Welcome to the cage: Local fighters showcase their skills at MMA event

Kathy Harrison | The Log
Local fighters Brooks Conley and Chris Falasca participated in Friday's Caged Combat 5 event at the Emerald Coast Convention Center.

Vegas Baby! Well not really, it was The Emerald Coast Convention Center, but wow what a night! With 17 bouts scheduled, and most of the fighters local athletes, no one went home disappointed after Friday’s Caged Combat event. It was a sold out crowd of about 1,500 people.

It is not my first coverage of MMA fights, but this one was different all the way from the beginning. My contacts Keith Wood and Paul Domenech, who together own Caged Combat ( Paul is also the match maker) did not waste time answering my call and made sure we were informed and familiar with the venue once we made it there.  With the cage in the center of the room, followed with the VIP area and the general admission, there was not a bad seat in the house and there was plenty of food and drinks throughout the night.

One by one the fighters came from the locker room and stood on a small stage where smoke came out as their entrance music played. An official inspected them just before entering the cage. And then, a brief introduction by the MC, David Hardy Jr., some last words from the referee, and then… Fight! There were many followers and some took notes and became new followers in the end. I know I did.

While I was looking forward to the whole event, it was local fighters Brooks Conley and Chris Falasca from Destin, who I was curious about. First came Brooks, who resembles Irish MMA fighter, Conor McGregor with his beard and Mohawk look. He made his way in the ring looking calm, confident.  His opponent Votpka Clarks from Apopka, Fla. was too.

There was no shortage of  excitement from both fighters. It was a unanimous decision, in favor of Brooks for the win. Shortly after the last fight of the night and a fight for the welterweight title belt between Falasca and Jared Gonsalves from Winter Heaven, Fla. The fight also ended in a unanimous decision and with Gonsalves becoming the new MMA Solutions North Florida Welterweight Champion.

The highlight of the night was when Josh Crumpton from Watumpka, Ala. proposed to his now fiancé Brianna Smith after tapping out in the second round of his fight with Erik Pryor from Navarre Beach. It was a surprise for Brianna, a cage fighter herself who won her last fight in Caged Combat No. 4 back in October 2014 against Vanessa Marie-Grimes.

Crumpton called her up and took a knee in the middle of the cage and with the collaboration of the MC and Domenech, who was holding the ring in his hand. He proposed in front of everyone who cheered and clapped as she said “yes.”

Some of the fights may not have gone as planned for some, but one thing is for sure, the camaraderie between the fighters, the professionalism of everyone from the fighters, the coaches and the officials was by far the biggest winners of all. It may not be Vegas baby, but it is in my backyard. With people who love the sport and believe in the talent this area brings, and for that…ding, ding May 22nd baby!

For more information go to To see more photos from Caged Combat 5 CLICK HERE.

Here are the results from all of the 17 bouts

FIGHT 1 - Bantamweight Match SPONSORED BY: Emerald Coast Inn & Suites Chris Aiken vs Robert Gillon Gillon wins via Ref Stoppage due to Strikes of R3

FIGHT 2 - Flyweight Match SPONSORED BY: Village Inn of Destin Brandon Grooms vs Stefano LoPiccolo LoPiccolo wins via Tapout due to Rear Naked Choke @ 0:33 of R1

FIGHT 3 - Welterweight Match SPONSORED BY: Atlas Fights Jeremiah Hual vs Jeremy Henley Henley wins via Knockout @ 0:13 of R1

FIGHT 4 - Lightweight Match SPONSORED BY: Piel Photography Mark Cain vs Desmond Peterson Peterson wins via Knockout @ 0:07 of R1

FIGHT 5 - Heavyweight Match SPONSORED BY: MMA Solutions Global Charles Bullock vs Travis Cruz No Contest due to Ref Stoppage

FIGHT 6 - Flyweight Match SPONSORED BY: Bodyworks By Bull Jay Bruno vs Jerald Colbert Colbert wins via Unanimous Decision

FIGHT 7 - Lightweight Match SPONSORED BY: The Boardwalk Devin Hall vs Jarred McConnell Hall wins via scissor choke @ 2:05 of R1

FIGHT 8 - Middleweight Match SPONSORED BY: A World of Signs Dillon Summers vs Isaac Stackhouse Stackhouse wins via Arm Bar @ 2:56 of R3

FIGHT 9 - Lightweight Match SPONSORED BY: Joe & Eddie's Family Restaurant Raine King vs Kyle Miller Miller wins via Split Decision

FIGHT 10 - Flyweight Match SPONSORED BY: The Swamp Craig Roberts vs Dale Fulkerson Roberts wins via Tapout due to Guillotine @ 0:42 of R1

FIGHT 11 - Middleweight Match SPONSORED BY: MMA Roadshow Don Buck vs Caleb Fisher Fisher wins via TKO due to Strikes @ 2:49 of R1

FIGHT 12 - Lightweight Match SPONSORED BY: Coast To Coast Insurance Josh Crumpton vs Erik Pryor Pryor wins via Choke @ 2:13 of R2

FIGHT 13 - Pensacola Boxing Academy MMA Bantamweight Title Match SPONSORED BY: Nighttown Tyler Dew vs Jason Chapman Chapman wins via Tapout due to Strikes @ 2:05 of R1

FIGHT 14 - Welterweight Match SPONSORED BY: Big Iron Environmental Votypka Clark vs Brooks Conley Conley wins via Unanimous Decision

FIGHT 15 - Heavyweight Match SPONSORED BY: ERA American Real Estates R J Summerlin vs Billy Goode Summerlin wins via TKO due to Strikes @ 2:21 of R1

COMAIN EVENT - Lightweight Match SPONSORED BY: Vapor Planet Terryn Williams vs Clay Witt Witt wins via Tapout due to Guilitine @ 1:21 of R1

MAIN EVENT - MMA Solutions North Florida Featherweight Title Match SPONSORED BY: Vapor Planet Chris Falasca vs Jared Gonsalves Gonsalves wins via Unanimous Decision becoming the NEW MMA Solutions North Florida Welterweight Champion