By Dave Madden @DMaddenMMA
Jordan Pankey (4-2), an imposing heavyweight who is also a haircut and short diet away from light heavyweight, is known to be mild-mannered, friendly, and idles happily while sharing his company. This all disappears when the bell rings. Recently, Pankey competed in the second showing of NorCal Fight Series (NCFS), an all amateur MMA promotion, and faced Shawn Lee, a walking slab of a graffitied wall, for the vacant cruiserweight (230 pounds) title. For one-minute twenty-eight seconds, the Pankey, best recognized by friends and family, outside of the cage transformed before everyone’s eyes.
Upon introductions from Jim Cooley, NCFS’s ring announcer, the demeanor of Pankey and Lee bore drastic distinctions. Lee, the visitor from Stockton in the blue corner, hopped around as a railroad’s freight car would on hydraulics; whereas, Pankey hollowed out his heart and mined the soul from this mountain of ink with the stare of a stone-cold killer. Soon, the cage was only populated with 460 pounds and a referee. Ding.
Pankey would admit: The striking from his previous performance at NCFS 1 wasn’t polished. He obviously invested time buffing out his fists of fury during training sessions between NCFS 1 and 2 because he waxed the floor with Lee.
Seconds into the fight, Pankey lined up his target and fired a straight right into Lee’s head, nothing loopy or miscalculated. Coordinating some fancy footwork with his handiwork upstairs, Pankey cut angles out of the pocket and dropped three more blows using the same technique.
To take the sting out of Pankey’s pop, Lee charged in to close the distance. Instinctively reverting to his days as a semi-professional football player for the Twin City Cougars of Yuba City, Pankey dipped into a three-point stance, blitzed Lee’s torso, and slammed him to the mat with enough force to test the Metro City Soccer Complex’s foundation.
As if molten lava seared Lee’s back, he began squirming like a worm on the sidewalk after the passing of a recent storm. Pankey ensured each strike toward the ground was pinpoint accurate for the perfect pound, but his premeditated musket shots didn’t align with the referee’s desire for a tommy gun effect.
Removing the two fighters from the apron allowed Pankey to reload his cannon. Lee recognized the trouble Pankey posed, so he carelessly fanned a haymaker that opened him up for a counter: an overhand right with bad intentions that, when it connected, sounded like a watermelon being smashed by a sledgehammer.
It turns out that the forest surrounding a falling tree makes much more noise than the singular tipping arbor; hysteric screams from the crowd may as well have been calling out: timber! Lee toppled, face first, into the fencing, and Pankey beat the referee to Lee’s withering carcass, which afforded an exclamation point while scavenging for any remaining consciousness. When MMAGOLD’s newest cruiserweight champ was yanked off of Lee, his roar synced with an arena bordering on insanity.
By the time the official decision was rendered, the savage beast had soothed, and, gift-wrapped in the belt, he was a shinier version of his original self.
The goal at NCFS 2 was to engineer a performance predicated on efficiency; landing nearly 100% of your attack and absorbing none leaves little for Pankey to scrutinize, at least for now. Representing MMAGOLD, even when glimmering as a champion, means you enter Urban Sprawl Fitness each day with the mindset to always creep forward and never roll back.
Follow Pankey as he continues to progress as an amateur and defends his belt (link here) and watch his fight against Lee at NCFS 2 for yourself: