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Middletown’s Kayla Harrison on winning MMA debut: ‘What a rush!’

Published: Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 1:33 PM

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28: Olympic gold medal Judoka Kayla Harrison is introduced before throwing out a ceremonial first pitch before a game between the Boston Red Sox and the Kansas City Royals on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28: Olympic gold medal Judoka Kayla Harrison is introduced before throwing out a ceremonial first pitch before a game between the Boston Red Sox and the Kansas City Royals on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Middletown native Kayla Harrison was understandably exhuberant after winning her professional mixed-martial arts debut Thursday night.

“Yeah, man what a rush, huh? Crazy,” she said in a post-fight press conference.

Harrison, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in judo, submitted Brittney Elkin in a Professional Fighters League 155-pound lightweight bout in Chicago.

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She got Elkin on the ground early and dominated the fight, finishing it off with an armbar 3 minutes, 18 seconds into round one.

>>MORE: Kayla Harrison shares inspiring message with Middletown crowd | Middletown cheers Harrison to another Olympic gold

“Have you ever stepped in the cage and let them lock the door behind you?” she asked a reporter, who replied he has not.

“I highly suggest it,” she said with a huge smile and a laugh.

Although she made fairly quick work of the more experienced Elkin (3-5), Harrison said she was far from being in a comfort zone in her first competition since she won her second Olympic gold medal almost two years ago.

“Obviously my judo and my instincts from years of doing the same thing over and over again took over, but I don’t want to just be a judo player who gets in the cage,” she said. “I want to be the best MMA fighter in the world. I have a lot to work on. I already told my boxing coach, ‘We’re working every day. That’s it.’ I don’t care if he’s got plans. Forget about ‘em!

“It was a lot of fun. I”m just grateful to my team and everyone who has supported me along the way.”

She was also happy to have supporters in the Windy City from Middletown.

“I grew up in Ohio, so there were a lot of people here from my hometown,” Harrison said. “They like rented a bus or something from Middletown and drove over so this is awesome to fight here.”

Kayla Harrison’s father, Kenny Harrison, said he debated whether to even watch his daughter’s first MMA match.

“Nobody wants to watch their daughter get her arm broken or her face punched,” Harrison said.

But he watched the fight Thursday night in his Middletown home. He said the fight didn’t last long enough for his daughter to get hurt.

“Not a scratch on her,” he said.

He wasn’t surprised by Kayla’s dominating, first-round victory.

“She’s an amazing girl,” he said. “When she puts her mind to it, she can do anything she wants.”

About 40 people attended a Watch Party Thursday night at Canal Pub at the Landing in downtown Middletown. The party was organized by Jay and Linda Moorman, owners of BeauVerre Riordan Stained Glass Studio, in the same building as the bar/restaurant.

Jay Moorman said he wanted to watch the fight live in Chicago, but he was too busy at work. He has met Harrison a few times and calls himself “a big fan.”

Before the fight, someone wanted to place a bet, but nobody wanted to bet against Harrison, Moorman said.

Moorman said he has followed boxing most of his life. He was worried that Harrison, a two-time Olympic champion in judo, wouldn’t have the boxing skills.

But once Harrison got her opponent on the mat, Moorman said the fight “was over.”

Linda Moorman called Harrison “a good, positive thing” for Middletown.

As for when she might fight again, she replied, “The sooner the better.”

The Professional Fighters League is a new MMA promotion that held its first event earlier this month.

While a full season of competition is scheduled for men in the PFL, the promotion is still accumulating female fighters and Harrison is their marquee name.

“I think it’s in my contract to fight every four months so maybe October?” she said. “I’m ready. I don’t have time to mess around. I think the more I fight, the more experience I get the more comfortable I’m going to get inside that cage.”

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Pirates complete sweep of Reds with another rout

Published: Sunday, July 22, 2018 @ 3:58 PM

The Pirates' Gregory Polanco hits a two-run home run against the Reds on Sunday, July 22, 2018, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
David Jablonski - Staff Writer
The Pirates' Gregory Polanco hits a two-run home run against the Reds on Sunday, July 22, 2018, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.(David Jablonski - Staff Writer)

Trucks from WWE Smackdown lined the streets outside Great American Ball Park on Sunday. The wrestlers will put on a show Monday night at U.S. Bank Arena.

» RELATED: Harvey delivers worst performance as a Red

A smackdown of a different sort took place all weekend on the diamond. A Cincinnati Reds team with hopes of escaping last place and overtaking the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League Central Division were instead dominated in every phase of the game, losing the first three games after the all-star break by a combined score of 27-5.

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The Pirates, who have won nine games in a row, capped a three-game sweep with a 9-2 victory Sunday. The Reds (43-56) were swept since the first time since early May. They were swept five times in the first 10 series and had not been swept in the last 21 series.

» PITCHING UPDATE: Reds will use six-man rotation

Reds starter Matt Harvey allowed eight earned runs in 3 2/3 innings. Jackson Stephens followed with 3 1/3 innings of relief. He allowed one run on seven hits.

The Reds trailed 9-0 until Phillip Ervin drove in Jesse Winker and Adam Duvall with a single in the seventh.

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Riggleman confirms Reds will use six-man starting rotation

Published: Sunday, July 22, 2018 @ 12:04 PM

The scene at Great American Ball Park before the Reds play the Pirates on Sunday, July 22, 2018, in Cincinnati.
David Jablonski - Staff Writer
The scene at Great American Ball Park before the Reds play the Pirates on Sunday, July 22, 2018, in Cincinnati.(David Jablonski - Staff Writer)

The Cincinnati Reds will use a six-man starting pitching rotation at least until the trade deadline July 31, though interim manager Jim Riggleman hopes the Reds hang onto Matt Harvey, the player most likely to be dealt.

“I’ve got no indication that he’s going to be traded,” Riggleman said Sunday.

» HAL McCOY: Reds honor 2018 Hall of Fame class

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Harvey (5-5, 4.63 ERA) makes his 13th start with the Reds on Sunday, facing the Pittsburgh Pirates in the finale of a three-game series at Great American Ball Park. He would make one more start with the Reds if he stays with the team until the trade deadline.

Entering Sunday, the only question with the rotation was who would start Wednesday against the St. Louis Cardinals after Homer Bailey (1-7, 6.68) returns to the rotation Tuesday. Riggleman confirmed that starter will be Sal Romano (5-8, 5.19).

“If we absolutely need (Romano) today in the bullpen,” Riggleman said, “he would pitch today, but we would really try to limit that and see if he would then be able to pitch Wednesday as a starter.”

» RELATED: Votto gets extra day off; Gennett reflects on All-Star experience

The six-man rotation could test the bullpen if the Reds stick with it for long because it means the Reds will have one fewer reliever than normal.

“We would not say with six for a long period of time,” Riggleman said. “I guess we could if we run into a period of very few off days and those guys are giving us six innings because if they’re not then we’re really putting a strain on the bullpen.”

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Harvey delivers worst performance since joining Reds rotation

Published: Sunday, July 22, 2018 @ 2:57 PM

Reds starter Matt Harvey reacts after giving up a home run against the Pirates on Sunday, July 22, 2018, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff
David Jablonski - Staff Writer
Reds starter Matt Harvey reacts after giving up a home run against the Pirates on Sunday, July 22, 2018, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff(David Jablonski - Staff Writer)

In his second-to-last start before the trade deadline, Matt Harvey delivered his worst performance since joining the Cincinnati Reds.

Harvey allowed eight earned runs in 3 2/3 innings Sunday against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ball Park as the Reds tried to avoid a three-game sweep. He left the game after facing three batters in the fourth.

Six runs scored against Harvey on four home runs, the most Harvey has allowed in a game in his career. The Reds trailed 8-0 after the fourth.

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» PITCHING UPDATE: Reds will use six-man rotation

The trade deadline is July 31, and Harvey is expected to be a popular name in trade talks.

Despite this start, Harvey has pitched well for the Reds. In his last four starts, he was 4-0 with a 1.86 ERA. In his last five starts, he had allowed a total of six earned runs and no home runs. He had not allowed a home run since giving up three against the Cardinals on June 6.

Before the game, interim manager Jim Riggleman said Harvey was enjoying pitching in Cincinnati and not allowing trade talks to bother him.

“I think he likes it here,” Riggleman said. “His performance indicates he’s getting better and better. We hope he stays here. We’re fortunate to have him. It was a great acquisition for our front office to get him.”

» HAL McCOY: Reds honor 2018 Hall of Fame class

Riggleman hopes the Reds don’t trade Harvey and said he hasn’t seen any indication they will.

“As good as we’ve seen Matt, I think he’s just getting healthier and healthier,” Riggleman said. “You may even see a healthier guy next year.”

Harvey gave up a two-run home run to Gregory Polanco in the first, back-to-back home runs to Corey Dickerson and Starling Marte in the second and a solo home run to Sean Rodriguez in the fourth inning.

Harvey’s ERA jumped from 4.63 to 5.21. This was the first time he failed to last four innings in 13 starts with the Reds.

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UD provides inside look at arena renovation

Published: Sunday, July 22, 2018 @ 12:54 PM

The $72 million renovation of UD Arena is in phase 2 with two shifts of construction workers tackling the big project

The University of Dayton shared a video updating the progress of phase two of the three-year, $72 million UD Arena renovation on Friday.

The video shows the seats in the 300 and 400 levels have been removed. They will be replaced by padded seats with cupholders.

» EARLIER COVERAGE: Phase two of renovation may be busiest

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UD Arena Director Scott DeBolt walked fans through the changes going on inside and outside the arena. 

“The main concentration of phase two is expanding the north side and east side of the building,” DeBolt said.

» RELATED: One of Dayton’s biggest events staying at arena

DeBolt mentioned the expanded concourse area, improved restrooms and an elevator that will provide access to a new landing at the top of the east side 400 level. That area will contain restrooms, expanded handicap seating and concession options.

“The area will provide guests with a dynamic view of the playing floor and the river,” DeBolt said, “all while maintaining the intimacy of the arena.”

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