Corporate Fight Night, founded by Women’s Boxing HOFer Terri “The Boss” Moss, hosts high-end white collar charity boxing shows in the Atlanta area. Founded in 2010, CFN prides itself on creating “black-tie black-eye affairs”, matching white-collar corporate folks (with fight aspirations) together inside the ring; usually for a good charity. The organization looks for individuals that aspire to rise up through the corporate ladder while at the same time raising their fists inside the square circle.
On October 21st, at the Georgia Aquarium, CFN hosts its twelfth show, the first of which that will have mixed martial arts included. The charity chosen for CFN 12 will be Charity: Water, an organization that provides water and water systems for those individuals and communities in need.
So, why should YOU go to CFN 12? Here are five reasons.
1) Whole Lotta Fights – If you want to see an event that will be NON-STOP fights. Look no further. CFN 12 has a fight card that includes nineteen total fights. 12 boxing, 5 MMA (including the main event), 1 kickboxing, and 1 muay thai. This card is a fight fan’s dream! Doors open at 5pm (first bell at 6pm). Get there early if you want to see most of the MMA action. Full fight card is here.
2) MMA Graces The Ring – For the first time ever at a Corporate Fight Night event, mixed martial arts will be included. Even better, the main event will be MMA scrap, between Vee “OG” Johnson and Rakim Thorpe.
3) All Walks Of Life – Executive Chefs, Music Industry Execs, Teachers, Skydivers, IT Professionals, and Engineers are just some of the careers of the fighters on Friday’s CFN 12 card. And many of these wanna-be pugilists are making their amateur debuts! It will be interesting to see what these white-collar professionals are made of and which particular career-types have the most success inside the ring. Who’s your pick?
4) Hooters Ring Card Girls – Do I really need to say anything else here?
5) Captain Jack Sparrow? – From CorporateFightNight.com’s website. “ACFN12 fans will be entertained with a swashbuckling appearance by the most famous pirate of them all, Captain Jack Sparrow! Pose with Captain Jack for cool photo op, hear about his wild and daring adventures at sea or share a rum toast to support your favorite competitor! Sparrow appears in the form of of Atlanta based actor Jason Walker, who is the spitting image of actor Johnny Depp, and Atlanta’s best and most sought after Depp impersonator.”
Get your tickets ASAP here. If you don’t get them online today, you’ll have to get them at the door (and the price will go up)!
AtlantaFights.com will be covering the weigh-ins (taking place at the Hard Rock Downtown (Velvet Underground) on Thursday and the actual fight on Friday evening (providing live updates throughout).
Successful music industry executive, Vonce (Vee) “OG” Johnson will be headlining the Corporate Fight Night 12 card, that takes place on October 21st at the Georgia Aquarium. “OG” will be taking on up-and-comer Rakim Thorpe in an MMA fight that serves as the night’s main event.
When talking to AtlantaFights.com about his noteworthy career, Johnson explains “I’m a music publisher. I own a company with my wife. We do royalties. Our company’s called Royalty Firm, and I have some royalties from different artists, predominantly from the rap industry. I was an executive over at Arista at one point, and at Def Jam at another point with my friend and business partner Shakir Stewart. He passed, but I kind of left that part alone and pushed my company Platinum House into an entertainment consultant firm. The company has been mostly music, but there’s another part that is entertainment. I have a pro skateboarder, Stevie Williams. I have athletes that come back and forth with me like Baron Davis (NBA Player), those kind of guys, but that’s what we do. We’re mainly entertainment-based.”
Although Johnson is a successful businessman in the music industry,
“OG” Vee Johnson is a hard-nosed, street-smart brown-belt Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu technician. Despite the 48-year-old’s interest in MMA, it took a good cause for “OG” to make the leap into the cage. “These are the last hurrah days, man,” Johnson explains. “But, I still got it in me. I feel good enough to get into the cage and I met Terri [Moss], and we talked. It’s a way to get some of this [energy] out of me. I still do Jiu Jitsu. I’ll probably do Jiu-Jitsu till I can’t do Jiu-Jitsu anymore in my life. So, the [MMA] fighting aspect was just the final piece to my life. The cause that [Terri Moss] came with up, Charity : Water, just sealed the deal. It’s like, “Okay, now I’ve got a reason to fight.” Win, lose, or draw, it’s just a good cause. If we can generate some money through the entertainment industry because I’m fighting somebody, man, so be it. Man, I’ll sacrifice myself every time for people that have some necessities in life that we take for granted.”
Is anybody in Johnson’s immediate world (friends, family, industry peers) surprised by his upcoming MMA fight? Definitely not. It’s quite the opposite. For Johnson, strapping on a pair of MMA gloves, is just the “next step” for a person that has had a pretty chaotic life,
especially when you consider his early gang-affiliated days. “[My family] has been thinking I’m crazy [chuckles] for the last ten years, so it don’t even matter,” Johnson says when talking about what his family thinks about his upcoming bout. “I wasn’t a super good kid, so me doing this as an adult people say was the natural progression or transition for me in my life. I am a Los Angeles native. I was an early gang banger and that just kind threw my life in a whirlwind. But this fight piece of Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, and wrestling kind of helped me prolong this life I have.”
So for being so passionate about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, you would expect the music industry exec to claim that he’s a jiu jitsu guy, through and through. Instead, he considers his “fighting style” merely a collection of his life experiences. “I would say I’m a fine-tuned street fighter [chuckles],” when Johnson talks about his fighting style. “I got a little Jits in me. I got a little Muay Thai in me. I got some things that I learned just from being outside as a youth and I wrestled. I was a high school wrestler and got myself into some schooling about wrestling.”
Of the fighters on CFN 12’s fight card, it appears that “OG” has the most experience in a wide-variety of combat sports. Whether it’s through street combat, NAGA tournaments, karate tournaments, or collegeiate level wrestling, Johnson has covered all bases. It will be interesting to see what sort of strategy his opponent, Rakim Thorpe, implements, against a guy with so many angles to his game. “Well, I’ve always done karate tournaments when I was young,” Johnson states. “I’ve wrestled in high school and at collegiate levels. I’ve always done the Jiu-Jitsu tournaments and those kind of things. I’ve won a few NAGA tournaments and some other various tournaments over my period of time in this sport.”
So how does a 48-year-old amateur MMA fighter train for a fight against an opponent that is twenty-four years younger? Well, he drowns himself in all disciplines of mixed martial arts training at one of the best MMA gyms in the Atlanta-area, which is headed up by a current UFC Fighter. “Well you know it’s rigorous,” Johnson states when describing fighting and training in his forties. “At this age, I train with a lot of younger guys and it’s hard, but I push myself to the limits that I can push myself. I’ve got great guys like [Devorius] Tubbs, who’s fighting at NFC 87, my Muay Thai coach. Jake [Jo] and Sergio, two incredible grappler and jiu-jitsu people, not to mention my professor, Roan “Jacao” [Carneiro], the number one Jiu-Jitsu guy in his class in the world.”
It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that Johnson finally got his opponent
squared away at CFN 12, but what does “OG” think about his rival and being the FIRST mixed martial arts fight to headline a Corporate Fight Night event? “I don’t know anything about the young brother other than he’s 25 or 26 and his name is Rakim, and other than that I don’t know anything about him,” Johnson confesses. “I hope him and I have a nice bout and people get a chance to see MMA at this capacity at Corporate Fight Night, which they haven’t been able to see yet. So I’m just honored that [Corporate Fight Night] is letting myself and this gentleman be the first to do this, and hopefully we can spawn more people to [fight] on this level. And I think it’s a good way for so many younger guys to get some of those amateur fights under their belt which they have to do before they become pro.”
Despite having a wealth of combat sports experience, don’t look for any flashy finishes from Johnson. “Well, expect me to grind it out,” Johnson says when discussing what CFN fans will see performance-wise. “I’m a grinder and I’m probably not the fastest starter, but I think it’s going to be really exciting and interesting because I don’t think these fans per se – for corporate fight night – have seen much MMA. So some of the fight may be a little boring to them if it’s on the ground and they don’t understand what’s going on in that capacity but we’ll get some stand up too. Hopefully I’ll just pull out the victory in the end and finish my night off like that. No bad wishes on my opponent, but I’m just saying this is something that I need to get done, so be prepared!”
Rakim Thorpe is a 24-year-old retail manager who comes to Atlanta
from Freehold, New Jersey. Thorpe is currently 2-0 in his amateur MMA career with previous wins coming out of National Fighting Championship (NFC), an Atlanta-area MMA promotion.
Thorpe, an up-and-coming MMA fighter in the Atlanta area, shares the main-event slot at Corporate Fight Night 12 with his 48-year-old opponent, Vee Johnson. Check back later this week for more on Johnson.
CFN 12 takes place on October 21st at the Georgia Aquarium.
AtlantaFights.com had the honor of asking Thorpe a few questions before his headline bout later this week.
AtlantaFights.com: What do you do for a living?
Thorpe: I’m currently a Manager in the retail industry, but I have a degree in Sports/Entertainment/Event Management. I hope to someday get the opportunity to utilize my skills in the Sports Industry.
AtlantaFights.com: Why did you decide to jump into the ring?
Thorpe: After school it was hard for me to find work so to stay busy I worked part time, and decided to try my luck at MMA at a local gym in Gwinnett. I was hesitant to go back after the first class because I was so out of shape, but I kept going. And here I am right now. Headlining as the Main Event for Atlanta Corporate Fight Night 12.
AtlantaFights.com: What sort of experience in the ring do you have? Have you had other fights?
Thorpe: I’ve only been in this sport for about a year and a half now, but I have two fights under my belt. I’m currently 2-0 in the NFC (National Fighting Championship).
AtlantaFights.com: What do your fellow co-workers think of what you’re doing?
Thorpe: They love it, and they are very supportive. Whenever it’s time for me cut out bad eating habits, my employees are always bringing me healthy snacks. And trust me, cutting weight on the job is not easy as one can get irritable when your on a extremely strict diet.
AtlantaFights.com: What does your family think about you jumping into the ring?
Thorpe: My mother loves it. My grandmother despises it. [chuckles] She thinks that it’s too dangerous, and she doesn’t want me to get hurt. Everyone else in my family is pretty stoked about it too. They are proud of me, and it feels good.
AtlantaFights.com: What do you consider your fighting style?
Thorpe: Everyone I’ve come in contact with in the sport has labeled me a wrestler, but my boxing and Muay Thai is coming a long very nicely. Like I said, I’ve only been training for a year and a half. I’m neither a counter puncher nor the aggressor, I feel that I just have “the eye.” There is a time and a place for everything in this sport, and it only takes a split second for a fighter to slip up and lose a fight. I trust my instincts and training to get me through my bouts.
AtlantaFights.com: Do you have multiple trainers or do you have just one person that’s helping you out?
Thorpe: I train with X3 Sports in Atlanta, we have multiple trainers at each of the locations. Our team training sessions are held by Tony Tucci & Gabriel Kitober.
AtlantaFights.com: What do you make of your Vee Johnson?
Thorpe: I know he’s a brown belt in Jiu Jitsu, but I’m not worried because I’m confident in my wrestling as well as my take down defense. My stand up is just another element that he will have to deal with. Much respect to him, but this is a fight at the end of the day. I am here to take it to him.
AtlantaFights.com: Are you going to have a strategy for Johnson?
Thorpe: Of course I do, but strategies change. The great ones have to be able to adjust on the fly. I don’t want to give anything away but I will have to execute come fight night if I want to move to 3-0.
AtlantaFights.com: What should fans expect out of you on October 21st?
Thorpe: Well, I go into every fight expecting a war so fans should too. I’ll be in attendance in warrior spirit, I’ll see you at the fights!
American Top Team (ATT) is one of the premier MMA training centers in the United States. Based out of Coconut Creek, Florida, the gym has produced numerous champions in a variety of promotions. Amanda Nunes (UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion) and Tyron Woodley (UFC Welterweight Champion) are two current champs based out of the storied gym. It’s a staple training center in the MMA game, and the list of prominent mixed martial artists associated with the gym is endless.
But did you know that Atlanta has its very own ATT? American Top Team – Atlanta is located at 2110 Faulkner Rd NE, Atlanta.
Just like ATT in Florida, Atlanta’s center produces its own group of talented fighters for the southwest of the United States and beyond. For example, Devorious Tubbs, a top-five fighter in Georgia, who fights in the main event at NFC 87 in a couple weeks, is the Muay Thai instructor for ATT Atlanta.
In addition to producing upper echelon talent in the area, ATT Atlanta is the home gym for, Roan “Jucao” Carneiro. “Jucao” is a current UFC fighter and owner of the Atlanta-based ATT franchise. Originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Carneiro is a 3rd degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He started his MMA career back in 2000.
Carneiro is currently in his second stint in the UFC and has had 7 fights inside the Octagon with a 3-4 record. His biggest win is arguably a submission victory against Mark Munoz. The 38 year BJJ specialist, will be taking on Kenny Robertson in a welterweight fight on the main card of UFC Fight Night 94 in Hidalgo, Texas this weekend. Robertson is coming off of a loss as well, so fans should expect a hard fought bout between both opponents. The Brazilian fighter most recently lost to Derek Brunson in February, so Saturday night will be a critical fight in his UFC career.
UFC Fight Night 94 will take place on September 17th, and will broadcast on Fox Sports 1. Fight Pass starts at 7 pm, prelims start at 8pm and the main card goes live at 10 pm.
Although Carneiro is in South Texas preparing for his fight, I had a chance to visit ATT Atlanta this week while interviewing Vee Johnson (Corporate Fight Night 12 headliner). Look for that interview in the next couple weeks. I had a great experience meeting the team and was extremely impressed with the gym and the team that they have put together. I had the good fortune to meet a couple of their coaches including Devorious Tubbs (Muay Thai Coach) and Jake Jo (BJJ Coach). Overall, I think Carneiro and team have created a great environment for beginners and wanna-be pros to find success.
I’m more than certain that ATT – ATL will be watching UFC Fight Night 94 very closely this Saturday to root for their head coach and mentor.