How it all began

George, Steve Baxley, Coach Johnny Trawick, and Dray Burch
Photo by Susie Helms with Knockout Images

UFC ® Ultimate Fighter Championship is no stranger to the Dothan area. In 1997 Dothan hosted UFC® 12 which marked the first UFC appearance of Vitor Belfort “the Phenom”, who just won the title of Middleweight Champion in UFC® 103 beating Rich Franklin “Ace”, Sept.19, 2009 in Texas in a pay-per view match.

With the growing popularity of the UFC, many of the area fighters were fighting in “back alley” type venues without rules or safety guidelines. Many of these fighters were trained at the Wolfpack MMA(Mixed Martial Arts) school. Dothan local, Steve Baxley owns Steve Baxley’s Wolfpack MMA, where he has been teaching full time since 2004. Steve has over 27 years of MMA experience. He was aware of the fights but concerned about his students fighting without supervision or safety measures.

In May of 2009, the Wolfpack MMA dojo became the location for fights and the Southeastern Fight League was born. The fights drew a large crowd and soon he had to look for a bigger location to have the fights. Steve acquired a building on Brannon Stand Road and opened the Southeastern Fight Center. The Southeastern Fight League has hosted 10 fights this year.

Fighters from these fights are MMA athletes going on to careers within the sport. One of the fighters, Dray Burch, from the Southeastern Fight League, will have a professional debut on October 3, 2009 in Tallahassee, FL at The MOON. Burch has been training with the Wolfpack for the past three years. His amateur record is 10 wins and 2 losses. Burch’s future professional fights will be televised events.

Steve Baxley and his business partner Paul Grise, from Kentucky have plans on making the Southeastern Fight League a well know name within the UFC. Grise and his associates in Kentucky have been promoters for big MMA shows in Kentucky and Tennessee for several years now. The Wolfpack Pro Team has in the works for a MMA fight promoter (a former major boxing promoter) to have the Southeastern Fight League MMA fights televised. The Southeast Fight League is the premier fight league in Southern Alabama and the only one in this area connected to a legitimate pro promoter.

Baxley has a fantastic team; Mr. Grise, Coach Johnny Trawick (trainer of 3 World Champion Boxers and a Hall of Fame Boxing Coach) his staff of MMA trainers, fighters, and corner men. The Wolfpack Team has already started to get the attention of some well known celebrities. George Foreman, two time heavyweight boxing champion’s son, who is also a MMA fighter, has asked for one of the Wolfpack for a possible fight in the future.

MMA is growing so fast in this area that Baxley is moving his dojo, Wolfpack MMA to a new location in the Fountain Plaza on the Ross Clark Circle. It will be twice the size of the present location. If you are interested in the classes they offer, call (334) 677-2002 or visit the web site www.mmadothan.com.

The next fight night will be Saturday October 10th 8:00 PM at the Southeastern Fight Center, Brannon Stand Road, Dothan, Alabama. Open call for fighters. For fight information call (334) 794-1150 or visit the web site www.southeasternfightleague.com .


Fight Night 10

The rain came down, the  football game was on T.V. and there were live fights at the Southeastern Fight Center on Saturday night. The fight card had a line- up of only four fights. Four of the fighters were new to the octagon. I wasn’t sure how good the fights would be with these newbie’s, but everyone has got to start somewhere.

Fight ONE
Guzowski  Team Wolfpack 202 lbs.  vs. Miller 198 lbs.
Both of these fighters were 0-0. Guzowski dominated and Miller took a lot of hits to the head. Guzowski won by a TKO (Technical Knock out)

After Fight ONE the MC said that Kevin Tice “TLB” (Tough Little Bastard) was there and was looking for an opponent. Saturday night there were a lot of fighters in the fight center that were not on the fight card.

Fight TWO
Bonds (0-1) 152 lbs. vs Helms( 0-2) 156 lbs. Team Wolfpack
Bonds must have been training a little since his last fight, he started the first round by putting Helms in a guillotine. Bonds got a lot of hits on Helms his striking while standing was impressive. Bonds won the match by Side controlling Helms then he put him in a rear naked choke and Helms had no choice but to tap out at the exact same time the horn blew for the end of the 1st round. Bonds is now 1-1.

During the intermission the MC announced that “TLB” had an opponent and they would fight the last fight of the night. Steve Baxley also got into the octagon to announce Dray and George’s fight in Tallahassee, FL at The Moon next Saturday night Oct. 3, 2009. These guys are very excited to be fighting outside of the amateur ring.

Coleman (Wolfpack) 235 lbs vs. McKenzie (Bad Company) 230 lbs.
This pair was another first into the octagon. Both were 0-0 when they stepped into the ring. It is hard to judge a fighter by his corner guys or his physique. Coleman had a crowd in his corner, and McKenzie had a corner guy that looked like he never stepped into the ring. In the first round McKenzie took control and had Coleman in a top mount. When the horn blew and the fighters went to their corners both fighters looked tired. In the second round both got in a lot of hits while standing and when they made it to the ground they got in such a tangle the ref. had to separate them. The crowd was on it’s feet watching these two throw punches. In round three these two went the distance and the judges called McKenzie the winner.

Fight FOUR
Mitchell (1-0) 190 lbs. Wolfpack vs. Morgan (3-0) 190 lbs.
Mitchell is a really tough fighter. In his last fight he broke his opponent’s nose and knocked out some of his teeth. His fighting stance was solid. Morgan took some of those power strikes, but he gave Mitchell a show of his strength and at the end of round one, Mitchell couldn’t continue to round two. Morgan was announced the winner. Morgan (now 4-0) will be a fighter to watch in the future.

Tice “TLB” vs. Shawn C. Team Freestyle
This match got added to the fight card after the first fight. I had seen Shawn in the crowd as he watched the fights. It is hard to spot a fighter in plain clothes. Both of these fighters average around 150 lbs. I didn’t hear the exact weights. In round one Shawn went full force at Tice and was able to pick him up and slam him down to the mat on what looked like his head and left shoulder. The whole octagon rocked. Shawn took control and pounded a lot of strikes to Tice. Tice was in a total defense fight he did all he could to hold him back trying to get free of his reach. The ref. stopped the fight and Shawn was announced the winner.

Fight Night 10 did not disappoint even with only four fights on the fight card. These fights are thrilling because these amateurs can really surprise you. They each come into the octagon with fresh talent and if you come to the fights, you can expect that no matter who steps into the octagon, it will be a night to remember.

If you are a fan or just want to have a copy of the fights, each fight night is recorded and a copy is for sale. Contact the Southeastern Fight League.

The next fight night will be Saturday October 10th 8:00 PM at the Southeastern Fight Center, Brannon Stand Road, Dothan, Alabama. Open call for fighters. For fight information call (334) 794-1150 or visit the web site www.southeasternfightleague.com .

Don't forget - If you can make it to Tallahassee next weekend  October 3rd to support Dray and George, at Ubersmash 1 held at The MOON, 1105 E Laffayette Street, Tallahassee, FL  http://www.moonevents.com/  come show your support!


Dray Burch Wolfpack MMA

Dray Burch

Strength vs. Burch
Photos by Susie Helms

When Dray Burch showed up to fight August 8th the MC made the announcement that Dray was still looking for an opponent for the evening. No one answered the call. With his stats at 9-2 – he was intimidating to say the least. A few years ago when he started to train with Steve Baxley at his dojo, his physique was that of a body builder, he had a lot of bulk. He took the advice given to him to slim down and focus on being quick and work on his techniques instead of on being muscular.
He is a fighter to watch with a career in MMA.

Dray “Block Rocker” is from the wiregrass, right out of Rehobeth, AL. I interviewed him while he was getting his knuckles wrapped. He seemed relaxed before his fight.

Q: How long have you been fighting MMA?
Dray: About three years with the Wolfpack Dothan.

Q: What do you do during the day, do you have a day job?
Dray: No, I run. I’m training.

Q: What do you love about fighting?
Dray: The aggression

Q: What do you hate about fighting?
Dray: Losing

Q: Tonight will be my first time watching you fight. What is unique about your fighting style that I should watch and entice others to watch you fight?
Dray: My striking and Stand –up Fighting. I like fighting standing up.

Q: What is your advice to someone who wants to be a MMA fighter?
Dray: You have to love it. You have to have a heart for it.

Q: Have you ever been in a fight you wished you had not entered?
Dray: Yes, I was a corner guy for a fight and the opponent dropped out so at the last minute I jumped in and I had just taken two months off due to an injury and I wasn’t ready to fight, I lost that fight. I had to tap out.

Q: You have a certain passion for fighting where did that come from?
Dray: My Grandfather was a boxer in the Navy, and I grew up fighting.

Q: What is your hidden talent?
Dray: My charm. I’m charming.

Q: What was the last promise you made your mother?
Dray: That I’ll always love her.

I’m sure Dray’s hidden talent will shine as he continues winning and gains fans, including me.
Watch Dray fight this weekend, Saturday September 5, 2009 at the Southeastern Fight League, 8 PM.
* UPDATE Fights were cancelled for Sept. 5th.  Next fight night to be announced. 
Good fighters did not start out as good fighters. Every fighter will have a story of before they were a fighters I’ll share my interviews here. Check back from time to time and leave a comment if you like.
It takes a lot of training to make these MMA athletes. If you are interested in MMA contact the WOLFPACK or call  (334) 794-1150.


Andy Wade Wolfpack MMA

Photos by Susie Helms
As the saying goes, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover,” don’t judge a MMA fighter by a first impression. I met Andy Wade, “The Terror” while he was waiting to get his knuckles wrapped before his fight. Andy is a 19 yr. old who was polite, honest, and well mannered when he answered my questions.  So this well mannered nice guy is a MMA fighter?

First impression of him when he walked into Steve Baxley’s MMA dojo, he did not look like he does today, he had long hair and when he said he could fight, those who heard him wanted him to prove it. Prove it he did.

He cut his hair and now sports about a #1 razor trim all around. His haircut isn’t the only thing sharp about him, on his chest he has a tattoo of “X X X” the three x’s symbolize a straight edge lifestyle. A straight edge is someone who will abstain from drinking alcohol, smoking and illegal drugs, and no pre-marital sex. Don’t underestimate Andy Wade; he is a MMA Wolfpack fighter.

Q: How did you get the nick-name “The Terror?”
Andy: Paul Grise, my trainer, came around and we decided on it tonight.

Q: How long have you been fighting MMA?
Andy: Just a month. This is my second fight.

Q: What is your advice to somebody who wants to be like you and be a MMA fighter?
Andy: Don’t give up.

Q: Are you superstitious? Or do you have a good luck charm?
Andy: I have a lucky bracelet I never take off.

Q: What is your hidden talent?
Andy: I can solve a Rubik’s cube in 1 min. 18 seconds.

Q: How are you feeling about tonight’s fight?
Andy: Nervous

Q: What is one thing that you used to dislike but that you like now?
Andy: Mustard

Q: What did you do today to prepare for tonight’s fight?
Andy: Today, I just showed up and I’m going to try to win.

Q: What is the last promise you made your mother?
Andy: Not to get hurt, I don’t have health insurance.

Q: What is your fighting record? 1-0
Andy Wade “The terror” terrorized his opponent and won his match, 2-0. Andy Wade impressed a lot of people with his performance, and I saw him after the fight, he kept his promise to his mother.   
Watch Andy Wade in upcoming Fight Cards at the Southeastern Fight League. The Southeastern Fight League host two fight events per month. The Weigh Ins are usually held two Fridays a month at Hooters of Dothan, AL. The fights are on the next day after the Weigh In, two Saturdays Nights a month. Open call for fighters.
For further information: www.southeasternfightleague.com or call Steve Baxley (334) 794-1150.