It was all Raymond Daniels of Team All Stars with the glory at the 2014 Battle of Atlanta as Daniels took both the Extreme Warrior Challenge title and men’s sparring grands. Boasting the Extreme Warrior Challenge, the Battle has grown in numbers and excitement over the past few years. The weekend of June 20-21, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia was the time and place for this years event.
On Friday night at the event, Team Paul Mitchell won men’s team sparring, defeating Team NK’s Hamed Firouzi, Alex Dingmann and Ross Cooke to do so. Team NK was the team that eliminated The All Stars (Raymond Daniels, Robbie Lavoie and Joe Fife) in the prior semi-final match. Team DKS was the other semi-final team that lost to Team Paul Mitchell. There were 9 total teams.
Women had quite a few teams too and in the end, Team Str8Up’s RaeLynn Perkins and Robyn Lebuffe defeated the hybrid team of Chelsey Nash and Nikki Pelland by only one point.
In the Extreme Warrior Challenge run offs, the fights were heated. The fighters were divided into three weight classes with the winner of each receiving a $500 prize. The three top fighters from the weight classes then moved to the semi-finals where the defending champion Raymond Daniels joined them to all fight for an overall champion for the $5000 prize money.
In the lightweight fights, Landon Reynolds was in the game with a win over Paris Wilson but he fell to the hands and feet of Robbie Lavoie in a later round. Hamed Firouzi returned to competition and faced Robbie Lavoie in his second round. In a good match, it was Lavoie who advanced. Lavoie ended up with the Lightweight win.
For the middleweights, Kameren Dawson fell victim to his nemesis Kodaq Wray. Wray made it to the final match against Abid Benwali and Benwali defeated Wray to advance to the stage.
The heavyweight fights brought controversy (of course). The final fight came down to Trevor Nash and Brian Ruth. As Nash was throwing a left leg kick, Ruth tried a sweep on the standing leg and hit Nash in his right knee while Nash’s leg did not move. Nash went down screaming in pain and quite upset. After a lot of controversy, it would be Nash to advance to the stage but he was ultimately unable to continue to compete with his injured knee.
Friday night was also a big night for forms and weapons. The 16-17 boys musical weapons division ended with Jackson Rudolph as the winner after every other competitor dropped his weapon. Reid Presley, Kyle Montagna and Tyler Weaver all advanced to the run offs or finals for weapons. Caitlin Dechelle did what she does best – win – in a lot of forms and weapons divisions for women. Micayla Johnson was able to win women’s creative weapons.
It was awesome to get to see Jon Valera, Carmichael Simon and Jeremy Marinas hanging out at the event to run the 720 kick contest. Competitors had to perform 5 versions of the 720 kick with the final three competitors advancing to the stage for a final competition for cash. Four competitors advanced to the stage – Jefferson Lewis, Maxwell Van Eck, Allen Davies and Aidan Kennedy. Kennedy got into the final four after a tie breaker with Tyler Weaver where both had to break boards with their 720 kick.
Saturday brought fighting eliminations and grands for executives and men as well as the eliminations for the rest of the forms and weapons competition. Chris Chastain managed to battle through all the executives to take the 50 & over fighting grands. The final four women’s competitors were Kelsy Friedlander, Raelynn Perkins, Chelsey Nash and Gina Thornton. Nash and Thornton fought first to get down to the final two. In their low scoring match, Nash managed to come out in the lead with a score of 2-1 and Nash advanced to the state. Perkins then defeated Friedlander 5-4 for the final position on stage for women’s fighting.
The final four for the men’s fighting competition were Zsolt Moradi, Ryan George, Justin Ortiz and defending champion Raymond Daniels. This final foursome put on some incredible fights for the grand championships. First, Ortiz fought teammate Moradi in the semi-finals. Ortiz was on his game and fought the larger Moradi with great strategy. In the Daniels and George fight, Daniels started strong and the crowd went crazy as George mounted an awesome comeback. However, it was not enough as Daniels scored at the buzzer to win 6-5.
In the grand championship fight, Daniels fought Ortiz in 2 rounds. Despite his smaller size, Ortiz fought brilliantly and found himself up 4-3 after the end of the first round. In round two, Ortiz continued to hold his own against the larger Daniels. At the end of the round, it was tied 6-6 and the match went into sudden victory overtime. The rules require a competitor to win by at least two points and Daniels was the one able to make that happen this time. Daniels scored two backlist over the top to grab the grand championship title.
The Battle finals featured the best performers from the event in adult and junior forms, fighting and weapons. The kids had some fights on stage showcasing the up-and-coming talent. Jalon Carr defeated Caleb Green for the 14-15 boys overall point title. For the 16-17 girls fighting match, it was Ally Montero with the win over Alex Pyles.
Jake Presley open the evening finals with a routine with Jackson Rudolph and Presley also took the 13 & under weapons grands with his bo. Presley was joined in the winner’s circle by friend and mentor Jackson Rudolph as Rudolph wins the 14-17 weapons overall grands.
Kieran Tamondong has been tearing it up in forms all year and this event was no exception as he was the champion in 13 & under forms. The kids 14-17 forms competition was a good one for Jacob Pinto, he managed to take the win over Derek Meegan, Mackensi Emory and Sage Sweeny.
In adult weapons, a drop of the bo took Jenny Espina out of the running. It was Caitlin Dechelle with the weapons’ title for the evening. Dechelle was not satisfied with one and went on to defeat Becca Ross and Stephannie Figueroa for the women’s forms championship as well.
The men’s weapons battle was intense. Kyle Montagna performed with a blindfold on. Reid Presley let loose with his double bo performance and Stephen Grasz went extra hard with his traditional sword. Tyler Weaver checked out the competition and stepped it up with his kama routine. It was a close one but Weaver edged out Grasz for the win.
In adult fighting, the final competition was the women’s sparring grand championship and the Extreme Warrior Challenge Finals. For the women, Chelsey Nash of Team All Stars took on Raelynn Perkins of Team Straight Up. In the two round fight, Nash held nothing back. With her brother Trevor Nash coaching her, she was up 4-0 after round one. In the second round, Nash went up 11-1 to win with a 10 point spread to take the title.
For the Extreme Warrior Challenge Finals, Robbie Lavoie fight faced Abid Benwali to determine who would face Raymond Daniels in the finals. At the buzzer, Lavoie was up 4-0 to move on in the competition. Lavoie was back in the ring after suffering a groin muscle injury 3 months prior. He faced teammate Raymond Daniels with Daniels being nearly twice Lavoie’s size. But Lavoie never backed down and was only down by 2 points at the end of the first round. The second round was too much for Lavoie and Daniels got up by a larger lead to go on for his second Extreme Warrior Challenge title in two years.
Leading the charge in the team competition was KICK Team as champions in demo team competition. Hot on the heels of KICK Team, Team Paul Mitchell’s Tyler Weaver and Mackensi Emory won the synchronized team competition.
The historic 720 Challenge featured technique by the four challengers. They were required to perform the five techniques in the air, on boards and in a fight sequence. In the end, it was Jefferson Lewis with the win and Max Van Eck as the runner up.
Men’s forms was the place for Team Amerikick to shine as 3 out of the four competitors were Amerikick members. Tyler Weaver was the sole non-Amerikick competitor with Jarrett Leiker, Stephen Grasz and Michael Guthrie representing Amerikick. Guthrie has been making a name for himself in 2014 and at the Battle, he did his team proud with one perfect 10 from a judge and the overall men’s forms title.
The fighting was fierce and the competition outstanding at the 2014 Battle of Atlanta. From the opening demo to live and taped interviews during the finals, the event put on a great finals show. Congratulations to Raymond Daniels for his second Extreme Warrior Challenge title.