win off the bat and start fading by the end of the round, and I feel that the judges remember more the end of the round than the beginning.”

“Hopefully I go out there and take my time and not be in a rush.”

On Friday night, we’ll see who wants it more.