By Sean Eamon
One of Butte’s favorite fighting sons is back.
Former army ranger and professional mixed-martial artist Sam Rauch will be a co-headliner at Butte Brawl 18, Saturday night at 7 p.m. at the Butte Civic Center.
The road has been a long one for Rauch. He went from fighting in the first Butte Brawls to Colorado to work with some of the best fighters in the country, then back again with his Butte wife and two children with aspirations to add to his hometown’s growing MMA scene.
“I moved down there to train,” Rauch said. “We had a couple kids and decided to move back to raise them. I’m enjoying life and getting accustomed to being back in Butte.”
Rauch is in the process of opening up his own gym, Grit Martial Arts, which will focus on disciplines of jui jitsu, kickboxing and muay thai.
While he was in Colorado, Rauch worked with renown kickboxer Duane Ludwig, familiar to UFC fans for scoring the quickest knockout in UFC history with a six-second bout against Jonathan Goulet at welterweight. Ludwig landed a perfect counter-punch right hand to a Goulet jab attempt to end that match in record time.
Rauch spent years working with Ludwig, who also coaches Team Alpha Male and was named Coach of the Year at the World MMA Awards the last two years.
Looking at this weekend’s fight, Rauch says he is ready. He even went back to Colorado for a week to train. While he lived in Colorado, he fought in front of even bigger crowds than the Butte Brawl usually draws.
His Kalispell opponent, Andrew “Machine Gun” Howk, is no piece of cake. Howk fought on a Mayweather Promotions boxing card in 2013. He’s 6-foot-3 and the two are meeting at 170 pounds, so he’s lanky with reach and has a strength in stand-up battling.
“I heard he’s tough,” Rauch said. “He did Club Boxing and he’s tall. He likes to blitz and comes out fast.”
It’s been awhile since Rauch has seen the octagon in his hometown.
“I actually haven’t fought in Butte since 2009,” he said.
Rauch’s last fight in Butte was a submission win by guillotine against Mike Crisman at Butte Brawl 7. He earned the win in one-minute, 36 seconds.
Some of Rauch’s trophy efforts in Fightforce MMA include a win against Jeff Gregory in the first Butte Brawl, a tilt against Rod Dombrowski in Butte Brawl 2, a submission win versus Brad Imes in Butte Brawl 3, and another submission win with Ryan Stromberg in Butte Brawl 4.
The early years of MMA events in Butte were good for Rauch and he was an undeniable talent fighting for Streets of Butte. Sam “The Man” will take a 3-2 professional record, according to Sherdog, into the octagon against Howk.
The matchup promises to be a great conclusion full of action to end Saturday night’s event.
Butte Brawl’s other co-headline fight will feature Deer Lodge native and Butte transplant Ariel Beck against Colorado bruiser D.J. Morrison.
Beck is Butte’s most popular female fighter by far. She made ears ring as an amateur boxer, fighting her way to awards at national boxing tournaments.
She started out training with Pink Gloves of Butte and Anaconda Golden Gloves Boxing, then went on to work with one of Montana’s finest pugilists, Duran Caferro Jr., at H-Town Boxing Club of Helena.
Along the way she scored knockout after knockout with her lightning fast combinations of punches and savvy instincts from corner to corner. She eventually turned professional.
Beck also turned her attention towards mixed martial arts with Streets of Butte, where she found herself more than welcome. After some successful amateur bouts she turned professional there as well.
Morrison and Beck have met before for two professional boxing matches in Helena in 2012. Ariel was victorious both times with unanimous decisions. Saturday’s contest will be an MMA bout.
Beck is off to a great start to 2015 with a technical knockout win against Jessica Diaz at Dakota FC 20 in January. She won that fight in 40 seconds.
According to Sherdog, Beck will take a 2-1 professional record into the cage against Morrison. The Colorado fighter is coming off of a decision loss against Hannah Kampf in November. The two will fight at flyweight, 125 pounds.
Beck defeated Angela Hayes by decision at last December’s Butte Brawl.
Another one of the most anticipated bouts in Saturday’s Brawl will pit Butte Lion Pit fighter Anthony Curtiss with Zack Marckwick of Bozeman’s Montana MMA. The fight will be for the amateur 140-pound title belt.
Curtiss is a recently reformed man after having been jailed for assault charges multiple times.
He started training for mixed martial arts and befriended Butte pastor and fighter Zach Anderson, who is also on Saturday’s card.
The Butte bantamweight turned his life around and found an appropriate way to express himself. He’s known for being one of the most exciting up-and-comers in the Montana mixed martial arts scene.
Last December, Curtiss scored a first-round TKO against Anthony Shurts at Butte Brawl 17. He also had a “Fight of the Night” with a decision win against Andrew Castro in Butte Brawl 16.
Another fight of major interest to Butte fans will be former Streets of Butte brawler Joey Murray against Belgrade’s Brandon Little Coyote in a professional matchup.
Murray moved to Bozeman and started training with Montana MMA, but his career started in the Mining City, where fans remember him well for his trademark mohawk. He’s also revered by fans for being one of the finest fight announcers in the state, as well as an occasional harmonica player around town when he lived in Butte.
Murray defeated Little Coyote at Bozeman Impact 10 in September with a first-round decision, so he’s giving the Belgrade man another go at it. Little Coyote is a fine boxer, so look for him to try to use that to his advantage.
One of the next fights that leaps off the page is Butte Lion Pit’s Zach Anderson versus Grand Forks fight D.J. Mace at 170 pounds.
When he’s successful, Anderson is one of the most exciting finishers around. He’s ended fights at previous Butte Brawls in the opening minutes with a front-kick knockout and an anaconda choke submission.
Sherdog lists Anderson with a 3-3 professional record. He is well-rounded in jui jitsu and kickboxing, so look for him to use those skills when the bell rings.
Butte freestyle fighter Gary Brackett will face off against Spokane’s Justin Rodriguez at 195 pounds. Brackett has one of the heaviest sets of hands on the card, so expect him to come out with fists flying Saturday night.
Anaconda fighter Jered Lunceford will go against Sidney’s Cody Williams at 185 pounds in a rematch of a fight that Williams won at the Smelter City Smackdown a couple years ago. Lunceford has been training hard and is in fine shape. He’s won a series of boxing matches recently at heavyweight so he knows how to use his skills and fitness to win. The Anaconda fighter is 8-0 in boxing matches and 2-1 in kickboxing, so he’s strong on his feet. He’s also been spending a lot of time wrestling and grappling at the Goosetown Training Center.
Butte Lion Pit fighter Monty Klistoff will see action against Great Falls’ Brad Spencer. Klistoff is a boxer-wrestler that trains in Butte and Anaconda. He’s got a strong build and will be formidable when the opening bell sounds.
Alex Sexton of Lion Pit and Andrew Huckeby will face off at 155 pounds. The two Butte boys are looking for wins to jump start their young careers. Both are well-rounded fighters
Tapology lists Sexton with a 2-1 record in amateur bouts. Huckeby’s been fighting since 2013 and has battled into the third round before.
Anaconda heavyweight Chris LaTray will see action against Zach Cross of Bozeman. LaTray is a former heavyweight finalist in the Montana prep state wrestling tournament. The security officer fighting out of Goosetown is known for his dedication to his sport and will be eager to notch a victory.
Former Anaconda state wrestling champion Marcus Lussy is scheduled to fight Jack Woods of Spokane. Lussy is a wrestler-boxer that’s won some amateur boxing matches and should bring a strong following to his fight.
Butte Lion Pit will have another fighter on the card in Jake Fournier. He’s slated to take on Robert Weeks of Nampa, Idaho at 130 pounds. Fournier is a wrestler that is short, compact and strong. He’s been working on striking and will be looking to put on a good show.
Brady Hunzeker will represent Butte, fighting out of the Lion Pit, against Talon Herbert of Bozeman’s Montana MMA. Hunzeker is a fairly new fighter, but he has been successful with a recent win by submission in Helena.
Fights are slated to start around 7 p.m. General tickets cost $25.
Butte Brawl 18 Fight Card
170 – Talon Herbert, Bozeman (Montana MMA), vs. Brady Hunzeker, Butte (Lion Pit).
130 – Robert Weeks, Nampa, Idaho (UMAS), vs. Jake Fournier, Butte (Lion Pit).
170 – Jack Woods, Spokane, Wash. (Warrior Camp), vs. Marcus Lussy, Anaconda (Goosetown).
HVY – Zach Cross, Bozeman (MT MMA), vs. Chris LaTray, Anaconda (Goosetown).
155 – Alex Sexton, Butte (Lion Pit), vs. Andrew Huckeby, Butte (SOB).
185 – Brad Spencer, Great Falls (Wolfpack), vs. Monty Klistoff, Butte (Lion Pit).
185 – Cody Williams, Sidney (SCC), vs. Jered Lunceford, Anaconda (Goosetown).
195 – Justin Rodriguez, Spokane (Freestyle), vs. Gary Brackett, Butte (Freestyle).
170 – D.J. Mace, Grand Forks (Team Mace), vs. Zach Anderson, Butte (Lion Pit).
140 – Zack Markwick, Bozeman (MT MMA), vs. Anthony Curtiss, Butte (Lion Pit).
155 – Brandon Little Coyote, Belgrade (Freestyle), vs. Joey Murray, Bozeman (MT MMA).
125 – D.J. Morrison, Colorado (SOB), vs. Ariel Beck, Butte (SOB).
170 – Andrew Howk, Kalispell (Freestyle), vs. Sam Rauch, Butte (SOB). 1 comment