By Dave Madden @DMaddenMMA
From walkout to wrap-up, “The” Blake Benson (4-0), a self-proclaimed nerd, stuffed all his heart, toughness, and unique charisma into a pocket protector and carried it into the cage when he faced Jordan Mapa (1-1) at West Coast Fighting Championship (WFC) 17: Jones vs. Montgomery. After surviving the first round by the skin of his teeth, Benson, under the tutelage of his corner, returned in the second round to pull off the most spectacular comeback of the evening. Pairing Benson’s play-by-play with a guest appearance on the podcast: Funky Monkey MMA (link here), the storyline of an amateur, with the mindset to pave a successful path in the sport, flows together like Dungeons and Dragons.
Well before the cage door locks, the entertainment began with Benson’s call to the stage. Although the initial notes cracking the airwaves feature a guitar working at full tilt, the tune subconsciously travels listeners to Saturday mornings with childhood superheroes. When the chorus hits: “Go, go Power Rangers,” Benson wants Mapa to be aware: His opponent and his powers are no match for him.
Freshly into his second decade of life, the gentle, baritone voice of MMAGOLD’s budding featherweight prospect was featured on Funky Monkey MMA and revealed an internal kid that will never be erased,
“I walk out to Power Rangers. I watched Power Rangers all through my childhood, and I even watched it past my childhood. It’s still something I’ll watch if I want to.” If the walkout music wasn’t enough to flash back to the good ol’ days, he also explained some attire he wears represents one of his favorite anime characters, “When I walked out, I had an Arto headband on, aside from my mask.” All this fun doesn’t distract Benson from the grown-up task at hand, “I’m serious when I’m walking out, but I want my walkout to just be fun. I just want people to remember it and have a fun time whenever I fight.”
If Benson sought to deliver fun, mission accomplished when the bell rang. Ding.
Benson and Mapa, being amateurs under the C.A.M.O (California Mixed Martial Arts Organization) guidelines, crammed five-minutes worth of action into a two-minute drill.
Briefly into the bout, Benson reeled off a combination: beginning with a head kick and concluding with some peppering punches; Mapa armed himself and didn’t absorb tremendous damage, but the aggression inflated Benson’s offensive mindedness. Since Benson doesn’t understand a ninety-nine percent effort, he pushed forward, yet Mapa, the heavy boulder Benson tried rolling uphill, pushed back.
Possessing a proficient boxing pedigree, Mapa threw a wrench into Benson’s blueprint by checking him with a left hook. Stinging Benson like a wasp, Mapa floated around on clouds with his light footwork. Creatively switching his stance to southpaw, Mapa heaved the lead brick attached to the end of his arm down the middle, swaying the tide in his favor.
Pumping the brakes never computed and Benson relentlessly stalked straight ahead, but Mapa hopped on his bike and stayed just outside of Benson’s range. Feinting with another hook, Mapa opted to send a right hand between Benson’s defense, dropping him where he stood.
Pouncing onto Benson as if he were a wounded Gazelle, Mapa jackhammered at Benson’s off-switch. Instinctively, Benson sought a limb as a WFC 17 keepsake, though Mapa slithered out of Benson’s fingertips, spinning to his feet. Meanwhile, Benson brushed away the cobwebs and followed in hot pursuit.
Upright, Mapa continued to treat the cage as a laboratory, conjuring up a potion of rips to the body and head with the ‘sweet science.’ Benson’s warrior spirit was painted on his face as he bit down on his mouthpiece and swung recklessly in search of the clinch, but Mapa turned him into a bobble-head. Closing out the round, the inside of the arena rattled like pennies in a can, and Benson, somehow, escaped with his consciousness.
During Benson’s interview, he invited listeners to sit on the shoulder of his coaches as he recuperated on the stool. According to Benson, his coaches advised,
“Jim [MMAGOLD’s head coach] sat down next to me and said, ‘You have got to take this fight to the ground. You can’t let this continue.’ My other trainer, MF [MMAGOLD’s kickboxing and muay thai coach], said he didn’t have an answer to my kicks.” Benson adhered to the instruction and replaced their words with action, “That’s why I came out in the beginning [of round 2] and just blasted him with a kick.”
Round 2 was on the other end of the color wheel from round 1.
Benson never balked at the script scribbled out by his cornermen, unloading a head kick and diving into Mapa’s legs. Unfortunately, Mapa’s sprawl disrupted Benson’s balance and toppled him. Mapa saw a sitting duck and took aim. Overcommitting to the punch left him susceptible to Benson’s impression of a boa constrictor. Securing the rear naked choke, the arms and legs of Benson laced around Mapa’s neck and body like a vice grip. Nineteen seconds later, the referee ordered Benson to release his clasp.
There were ample opportunities for Benson to locate the exit in this contest, but his resolve refused. The love Benson has for MMA, as highlighted with his own words, will certainly carry with him throughout the remainder of his days as an ammy until he finally decides to go pro,
“We go in there, especially the amateurs, and train for six hours a day, six days a week, and then we go in there and fight for free. You have to have passion for it. None of us would be here if we didn’t love the sport. We don’t do it for the money. We want to make money doing it, but we don’t make money doing it.”
Tune into Benson’s thrilling performance (below) and link to his social media (link here) to follow his sprouting career as a mixed martial artist.