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SPRING 2008

IN THIS ISSUE 6. COMBAT ZONE WCL Commissioner Cory Shafer previews the Conference Finals... Tommy Messano weighs in on his choices for All-WCL.

8. A DAY IN THE LIFE They call the WCL the longest three minutes in sports — Thomas Longacre leads us through the hours before fight time.

14. LIVING IN A BOURELLY WORLD It’s easy to get lost in Raymond Daniels’ shadow. Jason Bourelly doesn’t have that problem.

16. PARTING SHOT Chad Range spends a few minutes with the man himself, Chuck Norris.

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R FOR A LITTLE R& ROES” E “THE REAL H

At the Eastern playoffs in St. Louis, a capacity crowd of 5,000 crammed the arena. More than a thousand of those fans were troops from nearby bases. As St. Louis Coach Jesse Finney, said, “They’re the real heroes of the night.”

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RINGSIDE

WHAT’S ON

OUR FANS’ MINDS

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oth myself and the WCL office receive hundreds of letters each month from all corners of the world. Everyone has their suggestions on how to improve the league or they want to discuss an aspect that they particularly enjoy. Lots of fans are also interested in starting up a team in their city or may have creative ideas for new team names or colors. The suggestions are always welcomed. Below are a few letters we received this past month that are particularly representative. Keep those letters coming. We love to hear from our fans!

Why did you want to make an individual sport into a team event? What does this team element bring to the sport? —Jeff Connors, Florence, Alabama Back in 1974 when I retired from fighting, I decided to start a team concept of Kickboxing called, “The National Kickboxing League,” (NKL). I formed a five-person team in Los Angeles called the LA Stars. They fought three 2-minute rounds. The Stars fought teams in various cities throughout the country—Dallas, Detroit, Chicago, New York and so forth. We were drawing big crowds and I thought, “I'm on to something here.” At the same time I was trying to break into the film world. I was finally offered a starring role in, “Good Guys Wear Black.” So I had to make a choice, my film career won out, but the concept has been in the back of my mind all these years.

How often do fighters compete? Are the frequent knockouts an issue when it comes to fighters’ safety and longevity? —Paul Wagner, Plano, Texas About once a month. If they’re knocked out, they may have longer suspensions to make sure they’re medically fit to fight again. One important difference is that our fighters wear regulation 8 or 10 ounce boxing gloves. MMA fighters wear 4-ounce gloves with the fingers exposed. Remember Randy Couture almost lost an eye fighting Victor Belfort. I want my fighters to have a long career.

Given your open-minded approach to studying the martial arts, and the fact

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that you have long been involved with grappling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, did you ever consider running the WCL under MMA rules? If not, what were the reasons—given that MMA seems to be the fastest growing sport in the U.S. in recent years? —Tom Murphy, Weymouth, Mass. We’ve tried to make the World Combat League as or more exciting than MMA. I realized after watching MMA events for years that the stand up fighters were the most exciting. The fighters have become so proficient with the ground game that it has become extremely difficult to submit their opponent and so it gets quite boring. You can sense the crowd getting anxious when the pace is slow on the ground. That's why I believe the most exciting fighters in MMA are the men like Chuck Lidell, Rampage Jackson and Fedor Amelianenko. That’s the form of fighting I’ve tried to concentrate on with the WCL. We want to keep it full-throttle action.

How has the response been to the WCL so far? Has it been able to compete with the MMA & Muay Thai coverage on TV? —Rafael Martin, Barcelona, Spain Our television ratings both in the U.S. and internationally have been terrific. Truthfully, I didn’t know how the television show would do. People had to find it, and then to tune in and keep watching it. For us to have the success we’ve had is really incredible. Remember this is just our second season. Our crowd (at the Eastern Conference playoffs) in St. Louis packed the house and we had to turn 2,000 people away. So, we’re very pleased where we are.

Are you planning to expand the WCL internationally anytime soon? —Billy Martin, London, England Eventually we plan to have 24 teams in Europe, 24 teams in Asia and 24 teams in the Middle East. There are many great fighters in the world and we want to give them the forum to square off against each other. That’s when we’ll have a true World Combat League.

THE OFFICIAL MAGAZINE OF THE WORLD COMBAT LEAGUE FOUNDER/CHAIRMAN Chuck Norris PRESIDENT/ EXECUTIVE EDITOR Damien Di Ciolli DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS Lamar Green MANAGING EDITOR Tony Fay EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS Tommy Messano, Chad Range, Mark Thompson, Eric Lindberg, Jim Tolbert DESIGN Cathy Hutzler DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY Peter Robbins FIGHTER RELATIONS Shelly Di Ciolli, Ashley Ucker, Michael Smoot TELEVISION PRODUCTION Chris Brown, Justin Fuqua

PUBLISHED BY THE WORLD COMBAT LEAGUE P. O. Box 702508 Dallas, Texas 75370-2508 214.276.6900 worldcombatleague.com

TO ADVERTISE Eric Lindberg 214.276.6900

GROUP TICKET INFO Jim Tolbert 214.498.3557 Copyright © 2008 World Combat League. All rights are reserved. Reproduction without the permission of Turf Wars magazine is forbidden. Printed in the USA.

COVER PHOTO BY LAYNE MURDOCH

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NEWS & NOTES FROM AROUND THE WCL

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MUNAH HOLLAND

CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS

PREVIEW

It’s down to the Final Four — so how will this all play out? By Cory Shafer, WCL Commisioner With the first round behind us, it’s time to turn our focus fully on the WCL Conference Finals scheduled for May 3 in San Antonio. Each conference has been reduced to two teams; each committed to advancing the final step to the league championship.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Upsets ruled the Eastern Conference first-round as both match-ups were won by the odds-on underdogs. In a contest where the lead changed six times, was tied twice and was decided in the final match by only five points, the fourth seeded New York Clash slid by the top seeded Miami Force. They will face the New Jersey Tigers, who got past the defending champion St. Louis Enforcers by a mere two points in a contest where the lead changed five times, was tied once and also had victory determined in the final match of the night. It just doesn’t get any better than that. When the Tigers enter the Combat Zone against the Clash for the Eastern Conference title we should see a battle of metro-menacing proportions. These teams match up very well with what might be considered off-setting advantages for both clubs in different weight categories. Everyone is looking forward to the rematch between rookie of the year candidate, Munah Holland and last year’s second place scoring leader, Jennifer Santiago. Last time these two met they put on a show of epic proportions with each claiming victory in one of the two matches. New Jersey has the edge at Cruiserweight, with perhaps the best roster in the league at 195 lbs. Uriah Hall has been unstoppable and his partner Carlos Brooks hasn’t lost a match all season either. The Clash will counter with new addition, Brandon Banda, who earned fight of the night honors against Miami’s Armin Mrkanovic in the first-round event. New York will need to replace their back up, Mark Gee who is out for the remainder of the season with a shoulder separation. New York has the advantage at 164 lbs. with the fearless young phenom, Leo Valdivia. This 19 year old sport karate fighter combines his often relentless attack with a great chin and brilliant defensive footwork. New Jersey may look for

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CHAMPIONSHIP TIX NOW ON SALE WHERE: Expo Square Pavilion (Tulsa, OK) WHO: TBD TIME: 7:30 p.m. WHEN: Saturday, June 7 TICKET INFO: Exposquare.com, 214-276-6903 GROUP TICKET DISCOUNTS ARE AVAILABLE


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COMBAT ZONE recruiting help both at 164 and 178 lbs. in an effort to firm up those positions. At heavyweight Jarrel “King Achilles” Miller and John “The Panther” James will be formidable for Jersey. New York’s Terry Bullman, who fought valiantly against Rick Cheeks in the playoffs (earning a draw in the second half) will need to be on top of his game to neutralize Jersey’s giants. In the end, this contest will likely be determined by the team whose fighters commit to sealing the deal. It’s all about the KOs. The Eastern Conference Championship will be a close contest claimed by the team that scores the most knockouts.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Never has the expression “Success is in the Details” been more accurate than how it applies to the Western Conference Finals. Both the Oklahoma Destroyers and the Los Angeles Stars advanced to the finals with spectacular performances in the first-round. And now they will rematch their season opening effort to determine which team will represent the west in the league championship. When they last met on Oct. 19 in Denver, the Stars claimed victory by 20 points. But don’t be deceived. Fifteen of those points were due to a technical disqualification when the Destroyers alternate at 178 lbs. failed to make weight for the contest meaning that the actual competition was only separated by a narrow six points (which is essentially a margin equal to single clear victory going one way or the other in just one three-minute match). The Western Conference Final is going to be all about what each team has learned throughout the season and the adjustment that the coach’s will make in preparation for this critical contest. Granted, LA’s Raymond Daniels and Jason Bourelly are both veritable nightmares to match-up against, but Dale Cook’s Destroyers have demonstrated consistent knockout power in four of their six weight classes. Look for “cloak and dagger” type secrecy in the weeks coming up to the event as each coach will try to out- think his opponent in putting together his final rosters and starting lineups. Here are some of the variables. David Taylor has been terrific for Oklahoma filling in at 178 lbs. in their last two contests (outscoring his combined opponents 60-16), but he does not match-up well with LA’s team leader Daniels. Coach Cook will likely look to make a change in this division order to help “contain” the Real Deal. When Bourelly and Anthony Njokuani crossed swords back in October neither were able to carve out a significant advantage over the other. This is a key match-up that could tip the contest toward the team whose fighter has figured out how to capitalize on this severe clash of styles. Thomas “Thunderkick” Longacre will need to sure up his defense without taking the edge off his attack versus the Stars’ Jack “Flash” Felton. Last time out Thunderkick was relentless, but Felton was able to counter him effectively with straight punches, dropping Longacre once in the process. Los Angeles has spent the entire season trying out new heavyweights in an effort to find the right fit. They’ll need to really make it happen for this show or risk giving away serious points to Oklahoma’s Alex Beck and veteran Pat Smith. The bottom line is that Oklahoma will need to find a way to contain Daniels and Bourelly (not allow them the four combined KO’s they scored their last time out) and then capitalize big in the divisions where they have an advantage.

ONE MAN’S OPINION

Tommy Messano represents just one vote — but he’s a pretty good gauge to look at when judging the top fighters in the WCL. The official All-WCL teams won’t be announced until prior to the Finals this June, but Messano was good enough to reveal how he’s leaning. The team is based on regular season performance and fighters required a minimum of three fights in the ‘07-08 campaign to be eligible.

ALL WCL TEAM EAST 128 lbs. Munah Holland, NJ Always up for a battle every time she fights

147 lbs. Craig Oxley, MIA Deceptive power put Oxley on the map

164 lbs. Fernando Calleros, STL K-1 vet Calleros ran rough shot through his division

178 lbs. Kevin Engel, STL Engel’s owns slick boxing credentials and the ability to finish

195 lbs. Uriah Hall, NJ Came out of nowhere to lead team to Finals

235 lbs. John James, NJ Big bounce back year as James cleared out the heavyweights

ALL WCL TEAM WEST 128 lbs. Alicia Ashley, LA A quiet, undefeated record for Ashley

147 lbs. Jack Felton, LA Felton continued success from ‘06-07, in a tough weight class

164 lbs. Jason Bourelly, LA Fighter of ‘07-08, Bourelly beat the WCL’s best with ease

178 lbs. Raymond Daniels, LA 3 KO’s this year, Daniels has potential to get even better

195 lbs. Jesse Lawrence, OK Lawrence found his groove this season

235 lbs. Eddie Burris, DEN Strong and agile, Burris is a well rounded big man

SPECIAL AWARDS COACH OF THE YEAR John Morrison, MIA

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR Eddie Burris, DEN FIGHTER OF THE YEAR Jason Bourelly, LA

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WHEN IT'S TIME TO FIGHT, THE OKLAHOMA DESTROYERS ANSWER THE BELL. HERE'S A LOOK AT THE SMALL MOMENTS THAT LEAD TO THE BIG FIGHT. PHOTOGRAPHS BY Jeremy Charles WORDS BY Thomas Longacre

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“The Karate Nomad” looks to lead the Stars to the Promised Land By Tommy Messano ason Bourelly lives and breaths martial arts, it floats in his breakfast cereal and covers his bed sheets. Maybe not to that extreme but, nevertheless Bourelly is the quintessential modern martial artist. He also is the best 164 lb. fighter in the World Combat League. Bourelly’s 6-0 regular season streak in one of league’s deeper divisions has earned him fighter of the year consideration. Bourelly took to martial arts at a young age. His stepfather, Larry Tankson, opened up a karate school in Chicago when Jason was just a one-year-old. With Chicago having a rich tradition of being a fight town, Bourelly grew up and trained with some of the toughest fighters in the Midwest.

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“My parents were good at keeping me occupied with positive things,” Bourelly says. “I didn’t go outside to play a lot. So, I guess it was kind of a rough area but I didn’t see much of it.” With leadership skills built into him, Bourelly’s current 9-to-5 is lead instructor at his own dojo: Elite Martial Arts, located in New Jersey. He co-owns the gym with his wife, Kim, who he met on the karate circuit. Bourelly is living the American dream with a slight martial arts tint. After graduating high school, Bourelly became a journeyman of sorts, traveling from city to city on a three year road trip using his karate talents to get jobs at local schools. With one semester at Florida International University under his belt, Bourelly moved back to Chi-town before landing in to work and train for a year. The beaches of Southern California came calling next as Bourelly gained more life experience. Earning the nickname “the karate nomad” while in the predominantly French speaking Quebec City, Canada, Bourelly added to his martial arts pedigree with extensive boxing training during his stay in the Great White North. “It was an adventure. I met a lot of different and wonderful people. I learned a lot of martial arts.” Bourelly says. “I really give my mom a lot of credit. What she would always tell me is that, ‘you’re not a orphan, you can always come back home.’ My mom really gave me the confidence to try those different things.” Returning to his hometown, Bourelly soon realized he had the ability to turn his passion into his career. “I never really thought I could make a career out my karate competitions. I was just having a lot of fun with it. “I never thought I would be a professional fighter, like I am now. It’s been really good for me since I started with the WCL.” A four year track star in high school Bourelly is a modest, but natural athlete. Possessing the type of God given athletic ability that would have allowed him to excel at any sport he chose. “Track was my sport,” Bourelly says. “I thought I was going to be a track star. But I was successful in my younger years with karate. I just couldn’t set it down.” From not taking off his gi to starring on national sport karate teams, Bourelly quickly became one of the best point fighters in the country. Before his 26th birthday Bourelly was recruited by the WCL to test his talents in a full contact forum. The influx of sport karate stars into the WCL paid off for league organizers immediately. Jason Bourelly headlines a list of point fighters that have made a successful transition into full contact fighting. “They just kind of picked me up from the karate circuit. Myself, Raymond Daniels, Jack Felton, Jennifer Santiago,” Bourelly says. “They liked our style, the showmanship. I don’t think the WCL was looking for a kickboxing style. They were looking for something

new, something fresh. They gave us a chance.” Capitalizing on every opportunity in his life, Bourelly currently has a 14 fight winning streak to hang his hat on and his L.A. Stars team sits on the cusp of a league championship. Felton and Daniels now join Bourelly on a Los Angeles squad that reads more like a carefully constructed all star team rather than your average WCL roster. It may surprise some that Daniels and Bourelly weren’t always buddy-buddy. Two of the best fighters in the league also happen to be two of the most competitive.

“I thought I was going to be a track star. But I was successful in my younger years with karate. I just couldn’t set it down.” “At one point when we were teenagers, we were teammates.” Bourelly says. “When we both kind of came into our own, we were rivals. We were on two separate karate national teams and we were at each other all the time.” Having matured over the years Bourelly now calls Daniels his best friend on the Stars. Both fighters push each other to put on better in-ring performances with flashy strikes and devastating KOs. “When it comes to the all the karate people, I know he’s my best friend. He’s an awesome person," Bourelly says. On life’s checklist Bourelly is doing pretty well. Flourishing professional fight career. Check. A school to call your own. Check. Happy marriage to a fellow black belt. Check. So, what do you give to the fighter who has it all? How about the promise that at 28 years old he will only get better with each passing WCL fight. Right now Bourelly is balancing his hectic work schedule with his own fight preparation. Without a full stable of coaches and training partners, Bourelly is at a disadvantage. “Its not easy, I have to motivate myself and train myself.” Bourelly says. “I haven’t been able to train like I want to.” 15-1 as a professional fighter and a full time teacher is nothing to sneeze at. “I think next season you’ll see a better Jason Bourelly. I’ve been pretty good this season.” Bourelly says “When I get some professional fighters to train around me I think you’ll see a much better Jason Bourelly.” The “pretty good” Jason Bourelly has MVP trophies and WCL championships dancing in his head. His next move when he steps into the ring won’t be an ax kick or a right hook, but it will be turning daydreams into reality. Tommy Messano is a freelance journalist who covers Mixed Martial Arts. TURF WARS worldcombatleague.com

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PARTING SHOT

THE

MAN WITH

A PLAN

Chuck Norris shares his vision for the WCL

By Chad Range

W

ho better to start a fight league then Chuck Norris? He is a six time martial arts world champion and a true icon. I caught up with the man that is shrouded in folklore to see how this whole fight league came about. I found out some very interesting details. Rome was not built in a day, and the World Combat League won’t be either. However, the foundation has been laid. It’s a dream that is 34-years-old, dating back to 1974. Chuck Norris started a league, took the L.A. Stars around to different cities, and introduced a team concept to the fight world. “People were really interested in this team concept, I knew I was really onto something there.” said Norris. However the world would have to wait, as the likes of “Lone Wolf McQuade” and “Walker Texas Ranger” took up all of Norris’s time. After the lights from Hollywood have dimmed, the fire still burned in one star to go back and finish what he had started, but this time there was a twist. “So when I was deciding what kind of league I wanted to form I decided to make it a six person team with five guys and one girl” Norris said. “When we took applications for fighters we were getting 50 emails a day, and the girls said if you are starting a fight league, then we want to fight.” As if watching two girls fight in the combat zone isn’t enough, Norris wanted to give the fans more bang for their buck. “In order to make this really exciting, we condensed 10 rounds into 3 minutes of fighting. If a fighter is fighting and he tries to slow the pace of the fight down by grabbing or holding, then they will be penalized” The end result is exactly what Chuck Norris wanted it to be. Really is anyone surprised by that? “The League had a 35% knockout rate last season, and that’s a lot of knockouts, but that’s what people love.” said the founder of the WCL. “In other leagues I feel like the fighters have gotten so proficient on the ground, that it makes the fights boring. I wanted to start a league in which the fighters have a strictly a stand up style of fighting where you can take down your opponent by kicks, punches and knees.” Chuck is putting his money where his mouth is rewarding bonuses to fighters for a

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knockout. “You get more money for a kick knockout than you do a punch, so it’s been real exciting seeing the feet flying around the combat zone” Norris stated. Knockouts may put people in the seats, but it will be the loyalty to a team that will keep them coming back. “It’s been real exciting to see the fans cheering for their team,” said Norris “Watching the points go back and forth, and hearing the audience screaming for their team to take the lead, it’s been great.” The founder of the league isn’t the only one who gets pumped up by the crowd, and the team concept. “It’s amazing to watch these fighters get knocked almost out, and literally pull themselves up off the mat in order not to give up the 15 points because every point is important.”

The future of Combat Martial Arts is bright with the eight teams in the World Combat League, but that could be just the start. “We hope to eventually have 36 teams in the United States, 24 teams in Europe, 24 teams in Asia, and 24 teams in the Middle East” said Norris. Being different isn’t enough these days. In order to make it to the top you have to have more than just talent. “I think seeing the fighters put their heart into the fight for their team is what makes this league different.” Leave it to Chuck Norris to take the pride of a fighter, and put that individual fire into a team format. But again is anyone really surprised? Chad Range co-hosts Turf Wars, the WCL magazine show, which airs on the VERSUS network.


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Turf Wars - Official Magazine of the World Combat League - Issue 2  
Turf Wars - Official Magazine of the World Combat League - Issue 2