The Harder They Fall: Sunset's July Boxing Journal
By Sunset Thomas, Doghouse Boxing (July 8, 2009)  
A couple of years ago I was the guest of Sexy Hot TV in Brasil. They flew me down to Sao Paulo during Carnival to host some big parties. Needless to say, I had a blast and that’s when my intoxication with Brasil and its people first started.

While I was there I was introduced to Oscar Maroni—a major player in multiple scenes in Sao Paulo. The reason people figured we needed to meet was two-fold. Oscar promoted fight events and it was no secret that I was a total boxing aficionado (of course Oscar’s SHOWFIGHT productions at Gimnasio Ibirebuera were of the mixed martial arts ilk—but nonetheless, I was told I simply had to meet him).

The other reason, I was soon to find out, was because Oscar loved beautiful women and I guess I qualified!
Anyways, I met Oscar at his club Bahamas, in Sao Paulo. The place was cavernous—restaurant, bar, strip club—enough room to put on fight events!

At the time, Oscar was building a hotel next door (that actually connected to the Bahamas through a series of tunnels as I recall). Anyways, there was talk of me coming down to host an event or two but before we could make it happen, the hotel opened and then there was a major scandal because of its size and position to Congonia Airport. And then there was an investigation and it turned out that the hotel was a feeder to the Bahamas and vice-versa, and that Bahamas was actually a brothel and well, Oscar went to the hoosegow…

Fast forward, June 2009; I’m working in conjunction with a production team (Evolution LA) on the creation of my own reality show, Sin City Mom (

One of the promotional ideas (again born of the fact that I love the fight game and write for the prestigious was that a fighter wear Sin City Mom on his trunks.

Anyways, someone knew someone who knew someone and the next thing you know Strike Force middleweight Jorge Gurgel is proudly promoting us on Showtime against Conor Heun—an epic battle that had the crowd on its feet and media hailing the event, “Fight of the Year” and “Fight for the ages!”

So what, you ask, does this have to do with Brasil? I’ll tell ya. See Jorge Gurgel is from Fortaleza, Brasil. And it was in Brasil that he learned his trade!

Of course, Frankie Gambino wasn’t impressed or even happy about the relationship prior to the bout. “What the hell do you want to get mixed up with that brawling brutality shit for?” he scoffed. “What, the Sweet Science ain’t good enough? You moving your act from a Penthouse to under a lamp on some street corner?”

Frankie can be harsh and his old school mentality can hold him back at times and he wasn’t budging, and then he watched the fight and he became an instant fan!

Fear not purists. Frankie hasn’t jumped ship from two-fisted to anything goes—but he has found a respect and this is why.

See in traditional boxing youth is more often than not a great advantage. A kid with speed, stamina and a chin can hold sway over an older fighter whose skills have diminished from wear and tear. That’s not to say that the cagey veteran can’t still beat the bully. Ali over Foreman will bookmark that reality forever. But more often than not the advantage in boxing goes to the younger, stronger fighter.

Not so in Mixed Martial Arts.

As Jorge explained to me, “In our sport you can’t be that good, that fast, that young! Sure you can mold a tough fighter in two-years—one that can punch and take down, but the little details—the nuances of Judo and wrestling—the ability to combine so many styles can only come with time and experience.”

Frankie liked that. Frankie likes to tell the story of the Papa Bull and the Baby Bull on the hill looking down at the grazing cows below. And the baby says, “Papa let’s run down there and have sex with one of those cows,” and Papa replies, “Son, let’s walk down there and have sex with them all!”

Plus Frankie couldn’t believe the chin on both fighters. They strike, they kick, they grapple, they literally beat the pee out of one another and in Frankie’s book, so long as a fight is fair it’s fine by him!

So getting back to Jorge. He’s a 155 pound panther of a man. He’s educated, articulate and he’s been at this since he was just a kid. “In Brasil,” Jorge explained, “Martial art clubs flourish. Kids flock to the gyms the way their peers in the United States join Little League Baseball or Pop Warner Football. It’s very accessible and very natural to find Brasilian youth learning martial arts.”

And of course with the legendary Gracie family (Rickson Gracie is Jorge’s idol—right next to his mom that is); having essentially launched mixed martial arts to worldwide status, there is a certain proprietary, partisanship among Brasilians when it comes to the sport.

Of course Frankie wanted to know how Jorge felt about boxing, since it is part of the arsenal in Mixed Martial Arts.
“To be honest, I never watched boxing so much,” Jorge confessed, “At least not at the beginning. But once I watched Arturo Gatti and Mickey Ward fight—I was hooked. I recognized the skill and guts and what a good, solid punch can provide and I’ve worked hard at adding it to my repertoire.”

Jorge is a prized pupil at the J.G. Mixed Martial Arts Academy in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he trains under some of the top masters—Dorian Price (kick boxing and muay thai), Tommy Hayden (wrestling), Dustin Hazzellet (jujitsu) and black belt John Stutzman.

Before his bouts, when he breaks camp in Cincy, Jorge ships off to Boston for his final prep with the famed Mark Dellagrotte.

Frankie is impressed. In boxing you have a trainer and anyone else is almost considered a nuisance. Too many cooks and such. Frankie’s appreciation for the sport grows even greater because of this tandem of teachers and the ability of the combatant to process so much information.

I love the work ethic. I’ve lamented in the past about the almost seasonal conditioning that boxers seems to practice. Not so Jorge or most of the other fighters in Mixed Martial Arts. “There is always something new to learn or improve on,” he tells me. “I would be happy to fight every three months. To do so, means constant training and conditioning.”
What does the future hold for the guy who proudly displays my reality show on his shorts?

“Josh Thompson and Gilbert Melindez are the champs at my weight. These are the guys I’m gunning for. Hopefully, I will be given competitive opponents, so that I can prove my value to Strike Force and get that eventual shot at the title.”
I hope so too, because I’ve never had a favorite fighter in Mixed Martial Arts and neither has Frankie—now we both have a reason to cheer!!!

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