Twelve weeks after two of the most talent-laden amateur tournaments in female mixed martial arts history began, 16 fighters have become four.
Tuff-N-Uff returns to the Orleans Hotel & Casino’s Mardi Gras Ballroom in Las Vegas on Friday, September 24, and Las Vegas’ premier amateur fight promotion crowns its first-ever female champions in the 125- and 135-pound divisions with the conclusion of a pair of eight-woman brackets.
Women’s title fights of Stephanie Eggink vs. Jennie Yum and Tsui-Jen Cunanan vs. Ashley Weakley fill the evening’s co-feature slots, while the main event sees Tyson Chartier and Dustin Chevalier meet with Tuff-N-Uff’s vacant lightweight title (relinquished by former champion Ryan Couture, who turned pro in August) on the line.
Tickets for Tuff-N-Uff’s Sept. 24 event, which start at just $25, are available at the Orleans Hotel & Casino’s box office or online at www.OrleansCasino.com and www.TuffNUff.net. Fans from around the globe can watch the fights live at www.GoFightLive.com or TuffNUff.net.
Chartier (7-0), who trains out of Massachusetts’ famed Sityodtong USA academy, brings an unblemished mark to the ring. While equipped with the dangerous Muay Thai that has become the hallmark of the Sityodtong camp, Chartier has also flashed dangerous grappling skills in a handful of submission victories.
Chartier is currently eyeing the professional ranks, but he hopes to add the prestigious Tuff-N-Uff belt to his trophy case before ending his amateur career.
Meanwhile, three-time Tuff-N-Uff veteran Chevalier (3-2) looks to play the role of spoiler.
After suffering a shocking 14-second loss in his most recent outing, a welterweight contest, the gritty Chevalier now makes his debut in the lightweight division. Chevalier’s three career wins, all earned at 170 pounds, were all earned in the opening round, so expect a contest heavy in early action.
In the 125-pound tournament finals, explosive strikers Eggink (2-0) and Yum (6-0) meet in a battle of unbeatens that appears sure to thrill.Eggink, who also boasts a 12-1 record as an amateur boxer, earned her spot in the finals with a hard-fought decision win over a tough Katie Klimansky.
Prior to the semifinal win, Eggink claimed impressive victory over Jillian Lybarger. The West Coast Fight Club product threatened with a triangle choke in the opening round before finally securing the hold in the third. A spinning backfist also hit its mark before the final tap.
Meanwhile, Yum advanced to the tournament final in spectacular fashion with a 14-second spinning-back-kick knockout of Lindsay Jones. Shockingly, the win was not the fastest of Yum’s career, as she earned a nine-second victory in April 2009.
Yum entered the tournament as the early favorite, and while first-round opponent Nicole Hess pushed her to the limit, little has changed. Yum survived a scare after being caught in an armbar in the second round of her quarterfinal bout, but with six-straight wins to open her career, she remains the woman to beat.
And in the other tournament final, Cunanan (2-1) and Weakley (4-0) square off with the 135-pound belt on the line.
Cunanan returns for the final bout despite suffering a controversial split-decision loss in the bracket’s semifinal. Emily Peters-Kagan, who walked away with the hotly contested win in August, suffered a hand injury and was forced to withdraw – thus allowing Cunanan a shot at redemption. Cunanan impressed in a July quarterfinal bout by swarming a favored Mollie Estes from the opening bell. The Phoenix Combat Academy product rocked her opponent early in the opening round before locking in a fight-ending guillotine choke.
Weakley brings an unblemished record to the finals after submitting Jillian Lybarger in just 77 seconds.
Prior to that semifinal win, Weakley earned a unanimous-decision victory against a tough Peters-Kagan in the tournament’s opening round. The undefeated Team Leo Dalla fighter, nicknamed “Baby Tyger,” showed a powerful Thai clinch as she battered her opponent with brutal knees throughout.
In other featured matchups, undefeated Xtreme Couture product Jake Swinney (3-0) faces fellow top prospect Travis Wright (5-0) from 10th Planet Riverside, and fan-favorite Keith “The Baddest Man in the Boardroom” Tubin (1-1) returns to action to face Team Wand fighter Jason Rivera (1-0). In addition to the evening’s featured matchups, a full lineup of aspiring amateur fighters from some of the world’s top academies, including Fasi/Drysdale, Striking Unlimited and TapouT Las Vegas, will compete at Tuff-N-Uff’s Sept. 24 event.