Fighting, fighting and more fighting – combat was on the mind for the 2016 Battle of Atlanta. The event, held June 17-18, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia, delivered.

Top teams were on hand to compete for the team sparring challenge and both the adult and youth sparring divisions were filled with amazing match-ups, victories and defeats.

The event was the debut of the new Team Paul Mitchell line up that included the additions of Tamas Imre and Richard Veres of Hungary. Team Paul Mitchell’s double team line-ups looked to have the advantage as competition began. Team 1, consisting of Justin Ortiz, Zsolt Moradi and Laszlo Gombos – the veterans of the team, made it through their bracket to advance to the finals. Team 2, consisting of Kameren Dawson, Tamas Imre and Richard Veres also advanced. To face them, Team Bring It (Brayan Rodriguez, Ibrahim Morales and Chris Ellis) and Team WKF (Jim Haymore, Ryan George and guest Christopher Robinson) both made it through their respective brackets as well.

In addition to fighting, the Battle offered great competition in forms and weapons for black belts and under belts. In the under belt competition, PJ Clark was the 13 & Under winner while Justin Olds was the 14-17 winner. In the black belt competition, Aidan Kennedy, Mason Stowell and Haley Glass showed everyone they can whip and nae nae on stage but it was Kennedy with the win in 13 & under forms. Jake Presley brought home the 13 & Under weapons grand championship title for the night.

For the older kids, Allen Davies continues to impress with an overall win in the 14-17 forms competition. Derek Meegan of California also continues his winning ways with the overall weapons title in the 14-17 category – he has won at least one grand champion title at every NASKA event this year.

In the men’s traditional forms competition, young Ariel Torres has transitioned into adulthood with a bang. He was again the overall traditional forms winner. More traditional won in the synchronized team challenge as Kieran Tamondong and Emma Teo’s traditional routine defeated the weapons performance of Jackson Rudolph and Jake Presley.

Sammy Smith likes to win and her double titles at the 2016 Battle of Atlanta proves it. She was the overall women’s forms AND overall women’s weapons winner. Smith was challenged by Tyler Weaver, Jr who also brought home double overall wins in both men’s CMX forms and men’s weapons.

The Battle offered a Friday Night Fight show and the Saturday Battle Zone show. Both were action packed with entertainment for all. And a lot of fighting.

In the men’s lightweight competition, Willie Hicks faced off against John Curatolo for the men’s lightweight grand championships. It was Hicks with the experience who overcame Curaloto’s flexibility and kicks. It was a super great event for new Team Paul Mitchell member, Tamas Imre. Imre dominated in the men’s heavyweight competition and found himself facing Brayan Rodriguez of Team Bring It on stage for the men’s heavyweight grand championship. Imre didn’t let a little jet lag or first time on a NASKA stage jitters have any effect. After a slightly slow start, he picked it up and proved that he may be the heavyweight to watch with a big win and the title.

For women’s sparring, the formidable Morgan Plowden faced Minnesota’s Ashley Firouzi. The taller Plowden was able to defend against Firouzi’s attacks with a final score of 10-3 for Plowden as she took the win.

Team Paul Mitchell 1 found itself facing Team WKF in the first team fight semi-final on stage. WKF’s Christopher Robinson did his job and ended the first round against Justin Ortiz up by 1 with a score of 2-1. In the second round, Zsolt Moradi used his hands to pull ahead by 2 points over Jim Haymore. But then Ryan “Clutch” George got on stage and did his job, tying the score 6-6 at the buzzer and then scoring with a winning blitz to advance.

The match between Team Paul Mitchell 2 and Team Bring it started with Bring It up by one but Paul Mitchell anchor, Tamas Imre, had a rematch against Brayan Rodriguez for the final match and Imre pulled ahead by 5 at one point and held it through the buzzer.

The final match was Team Paul Mitchell 2 against Team WKF – and it was a match to remember. In round one, again Christopher Robinson proved he’s got what it takes as he held Kameren Dawson to a score of only 3-2 with WKF down by one going into round two. Jim Haymore chased the smaller Richard Veres around the ring and frustrated Veres as Veres was only able to score one point in the round. The final match between George and Imre had George down by two points. George was able to bring the match back to another 6-6 score at the buzzer. In overtime, George proved his clutch status as he was able to tag Imre with a side kick to the body for two points and the dramatic win by WKF.

As people filed out of the event with the WKF fighters still high on their win, it was clear that the 2016 Battle of Atlanta lived up to the hype.

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