Brawl in the Burgh 11 freaking ruled.
From the night’s main event pitting UFC veteran and local legend Khama Worthy against Bellator vet Kaheem Murray all the way down to the night’s opening bout between amateur heavyweights Matt Vanderhoff and Dacoda Warnick, Brawl in the Burgh 11 flat out brought the heat.
We had knockouts. We had submissions. We had close, hard-fought decisions.
It was everything a fight fan craves.
<<< WATCH BITB11 FULL REPLAY HERE >>>
That said, if you came to the Monroeville Convention Center or if you watched the fight card on PPV, you missed some important details.
Every fight card features a little behind-the-scenes madness, and that’s what I’m here to talk about today.
If you clicked this article expecting a standard recap, you’re in the wrong place (but BitB11 results are right here if that is what you wanted).
If you came here wanting a peek behind the curtain and some knowledge you can’t get anywhere else…
Well, hello there. Let’s get to it.
Ethan Goss vs. Kevin Barberena Almost Didn’t Happen
Yes, you read that correctly.
Just hours before the opening bell Saturday, we got the news no promotion wants to hear: “The fight is in jeopardy.”
And by “the fight” the PA Athletic Commission meant the fight, our co-main-event pro title fight between Goss and Barberena.
<<< VIEW/DOWNLOAD GOSS-BARBERENA PHOTOS >>>
Both fighters made weight. Both fighters put in full camps. Both fighters filled out all the paperwork and tackled all the tedious steps to make it to fight night.
And now the fight was on the verge of being canceled.
So here’s what happened:
On the afternoon of fight day (3:30 PM Saturday) all fighters and coaches reported to the venue for COVID testing.
While slightly annoying, these tests are usually not a big deal, and we’ve never had any issues with them –– until Barberena tested positive on his first swab.
Usually, that first positive test is a wrap. The tests aren’t perfect, but according to the commission, false positives in this situation are extremely rare.
Basically, they told us to prepare to lose the fight.
Talk about a way to suck the energy out of the arena. We were absolutely buzzing as we inched closer to our opening fight and then… poof. Change of plans.
Thankfully, an Easter miracle saved the day.
Barberena’s second test came back negative, then they tested him a third time for good measure. Negative again. After a talk with the medical board and the commission, the fight was back on.
Yep. That happened.
A Meeting of Legends
“Hey, anybody know where I can find the commissioner?”
At first, I only heard a voice. Sitting backstage in a tucked-away office inside the Monroeville Convention Center, I click-clacked away with some last-minute pre-fight posts when a stranger interrupted.
I turned around…
And saw UFC lightweight Devonte Smith busting into the room.
I crossed paths with Devonte many times when I worked for FloCombat, and he’s always been one of my favorite interviews and personalities in the sport.
Now, however, he was in Monroeville to corner Eric Pozun, a pro lightweight who fought the Academy’s Jake Schilling at BitB11.
<< FULL PHOTO GALLERY FROM SCHILLING-POZUN >>>
It was amazing to catch up with Devonte, but the real magic happened when he bumped into Khama backstage.
Many of you will note that Devonte and Khama have history. They trained together right here in Pittsburgh before meeting in the cage –– yes, against each other –– at UFC 241. In that fight, Khama scored a huge upset knockout victory on short notice, stamping his name as a fighter to watch inside the Octagon.
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While you might assume that soured their relationship, their interactions backstage at BitB11 suggested anything but.
Khama and Devonte caught up like lifelong friends before the fights, with Khama decked out in full fight gear and sharing plenty of laughs and stories.
It was truly awesome to see them show some mutual respect and love like that, and it was a beautiful representation of the best parts of this sport. A bond forged inside the cage is like few others, and Khama and Devonte proved that Saturday night.
It Takes a Village
After the fight, I made this post thanking the dozens of people who made BitB11 possible. This operation is all-hands-on-deck, and I firmly believe we have the perfect team in place to take this thing to the next level.
However, in that post, I left out a few people who deserved a separate shoutout –– some of them fresh faces for longtime 247 FC supporters.
Our matchmaking team of Jim Mooney, Helen Locura, and Danny Palm gets all the praise for the fights you saw on Saturday. There were no wild blowouts or “squash matches.” Nobody got a layup win, and no fight made you cringe the way a local MMA show sometimes can.
Jim has guided the 247 FC matchmaking ship for quite a while now, and he just keeps getting more and more polished every time around. He matched the majority of this card and also handled the joys of paperwork to make sure everything cleared with the commission.
There were zero snags there, and that’s because of Jim’s attention to detail.
Helen and Danny, meanwhile, are newer additions –– but they each made their impact felt at BitB11.
Danny reached out to Kaheem Murray and set the gears in motion for our main event, while Helen worked some magic on short notice to assemble Willow Morton vs. Rachel Greenwood (photo gallery here).
Those were two HUGE additions to Brawl in the Burgh 11, and they don’t happen without Helen and Danny. We take pride in our fight cards, and we feel we have the best team we’ve ever had right now.
Oh, and did you notice that intro video?
That video played inside the arena before the show and online before the live stream, perfectly setting the mood for a hot-fire night of fights.
And it doesn’t exist without an ambitious intern stepping up to the plate.
Dylan Kohl, a Pitt student and massive MMA fan, recently reached out to us wanting to contribute to the 247 FC team.
Since then, he’s helped with some social posts and video editing, but he really outdid himself with that BitB11 opener.
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That video was awesome, and it showed some serious talent and initiative from the young Mr. Kohl.
You can expect more like that moving forward. He’s going to be a vital piece of the 247 FC machine as we continue to grow and expand.
Ready for the next show? We’re coming to Johnstown SATURDAY, MAY 14, for Flood City Fight Night 2. Get your tickets today.