Lightweight, light heavyweight title fights highlight Driller's return to Austin Print
Written by Ben Pherson   
Thursday, 14 December 2017 11:05

Driller Promotions is putting a pair of titles on the line during its return trip to Austin for A-Town Throwdown XII on Saturday night.

Driller returns to the Austin Holiday Inn for the 12th time, bringing with it a 19-fight pro and amateur card that features a pair of title fights. The card also features more local fighters than ever before.

Impact Martial Arts has three fighters on the card, and Seventh Street MMA also has three fighters on the card. A fourth Impact fighter, Cameron Brown, also was scheduled to compete, but his opponent, Dillon Balbach, backed out and the promotion was unable to secure a replacement.

The show is nearly sold out (at the time of this writing, only four cageside seats and handful of general admission tickets remained online at Very select tickets will be available at the door, though

the bulk of the VIP and table tickets sold out weeks ago. Participating fighters still have tickets, though, and tickets will remain on until they're gone. General admission (standing only) is $30. Fights start at 5:30 p.m. sharp, with doors opening at 5 p.m.


Two titles are up for grabs, and Austin fighters will compete for both belts.

Austin's Thomas Herrera will put his light heavyweight belt on the line against Alexander Brown, while champion Jay Paulson squares off against Austin's Dustin Klapperick for the 155-pound belt.

There also are two pro fights on the card.

The main event was scheduled to feature Minnesota standout Damion Hill against Wisconsin standout Nick Ammerman. But Hill was forced to pull out of the fight due to seizures early this week. Stepping up on short notice is Iowa veteran Ted Worthington.

Worthington is one of the sport's most veteran fighters. His record is officially listed at 35-53, though many of his fights do not appear on his official record.

Ammerman is 3-0 as a pro. He trains at Iron Works in La Crosse, Wis., and he returned to the sport this year after a five-year layoff. Ammerman has a well-rounded game.

"It was huge of Ted Worthington to step up in this spot on short notice," Driller's Jeremy Bjornberg said. "Ted is a true professional. He's always ready to step up in a spot like this, and he will bring it, no doubt. He's been in there with the best this sport has to offer, so nothing is going to surprise Ted in the cage. Ammerman will be a big challenge, though. He's definitely a dangerous fighter. This will be a good spot for him, though, too. Ted will push him and make him earn anything he gets. I don't care about the records, you go in there against a guy with 100 pro fights, and they know what they're doing. I'm excited for it."

The night's other pro fight features Spartan Martial Arts' Ruben Vargas taking on Roufusport product Josh Marsh.

Vargas is just 1-0 as a pro, but he's been around the sport for many years. He won his pro debut in 2016 with a first-round submission.

Marsh is 2-1 as a pro, and he's fighting for the second consecutive time in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Marsh knocked off Eli Finn in his last trip to Minnesota. Both of his pro wins have come by way of knockout.

"Josh Marsh trains with Duke, so I expect his striking to be good; he looked pretty sharp in that fight against Eli Finn, so I know he's skilled," Bjornberg said. "But Vargas is a gamer, too. He's coming from a great gym, and he's another solid pro. I've been hearing about him for a while, so it's good to finally have him fighting for Driller."

The top two fights on the amateur portion of the card are the titles fights.

Herrera is 11-4, and he's coming off an impressive win over Kaleb Dingman for the Driller light heavyweight crown. He's a multi-time Driller champion and a favorite of the hometown fans.

Brown certainly is a game opponent, though. He brings a 3-1 record into the fight, with his lone loss coming during a Legacy Fighting Alliance show against unbeaten David Gunn. Brown is a devastating striker, and he's another fighter who took significant time off before returning to the sport recently.

"When we kicked around the idea of this fight, we loved it right away," Bjornberg said. "Thomas has been a great champion for us. He represents the sport well and does all the things he's supposed to do. Thomas has great wrestling, he's strong and he's experienced. But Brown has been around the block, too. He has very heavy hands. I expect him to come right at Herrera. He's long, has good reach, and he's still improving even though he's 35. This should be an outstanding battle."

Paulson surprised some by winning the 155-pound title from Juan Hernandez earlier this year in Austin. Paulson is just 8-8 as an amateur, but he stepped up on short notice to challenge Hernandez for the strap. And he didn't waste any time, getting the first-round submission win and the belt.

Klapperick is a local Austin fighter, and he's 4-0. He won his first three fights by first-round TKOs, and he went to war with Robert Confer, who's also fighting Saturday, in his last bout, securing a decision win. That victory moved him into title contention. Klapperick is another well-rounded fighter.

"Klapperick just keeps winning; you watch him and he's not amazing at any one aspect, but he's well-rounded and he just has this will to win," Bjornberg said. "He does what it takes to get the job done. He doesn't have a strong wrestling background or elite striking or jiu-jitsu, but he's a fighter. You can tell he's a fighter. Jay Paulson is one of my favorite guys to watch every time he gets in the cage. He's a great striker, long, lanky, tough to deal with at 155. A lot of his losses were before he trained seriously, but since he got serious, he's really looked good. Fight of the night? Probably, I expect a war. Both guys are finishers, but I'm selfishly hoping we see them do battle for five rounds."

In another featured bout, Austin's own Robert Andrews (3-0) will put his unbeaten record on the line against veteran Sam Hernandez. The fight will take place at 145, though Andrews could be in line for a title shot at either 155 or 145 if he wins Saturday. Andrews has shown excellent striking in his first few fights, and he has nerves of steel. But winning Saturday won't be easy for Andrews. He's taking on Sam Hernandez, who's a powerful striker. Hernandez is coming off a long layoff, too, and he brings a 10-11 record into the bout.

"This one should really excite the fans, too; Sam Hernandez is another one of my favorite guys to watch," Bjornberg said. "He throws every punch to take your head off. Sam will need to be careful with Robert Andrews, though. That kid is as cool as a cucumber. He's a smooth athlete, never rattled in there. He's got some natural ability, and I know he's been working his butt off with Troy and the crew at Impact. I expect big things for that kid. But he has one heckuva a test in front of him Saturday. I know Sam isn't coming to Austin to be a gatekeeper, he's coming to take Robert's head off. Don't blink in this one, going to be fun."

In another featured amateur bout, Hernandez's teammate, Robert Confer, will square off against Brad Pitan. Both fighters are experienced and exciting strikers. That fight will take place at 155. Both fighters are coming off of losses and looking to get back on track.

"Man, that's another candidate for fight of the night," Bjornberg said. "Robert Confer is in the fight of the night damn near every time he gets in there. He makes every fight a war. I expect this to be no different. Brad wants to go toe-to-toe with everyone, make it a slugfest, too. He's got a dance partner in this one, two great bangers going at it. Love this fight."

Andrews has two teammates on the card — Dustin Cummings and Jason Tiedmann — and both are making their MMA debuts.

Cummings is a tough local kid, and Tiedmann is a former standout wrestler from Iowa.

Cummings will take on another Austin fighter in Leon Delgado, who trains at Seventh Street. Delgado is 0-2, but he's faced two outstanding fighters, including Alex Brown, who's fighting Herrera for the title. Delgado was a high school football standout, and he has outstanding striking.

Tiedmann will take on a fellow standout wrestler in Noah Landrus, who's 1-0. Landrus trains at Revolution in northern Minnesota.

"Troy is grooming some good ones down there," Bjornberg said. "I'm really excited to see that Tiedmann-Landrus fight. Two outstanding wrestlers, usually the wrestling equals out and we see who can win the standup battle. Cummings I know has worked very hard for this debut, and Leon might be the best 0-2 fighter out there. He's much better than his record. That fight will have the local fans going for sure, two Austin guys going at it."

Another fan favorite, Joey Hart, returns to the Driller cage. Hart is 2-0, and he's set to take on newcomer Jonathan Schroeder, who trains with Hernandez and Confer at Fight Squad. Other Fight Squad teammates on the show include Mario Gomez, Alex Rodriguez and Ramiro Rivas.

Hart and Schroeder will meet at 170. "I've heard great things about Schroeder, and he stepped up immediately when offered a tough fight against a kid like Hart; I love that, love a kid who knows it's best to get some wars in while you're an amateur and still learning," Bjornberg said. "Joey Hart is a legitimate prospect, too. He's smooth and natural, and if he stays serious and really goes after it, he can go very far in MMA."

Returning after an injury is former Driller title contender Giovanni Alvarado. He's an elite wrestler, too, from St. James. Alvarado is set to take on Alec Atkins, who trains with Jake Klipp and the crew at Pura Vida in Wisconsin. Klipp is bringing four fighters to this show — Atkins, Josh Moody, Rodney Yapi and Javier Coronado. Moody is taking on Cody Colson of the Mario Roberto Jiu-Jitsu Academy, while Yapi is taking on Rivas and Coronado faces Rodriguez.

"Gio Alvarado is an exciting fighter; he goes about 1,000 mph in the cage," Bjornberg said. "It'll be interesting to see how he does coming off his injury. And that Jake Klipp crew, they always bring it. They're well-rounded and generally very good on the ground. Jake does a great job, always a professional crew, always put on a show. You know when his guys come over they're going to look like pros and be in there throwing down no matter who they're facing."

In addition to Colson, two other Mario Roberto Jiu-Jitsu Academy fighters are on the card — Michael Olson and Arkady Pichurin. Olson faces independent fighter Andrew Yatskis and Pichurin takes on Alfonso Bell of Iron Works.

"Alfonso is I think listed at like 1-6, but he's way better than his record; he's brought it every time he's stepped in there for us, so we love having him on our shows," Bjornberg said. "The Mario Roberto guys, I don't know much about them at all, other than Chad Curry brought them to us. Generally, if you're getting a Mario guy, you know he's going to be well-versed on the ground."

At 115, Daniel Soriano squares off against Randy Rivera and at a catch weight of 150, Tyler Sand meets Ricky Ortiz.

"Top to bottom, I can't wait for this one," Bjornberg said. "It's the most tickets we've ever sold in Austin, and man when that place is full, it's wild. It's going to be a stellar night for sure. Lots of fights, so we will rip through them quickly. It's always great to be back working with our fantastic partners at Torge's and the Holiday Inn."


Saturday, Austin Holiday Inn


165 -- Ted Worthington vs. Nick Ammerman

145 -- Josh Marsh vs. Ruben Vargas


195 -- Alexander Brown vs. Thomas Herrera * - title fight

155 -- Jay Paulson vs. Dustin Klapperick * - title fight

145 -- Robert Andrews vs. Sam Hernandez

205 -- Josh Moody vs. Cody Colson

155 -- Brad Pitan vs. Robert Confer

195 -- Dustin Cummings vs. Leon Delgado

170 -- Joey Hart vs. Jonathan Schroeder

170 -- Alec Atkins vs. Giovanni Alvarado

175 -- Jason Tiedmann vs. Noah Landrus

115 -- Joel Flores Jr. vs. Mario Gomez

170 -- Jonah Ruby vs. Ryan Williams

115 -- Daniel Soriano vs. Randy Rivera

170 -- Alfonso Bell vs. Arkady Pichurin

160 -- Rodney Yapi vs. Ramiro Rivas

150 -- Tyler Sand vs. Ricky Ortiz

160 -- Andrew Yatskis vs. Michael Olson

140 -- Javier Coronado vs. Alex Rodriguez