By Larry Snyder
Erie, Pa. – Reclaiming center stage Saturday, Aug. 10, at the Bayfront Convention Center, Bizzarro Promotions provided a capacity crowd a high-voltage evening of Mixed Martial Arts combat. The duo of Ernie Bizzarro and matchmaker Nichole Castillo assembled 22 determined warriors for 11 matches at Bayfront Brawl 8 in the Flagship City.
Fans of Erie’s Nolan Stahl saw his break out moment as he moved out of the amateur ranks and collected a victory in his debut as a professional flyweight over Joshua Oxendine from Pembroke, North Carolina. After three closely contested rounds the 27-year-old, who trains at 3 Elements Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and MMA, swept the judge’s scorecards 29-28 for a unanimous decision in the main event.
Stahl did not allow Oxendine’s height and superior reach to take over the match. He kept landing low kicks to the 25-year-old North Carolinians’ lead leg to help curb his attack. Stahl also delivered effective takedowns over the first two rounds to try and create separation.
Deborah Carbone, one of boxing and MMA’s elite photographers, who was on Oxendine’s side of the cage, commented “Joshua blew his knee out in the first round. Being the Marine he was he continued into the second and third rounds, delivering blows and showing no pain. He is the true definition of a fighter. He never quit.”
Pittsburgh’s A.J. Wilkins confronted Joe Sofranko from Sharon, PA in the co-feature event for the Bizzarro Promotions Flyweight Amateur Championship. The 24-year-old from the City of Bridges quickly slammed his opponent to the mat to seize the upper hand. Sofranko briefly reversed positions, but Wilkins applied a triangle choke at 2:27 of the first to earn the victory by submission.
Wilkins won his third consecutive fight and his second amateur flyweight crown as he collected the Caged Thunder title Saturday, April 21, 2018, against Brandon Birr in Akron, Ohio. Tapology.com rates Wilkins, who developed his skills at Stout Training, at No. 12 among active U.S. Midwest Amateur Flyweights.
Elijah Humes, 24, successfully defended his BP Lightweight Amateur Championship against Collin Caprini from Morgantown, West Virginia. The bell to start the match had barely faded when Humes got his hands going to dominate the bout with devastating strikes. He generated a technical knockout just 49 seconds into the opening frame.
The Erie native captured the Lightweight Amateur title against Eric Pozun at Bayfront Brawl 7 in May 2019. The cage observers at Tapology rank him sixth among Pennsylvania Amateur Lightweights.
Leading off the trio of amateur championship bouts were Desmond Carroll and Shawn Reynolds squaring off for the BP Light Heavyweight Championship. Reynolds used his superior wrestling skills to dictate the flow for most of the battle.
In an attempt to determine Reynolds’ condition, after Carroll threw strikes to his opponent’s head while both were on the mat, referee Chip Snider had to pull Carroll off Reynolds and physically escort him to the side of the cage after Carroll pushed Snider away not once, but twice, causing controversy in the second.
When the match resumed, Reynolds took back control for the remainder of the bout. After three rounds, the judges’ scorecards all read 30-27 to give the undefeated Reynolds his fourth win and the title by unanimous decision.
Bayfront Brawl Professional Bout:
Nolan Stahl (1-0-0) WINS By Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) Vs. Joshua Oxendine (0-2-0)
Bayfront Brawl Amateur Bouts:
Flyweight Title – A.J. Wilkins (6-1-0) WINS By Triangle Choke Submission At 2:27 Of Round 1 Vs. Joe Sofranko (4-2-0)
Lightweight Title – Elijah Humes (5-1-0) WINS By TKO On Strikes At 49 Seconds Into Rnd 1 Vs. Collin Caprini (5-3-0)
Light Heavyweight Title – Shawn Reynolds (4-0-0) WINS By Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) Vs. Desmond Carroll (1-4-0)
Chris Matthews (2-0-0) WINS By Arm Triangle Submission At 1:22 Of Rnd 1 Vs. Brandon Chavez (0-1-0)
Jeremiah Leviege (4-4-0) WINS By Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) Vs.Elias Buhl (2-3-0)
Joshua Cummings (1-1-0) WINS By Arm Bar Submission At 1:47 Of Rnd 2 Vs. Corey Husband (1-1-0)
Daniel (DJ) Jacobucci (2-1-0) WINS By Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) Vs. Jeremy Sakuta (4-8-0)
Katie Hicks (1-0-0) WINS By Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) Vs. Alanna Yungwirth (0-1-0)
Cody Ryan (1-1-0) WINS By Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27) Vs. Matt Webster (0-2-0)
Tony Recco (1-0-0) WINS By TKO On Strikes At 57 Seconds Into Rnd 3 Vs. Kiran Shah (1-1-0)
Voice Of The Fighter: After their respective matches, Humes and Wilkins told ring announcer Jaz Securo they are ready to forge ahead and turn professional. The two, in my opinion, looked impressive and should easily transition to the next chapter of their careers.
Cage Clipboard: Chip Snider did an outstanding job as the referee over the entire 11 matches. He maintained control of every bout and rightfully applied the rules to ensure equitable and safe contests.
Nichole Castillo enjoyed the entire evening “once the lights went down” and was impressed by the robust exchanges of Alanna Yungwirth and Katie Hicks in the women’s matchup. Her reflection: “They came out blazing!”
Tim Fairbanks, owner, analyst, and commentator for the Bring The Fight podcast out of Cleveland, Ohio, wrote about Daniel (DJ) Jacobucci’s win over Jeremy Sakuta on Facebook, “Dj showed supreme focus and even cracked a few smiles in the cage last night. Dj dropped his opponent and nearly finished the fight early. Dj ended up getting the unanimous decision victory after using very effective grappling.”