Mixed Martial Arts fighter Charlie Brenneman is going backwards.
His fighting keeps improving, his record keeps improving, but each successive time the Hollidaysburg native steps in the cage in front of his hometown crowd, the nerves get to him a little more.
"It has kinda worked backwards," Brenneman said. "The more I fought in front of my home crowd, the more nervous I got and the more they expected of me. So it was more important that I performed. There was a lot of pressure on me to perform."
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Charlie Brenneman of Hollidaysburg celebrates his victory over Phillip Wyman in Sunday night’s main event.
Did he ever perform Sunday night at the Jaffa Shrine.
"The Spaniard" landed crushing elbows from the mount and defeated Phillip Wyman by technical knockout at 3:34 of the first round in the main event of the Valley Fight League's Broad Avenue Brawlers II.
And for kicks, the bout was for the VFL's 170-pound championship.
"It's awesome. I was warming up [Sunday], and I thought '[Shoot], tonight's a title fight,'" Brenneman said. "Every fight I go out, I want to win, I want to do my best. But in addition to that, to walk home with a belt, with some hardware, it's an awesome feeling. It's really cool."
Within the first few seconds of the fight, though, Brenneman was on the wrong end of a few punches. But Wyman left his leg open after attempting to land a kick.
"I knew he had good stand-up," Brenneman said of Wyman. "He's been doing traditional martial arts since he was a kid. He's had over 40 amateur fights, so I knew he'd know what he was doing.
"I wanted to stand with him, but those kicks - if someone is going to give me the leg, I've got to take it. I've got to take them down."
Wyman even admitted his mistake, which allowed Brenneman to take control of the fight.
"He did the right thing - pushed me up against the cage, forced me down," the Norfolk, Va. native said. "When he took the mount, I wasn't really concerned with him finishing me from the mount. Not even with the ground and pound. It's just he got a real good shot to my throat."
With that shot to his throat, Wyman temporarily had the wind sucked out of him.
"I don't know if it was an elbow or a punch, but it came down pretty hard," he said. "I don't think I've ever been hit in the throat like that before."
Seconds later, the referee jumped in and stopped the fight, improving Brenneman's pro record to 10-1.
"More than once I got him down, and I was able to capitalize," Brenneman said. "I pinned his arm behind his butt, left his face wide-open, and I just started working the elbows and really stung with a couple of those elbows."
Only one of the seven professional fights on the card went the distance - Donald Crawford Jr. won by unanimous decision over Blaine Balicki. Two bouts ended with injuries, two finished with submissions, and two - including Brenneman/Wyman - were called by referee stoppage.
Sam Moore, Steve Ritchey, Dylan Swires and Brett Shoenfeld each won their respective all-Altoona bouts in the amateur portion of the card.
Each of the local fighters had their own cheering sections around the arena, but the biggest roars of the night were for Brenneman.
And he made sure to thank each one personally as he sported his newly won belt on his waist and shoulder.
"It's unbelievable and I say it every time after every fight I have. To fight in my home town, in front of my friends, family, people who are becoming friends and fans - it's unbelievable. It couldn't be better."
BROAD AVENUE BRAWLERS II
Mike Kunowsky unanimous decision over Blair Leydig, 29-28, 29-28, 29-28.
Sam Moore unanimous decision over Joshua Hine, 29-28, 29-28, 29-28.
Steve Ritchey def. Matthew Smithbower by submission (triangle choke), 1:19 first round.
Dylan Swires unanimous decision over Matthew Caputo, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27.
Brett Shoenfeld def. Scott Wible by submission (rear naked choke), 1:55 third round.
Justin Head unanimous decision over Josh Haskins, 29-28, 29-28, 30-27.
Dave Yoder def. Jeff Pender by TKO (referee stoppage), 1:17 first round.
Brett Thomas def. Peter Cole by submission (arm bar), 4:24 third round.
Tenyeh Dixon def. Louis Armezzani by TKO (injury), 0:24 first round.
Donald Crawford Jr. unanimous decision over Blaine Balicki, 30-27, 30-27, 29-28.
Aaron Anspach def. Frank Armstrong by TKO (injury), 2:58 second round.
Robert Conner def. Elijah Garshnick by submission (rear naked choke), 1:38 first round.
Charlie Brenneman def. Phillip Wyman by TKO (referee stoppage), 3:34 first round.