Archive for Dave Cryer

Crilly returns, Lopez retains title as KOTC sails into Lake Elsinore

Posted in King of the Cage, Live Event Reports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2009 by jaytan716

Redemption was the theme for the three headlining matches at King of the Cage’s debut show, “Storm,” which took place on Saturday the 16th at The Diamond, home to minor league baseball team the Lake Elsinore Storm.

“After the first fight, I didn’t like how he ended off with the tapping of his face, showboating, basically.  I think it was real disrespectful, so I wanted this fight, and more just to earn his respect.  And I think I did that in this fight. I earned a lot of people’s respect,” explained Gonzalez in a post-match interview.

Lopez acknowledged the threat that Gonzalez posed in this rematch, noting “it was pretty close. . . [Gonzalez} was landing some heavy hits at the beginning of the fight. Towards the end, I had to finish.  I couldn’t let it go to decision, because it could have gone either way.”

Fan favorites Rick Legere and Joe Crilly returned to their winning ways with decisive finishes that both needed to turn their career momentum around.  Legere, having lost his past two matches, the only losses of his pro MMA career, emerged victorious after a second round knockout.  His excitement level was so high that, immediately following the referee’s stoppage, Legere leaped over the cage fence and ran into the crowd to his girlfriend.  Legere quickly returned to the cage for the victory announcement, and then made his girlfriend his fiancée, proposing to her in his post-fight interview.

“She’s got my little girl, so I was hoping she would say yes,” Legere joked, referring to their newborn daughter.

Not one to be outdone, hometown hero Joe Crilly had the shortest, but perhaps the most electrifying, match on the card, scoring a KO over Ruben Tagle in 11 seconds of the first round.  Crilly, who had the most fan support of any fighter that night, has been hampered with injuries and personal complications since his last fight, in 2004.  For Crilly, this match represented not just a highlight reel victory in front of friends and family, but also a long-overdue rebirth into the fight game.

“Five years in the waiting. . . I’m 27 and it feels like tonight was the first time I’ve ever fought.  Those other fights feel like they never happened.  Tonight was my first fight, and I’m gonna build off that,” he declared at the afterparty.

The card, originally slated for 11 matches, lost two bouts the previous day at weigh-ins.  Bantamweight Chad Walters was forced to withdraw from his match against Reuben Duran due to injury, while weight complications sabotaged a lightweight fight between George Sanchez and David Gomez.  According to matchmaker Shingo Kashiwagi, after Gomez weighed in almost three pounds over the 156-pound limit (155 pounds with one pound leeway), it was proposed that Gomez weigh-in at noon the next day at 163 pounds, Sanchez’ typical walkaround weight.  Sanchez would accept a second weigh-in, but Gomez, wanting to rehydrate and replenish, declined it, at which point negotiations fell apart and the match was scrapped.

Other KOTC action that night included:

Lightweight (155 lbs.) – Bryan “The Badger” Colebrook (Griffin MMA / Real Deal Boxing with Ed Mendiville) vs. Victor “El Valiente” Rodarte (The Jungle)

Judges award Victor Rodarte the match by unanimous decision.

Welterweight (170 lbs.) – Nikko Medina (San Jacinto Grappling) vs. Marcos “The Reaper” Gonzalez (The Shark Tank)

Both men started out slow and very cautious to strike.  Medina, who somewhat resembles WWE’s Batista, looks explosive.  Medina attacked, but got caught in a front headlock, taking it to the ground briefly.  Gonzalez kept his sprawl until being forced against the cage, at which point referee Herb Dean broke them apart.  Gonzalez connected with a nice combination, but Medina also rocked himwith an overhand right.  Medina had Gonzalez up against the cage as the round ended.  In round two, Gonzalez charged on Medina with combos, getting another front headlock.  Medina tried to take Gonzalez down, but was blocked for his efforts.  Gonzalez later scored another takedown, trapping Medina’s hand in half-guard.  After some ground-and-pound, Gonzalez dropped back for an ankle lock.  Medina briefly claimed a front headlock, but Gonzalez eventually regained side mount and top position, dropping bombs from half mount.  The third round opened up with very cautious footwork, which then exploded into a heavy trade of leather.  Gonzalez once again took Medina down, transitioning positions and dropping big bombs on him.  The two hugged and spoke at length at the end of the match.

Judges awarded the match to Marcos Gonzalez via unanimous decision.

Bantamweight (135 lbs.) – “Smooth” Greg Guzman (San Jacinto Grappling) vs. Kiko Lopez (Team Quest / Bob Chaney Muay Thai)

Guzman and Lopez wasted no time, trading fast shots.  Guzman quickly claimed a takedown, eventually getting Lopez’ back, where he would stay for most of the rest of the match.  Lopez got to his feet, but couldn’t shake Guzman, who kept his hooks in and fired shots from behind for the next several minutes.  To his credit, Lopez fired back.  He finally fell to all fours by the end of the round, but staved off the choke in an ongoing theme for the match.  Lopez shot for a takedown early in round two, but Guzman used his high guard to sweep and take the back, locking in a body triangle.  Lopez continued to roll over to lose Guzman, but to no avail.  Lopez opened the third round by charging and clinching Guzman against the cage, but Guzman took Lopez’ leg and scored a takedown.  After standing, both men traded kicks for combos, with Lopez landing a left hook.  Lopez also landed a solid Muay Thai knee, allowing him to get a front headlock, but Guzman picked Lopez up and slammed him to break the hold.  Lopez kept Guzman in high guard, but Guzman was able to stand up.  Lopez scored a takedown in the waning seconds of the match.

Judges award the match to Greg Guzman by unanimous decision.

“I knew for sure that I was going to go in there and have a war, because he was 4-0.  I’d done all my research on him, and he was dropping everybody in the first minute and thirty seconds.  Three of his fights were unanimous decision. . . I knew that I had to not let him capitalize on any little mistakes and to stay on him,” Guzman reflected.

Flyweight (125 lbs.) – Thomas “El Chihuahua” Casarez (Riverside Submission / Joe Camacho MMA) vs. Javi Alanis (Quence Jiu-Jitsu)

Alanis set things off with a running flying kick, failing to nail it on the button.  Casarez jumped on the opening and slapped on a guillotine choke, but Alanis calmly carried him back to Alanis’ corner and slammed him hard.  Casarez kept the choke, and then transitioned to an armbar, getting the submission at 0:51 of the first round.  Casarez was elated, doing a cartwheel and throwing his T-shirt into the crowd.  Judge Cecil People’s noted Casarez won his previous match, just two weeks prior, in the same fashion.

Featherweight (145 lbs.) – Junior Kling (San Jacinto Grappling) vs. Aaron “The Blood Spiller” Miller (Blood Bank MMA / Sparta MMA / OC Boxing)

Miller and Kling were both chomping at the bit to attack, and the action didn’t belie their demeanors at all.  In the first round, Miller and Kling imposed their will on each other against the cage with knees and combos before Miller slipped in a trip takedown.  Miller threw body shots from the mount until Kling swept him, at which point Miller tried to set up a triangle from bottom.  Back to standing, Kling almost got an armbar off Miller’s clinch, but they went to the ground and traded top position once more before the end of the round.  In the second stanza, Kling slipped on a high kick, but was able to recover and work for an ankle lock.  Miller eventually twisted out of it and the two exchanged sweeps on the ground, scrambling like pit bulls for the upper hand.  At one point, Miller had a body clinch from behind on Kling, who used his momentum and position to slip in a kimura, driving Miller to the ground.  They scrapped more against the cage, tradition positions before the end of the round.  Kling’s face between the second and third round was a crimson mask, reinforcing Miller’s claim as “the Blood Spiller.”  Going into the final round, the two trade kicks for combos.  Kling escaped a first takedown, but Miller forced another, and then dropped elbows from side control.  Miller jumped on Kling standing and slapped on a rear naked choke, but Kling escaped out the back door and tried to work a kimura from side mount.  Standing, Miller landed a high knee to Kling’s face against the cage.  Kling fired a head kick.  Miller invited more, to which Kling responded with several more kicks and a combination as the match ended.

Judges award the match to Aaron Miller by unanimous decision.

Miller was another victorious fighter who echoed the redemption theme, commenting “my last King of the Cage showing was pretty poor and I just had a really bad attitude since then.  I wanted to change up my habits and be more in attack-mode and keep going.  I train with some of the best guys around and I just said “I’m not gonna stop until this fight’s over.  One of us is going to be knocked out, bloody, tap out.  It doesn’t matter how it’s gonna end. It’s just gonna end with my hand raised.”

But Miller’s road to redemption is not quite over, as he looked to the past for a fight in the future: “I want Casey Olsen back.  That’s Chuck Liddell’s guy.  We fought in Fresno.  Bring him down to King of the Cage. . . because I have some built-up frustration from that fight.  I’d love to see him again.”

Light Heavyweight (205 lbs.) – “Tall” Paul Karski (American Jiu-Jitsu) vs. Dave Cryer (Millennia MMA)

Karski weighed-in heavy the day before, and was unable to make weight after a second attempt.  As such, the match was allowed to occur, and Karski had to forfeit 10% of his purse to Cryer.

Most of the match was fought in the clinch against the cage, as both men used knees, including to the face, to gain control.  Cryer pushed Karski to the ground off a knee, proceeding with side mount and an assault off lefts and rights as Karski held on.  Karski trapped Cryer’s left leg, but it was Cryer who continued with rights to Karski’s head and body.  After Cryer steps back, referee Herzog forced Karski to stand up.  Both men fired shots, with Cryer’s left hook dropping Karski.  Cryer pounced and fired off ground-and-pound until referee Herzog called for an end to the match.  Cryer takes the KO victory at 4:17 of the first round.

190 lb. catch weight – Rubin Tagle vs. Joe Crilly (Lake Elsinore Fight Crew / United Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu)

Both men typically fight at 185 lbs., but with Crilly coming off a five-year hiatus, both sides agreed to fight at 190 lbs.  Crilly was the clear cut big draw, as the crowd erupted for his walk-out.  Tagle was cornered by KOTC Superheavyweight champion Neil Cooke of Pinnacle Jiu-Jitsu.  Crilly wasted no time in overpowering Tagle with a barrage of lefts and rights.  After several combinations against the cage, Tagle went down.  Crilly fired off several more rights on a prone Tagle before referee Herb Dean could pull him off.  Crilly was awarded the KO at 0:11 of the first round.  The crowd was going nuts for several minutes after the fight.

Looking forward, Crilly said he was hungry for more competition: ““What I want next is to stay in shape.  It’s been five years out of shape. . . I want a fight lined up in the next month, two months.  And then I want another one after that, and then I want a title.”

Welterweight (170 lbs.) – Eric “E-Train” Meaders (Ring of Fire Monrovia) vs. Rick “I.E. Bad Boy” Legere (Team Wildman)

Legere might have been a fan of Bret Hart as a kid, as he sports the Hitman’s trademark pink-and-black colors as his own.  Legere kept the center of the cage and held Meaders at bay with low kicks as Meaders circled around the outside, changing levels sporadically.  Meaders got Legere to the ground with a textbook double-leg takedown, but Legere transitioned to an uma plata.  Meaders escaped to his back as Legere stood up, but Legere eventually passed guard, took the back, and tenderized Meaders with left hooks.  Meaders actually stood up and carried Legere piggyback, using hand control to ward off the rear naked choke, to the end of the round.  Meaders put together more combos in round two, but Legere dropped him with a low kick.  Meaders tried to transition for a takedown, but Legere took side mount, trapping Meaders’ arm.  Meaders freed his arm and worked for a kimura as Legere stood up.  Legere connected with three hard rights, causing Meaders to turn his back.  Legere pounced on Meaders and threw rights until referee Jason Herzog stopped the action at 2:20 of the second round.

When asked about what made the difference tonight from his previous two matches, Legere explained “I learned a lot.  Definitely want to keep your hands up all the time, because it only takes one punch.  And don’t go out there rushing things. Relax, stay calm.  You’ve got three five-minute rounds. . . If you need to use your 15 minutes, use your 15 minutes.”

KOTC Light Heavyweight Championship (205 lbs.) “The Menifee Maniac” Fernando Gonzales (Team Quest) / Bob Chaney’s Muay Thai) vs. Tony “Kryptonite” Lopez (Team Oyama)

While being a former Gladiator Challenge Light Heavyweight champion, Gonzales has more recently fought at middleweight (185 lbs.).  He was also a last-minute replacement for Tony Valarde, who had to bow out due to injury.

Gonzales initiated the offense in the first round, charging Lopez into the cage with a clinch.  From southpaw stance, he dropped Lopez with an overhand left, but wasn’t able to capitalize before the champ recovered.  This seemed to give Gonzales confidence for the rest of the match, because he continued to land the punch throughout.  Lopez mixed up some combos with his trademark head kicks and a back kicks, including firing three head kicks in a row (which Gonzales took with seemingly little effect).  Gonzales forced a takedown and shot lefts to the head as the bell rang.

In round two, Gonzales continued with his stick-and-move circling around the cage, which clearly frustrated the champ.  Lopez continued to switch stances throughout, but Gonzales was able to catch some kicks and land strikes over the top, including a hard left body kick that was audible in the bleachers.  Round three saw Gonzales catch a left low kick and force a trip takedown, pushing Lopez into the cage.  Gonzales had Lopez’ left arm trapped behind his own back, working a kimura, while keeping the clinch from the side.  Lopez climbed to his feet and escaped.  By this point, the crowd was at a fever pitch.  Lopez continued to chase Gonzales around the cage, firing kicks at will.

In the “Holy Shit!” moment of the match, Gonzales had Lopez in a body lock clinch on the cage, and as Lopez tried to break the hold to set up for an armbar, Gonzales actually German-suplexed him over his head, following up by passing guard and throwing a knee to the back (which got a warning from referee Herb Dean).  Lopez was able to escape out the back door to standing position, but Gonzales, perhaps smelling blood, charged with lefts and rights.  Lopez landed a high knee and sunk in a rear naked choke that almost ended the match, but Gonzales managed to survive.  Lopez was in full mount and fired rights on Gonzales’ face as the round ended.  Going into the fourth round, Gonzales was clearly hurt, but he had a big smile on his face.  The two traded kicks and left fists as loud “Fernando” chants emanated from the crowd.  Gonzales continued to charge in with overhand lefts and combinations to Lopez’ body.  Lopez worked to clinch Gonzales up against the cage, and perhaps smelling blood, chased after him with a series of low kicks, but Gonzales fired back with another left body kick.  Both men were visibly spent by this point.  Lopez dropped Gonzales with a harsh right knee and fired shots as the bell ended round four.

By the last round, the crowd was bonkers for these two combatants.  Between rounds, Gonzales had a look on his face that suggested he wasn’t going to come out, but he did, and after the bell rang, his face changed to say “this one’s for all the marbles and I know it.”  He charged with an overhand left and shot in for a single-leg.  Lopez was able to turn it around and mount Gonzales on the ground, setting up a rear naked choke once Gonzales went to all fours.  As Lopez stood up and kneed the ribs, Gonzales actually grabbed Lopez leg and dragged him to the ground again.  But Lopez had the composure to wrap his arms around for the rear naked choke and roll back, until referee Dean finally stopped the fight at 1:48 of the fifth and final round.

Although Lopez retained his Light Heavyweight title, Gonzales spoke positively about his performance, saying “I’m not down on myself at all.  I gave everything I could in that fight.  I just wasn’t ready for a five-round fight yet. . . I got heart, and I just tried to push as much as I could.  I almost didn’t come out that fifth round, I was so done. . . .My stand-up coach told me ‘look, you don’t come out, you’re never gonna let yourself live this down.’  And he’s right.  I would have been down on myself a lot worse if I didn’t come out.  I’m happy that I did.”

As for future prospects, Gonzales announced “I’m going back down to 185.  Trying to work my way down to 170 if I can. . . Everybody knows I should be fighting at a lower weight class.  [But] I wanted this rematch. . . so I stuck around the weight.  I got what I wanted. . . but now it’s time for me to move down and start working at those lower weight classes.”

After the match, Lopez admitted to underestimating his opponent: “Last time that I fought him, I was sick.  And I came out with the win early in the fight.  So this time I came in like ‘okay, you know what?  I’m just gonna have my way with him and stuff and that’s it.’  Well, he didn’t think the same thing. . . I gotta go back to my old way of thinking: that everybody’s a pro, and I can’t take no fight lightly.  That’s where I’m at right now,” said Lopez.

Also worthy of note was the announced return of former KOTC lightweight champion Chris “The Westside Strangler” Brennan, an MMA pioneer who returns to action on June 11th at the San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino in Highland, CA.  Brennan’s fight career dates back to 1996, and had already consisted of a 6-3-1 record before the very first KOTC event in 1999.  During the in-ring interview with ring announcer Big Poppa Schnake, Brennan discussed his plans to move up to welterweight and win the KOTC title from reigning champion Mike “Joker” Guymon.   Ironically enough, Guymon is a former student of Brennan’s.

King of the Cage’s next event in the Southern California area will be June 6th, at the Quechan Casino & Resort in Winterhaven, CA, as well as June 11th in Highland.  No official announcement has been made for King of the Cage’s return to Lake Elsinore, but updates and news on events, matches, and fighters can be found at www.KingoftheCage.com.

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Lopez, Boxer Defend Titles, “Chaos” Reigns Supreme At KOTC: Immortal

Posted in King of the Cage with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2009 by jaytan716

The gods shined brightly on Neil “Chaos” Cooke, as he claimed the King of the Cage Super Heavyweight title amid one of three championship matches at KOTC: Immortal, which took place on February 26, 2009 at the San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino in Highland, CA.

Defending their championship gold was then-reigning champion Chance Williams at super heavyweight (265+ lbs.), Tony Lopez at light heavyweight (205 lbs.), and Victor “Joe Boxer” Valenzuela at junior welterweight (160 lbs.).

In fact, a unification bout at bantamweight (145 lbs.) between reigning champion Lazar Stojadinovic and interim champion Angelo Sanchez was also scheduled, but had to be pulled from the show due to casino age restrictions.  When Stojadinovic was unable to defend his title in December 2008 due to injury, Sanchez and Tony Hervey squared off for an interim title, which Sanchez won by close split decision.  KOTC matchmakers were hopeful to reschedule the Stojadinovic -Sanchez fight for the March 7th show, KOTC: New Breed, in New Mexico.

Other KOTC action that night included:

Light Heavyweight (205 lbs.) – Josh “The Shark” Iuli vs. David Vessup

Fans were ready for some fight action with this first match, and Vessup and Iuli did not disappoint.  Iuli set things off with a hard right, then connecting with more straights as he charged in, but Vessup used his sizable reach advantage to throw high kicks and Muay Thai knees.  Vessup eventually  got the takedown, but after stalemating in the corner for some time, referee Doc Hamilton ordered the stand-up.  In round two, Vessup fired a push kick-left punch combo that dropped Iuli.  Vessup followed that up with ground-and-pound, eventually taking the back and getting the tapout by rear naked choke at 0:30 seconds of the second round.

Lightweight (155 lbs.) – John “Johnny B. Goode” Ulloa vs. Bobby “King” Green

Green, who suspiciously resembles a younger “Krazy Horse” Bennett, opened up with a low kick that Ulloa countered.  Green fired more low kick-overhand right combinations, scoring a takedown and claiming full mount.  Ulloa scrambled out and got a body clinch on Green’s side, but Green escaped, ending up on side mount.  From full mount,  Green cinched in a left armbar.  Ulloa tried to roll through with it, but Green held on and claimed the tapout 2:11 of the 1st round.

Light Heavyweight (205 lbs.) – Dave Cryer vs. Lucas Taber

The first round was largely a feeling out period, as Cryer circled the cage around Taber in the middle, occasionally landing combinations that largely went unanswered.  Cryer fired off an outside right kick that even the fans in back could hear.  And another one.  Taber eventually got his rhythm, engaging more and shooting in under a right mid-kick, but Cryer ended up getting the better of it, doing damage from side mount to the end of the round.  In round two, Cryer continued to keep Taber guessing, launching another right kick with bad intentions.  Taber tried to capitalize on Cryer’s slip off of a combination, but to little avail.  Towards the end of round two, he came to life with a charging combination that was enough trouble that Cryer avoided by clinching up.  By round three, Taber knew he had to do something.  A loud  “DAVE” chant broke out, which then turned into a “FIGHT” chant.  Go figure.  Taber shot for another takedown, which Cryer stuffed effortlessly.  At the 10 second mark, Cryer turned up the heat and tried to finish the match.  Regardless, the judges gave Dave Cryer the unanimous decision.

Featherweight (145 lbs.) – Aaron “The Bloodspiller”Miller vs. Roberto Vargas

Vargas was a house of fire, coming in with combinations that stunned Miller.  Going to one knee, Miller gave up his head and neck, allowing Vargas the chance to slip in a standing guillotine choke at 0:12 of the first round.

KOTC Super Heavyweight (265+ lbs.) Championship – Neil “Chaos” Cooke vs. Chance “King of the Streets” Williams

Williams was anointed the Super Heavyweight title in December when his opponent, Mike Bourke, was unable to compete.  Cooke, coincidentally a teammate of Bourke’s, traditionally fights at heavyweight, but is moving up to challenge the self-proclaimed “King of the Streets” for his title.

Cooke came out firing a right straight, which gave Williams his opening to score a takedown.  Williams bulled Cooke up to the corner.  Cooke was able to get up briefly, but Williams threw him to the ground, taking the back.  Cooke again scrambled to his feet.  They broke apart and threw simultaneous lefts, both landing solidly.  Any normal man would be out by that point.  Williams tried for another takedown, but stepped back to engage.  As he did, Cooke worked some dirty boxing, firing combinations as Williams pulled away.  Williams stopped the assault by grabbing a clinch and pushing Cooke against the cage.  Cooke pulled Williams to the ground and fired rights from behind as referee Herb Dean finally stopped the match at 2:21 of the first round, making Neil “Chaos” Cooke the new King of the Cage Super Heavyweight champion.

Heavyweight (265 lbs.) – Travis Browne vs. Michael Westbrook

Westbrook is a former Washington Redskins wide receiver who’s been studying jiu-jitsu since 1995. Browne set things off with a high left kick.  Westbrook switched between clinching Brown against the cage and throwing overhand rights from afar.  Brown fired a left shin kick which was hard enough that Westbrook turned away.  Browne tried to finish, but Westbrook regained composure and ended up in the top position on the ground.  Westbrook almost got caught  in an armbar / triangle as he tried to pass guard.   Browne continued his right low kick assault in round two.  Several times, Westbrook pushed Brown up against the cage, leaving himself open for a choke.   By round three, Westbrook finally started to counter Browne’s right low kicks, but not the body kicks that came after it. Shortly thereafter, Westbrook fell to the ground, forcing referee Cecil Peoples to call the match at 1:22 of the third round, giving the TKO victory to Michael Brown, due to Westbrook being unable to continue.

KOTC Light Heavyweight (205 lbs.) Championship – Keith “KO Kid” Berry vs. Tony “Kryptonite” Lopez

In an interesting juxtaposition, Tony Lopez dropped down from heavyweight to win the light heavyweight title at KOTC: Misconduct, in October.  Keith Berry is two-time former KOTC middleweight (185 lbs.) champion, moving up to light heavyweight to challenge Lopez for the title.

The name of the game here was a kicking strategy vs. combinations right up the middle, as “Kryptonite” Lopez used high, low, and even side kicks to gauge “The KO Kid.”  For his part, Berry took his time, circling about and measuring Lopez up, firing straight combinations down the pipe.  Berry got stunned by a right head kick in the middle of the first round, giving Lopez the opening to pounce on him with brutal right punches, but Berry amazingly survived, shrimping out from under and getting to his feet.   By this point, the crowd roared their approval for this match.  Berry returned the favor with a combination that almost looked to be Kryptonite’s kryptonite.

Berry opened up the second round with straight punches from jump street.  Several times, Lopez would turn away, at which point Berry charged for the kill with rights from behind.  Engaging face-to-face, Berry used a lot of head movement to avoid Lopez’ shots.  Just at the end of the round, Lopez dropped Berry, who worked from bottom for a triangle choke.  By round three, both men were visibly exhausted.  Lopez was content to steadily chop the Berry tree down with his kicks.  Pun intended.  Right around the four-minute mark, Berry turned on the steam, but Lopez knocked Berry down with a punch combination, following up with more rights until referee Doc Hamilton called the end of the match at 4:29 of the third round.  Lots of cheers and booing.  Both men were well represented outside the cage, as they likewise represented inside the cage also.

KOTC Junior Welterweight (160 lbs.) Championship – Donald Sanchez vs. Victor “Joe Boxer” Valenzuela

This proved to be a classic striking clinic, as “Joe Boxer” lived up to his name and stuck to his strategy of keeping the fight standing, attacking with combinations to the face and body at will.  Conversely, Sanchez utilized a kicking arsenal, shooting in for a takedown whenever Boxer threatened a knockout.  Towards the end of round one, Boxer caught a high right kick, pushing Sanchez to the ground, then letting him stand back up.  This happened again in round three.  Sanchez scored a trip takedown in the second round.  Boxer worked for a kimura from bottom before referee Herb Dean stood them up again.  By round three, Sanchez’ nose was visibly broken and leaking blood over both fighters.  Again, Sanchez scored a takedown, which Boxer used to work a submission from the bottom.  The fourth and fifth rounds were more of the same, with Sanchez shooting in for takedowns as Boxer chose his shots.  In the waning seconds of the match, Sanchez caught a very close armbar, but Boxer rolled with it and ended up in Sanchez’ mount as the bell rang.

Judges award the match to reigning champion Victor “Joe Boxer” Valenzuela by unanimous decision.

King of the Cage returns to the San Manuel Indian  Bingo & Casino in April.  Go to www.KingoftheCage.com for further details.

Verbal Sparring: Dave Cryer (King of the Cage)

Posted in Interviews, King of the Cage with tags , , , , , , on February 4, 2009 by jaytan716

The Dave Cryer story is one we all know well – to never judge a book by its cover.  It’s one that many fans find to be the truth about MMA fighters – that despite tattoos, shaved heads, threatening muscles, and the habit of looking you right in the eye, most fighters are easygoing, approachable, unassuming, friendly guys (and girls).

He’s the fat kid who didn’t like sports, but ended up training to be an MMA fighter.  He has no arrest record, but looks like many guys who do.  And despite standing at a meaty six-foot even and sporting more ink than a Sharpie factory (including where his eyebrows used to be), Dave Cryer is jovial and self-effacing, almost to a fault.  In this interview, we discussed male role models, the meaning of team loyalty, and life as “the tattooed guy.”

JT:  Tell us about where you’re from and how you got into mixed martial arts.

DC:  I’m from all over Southern California. I was born in Anaheim, but I’ve lived everywhere.  I went to high school in Orange County, and then on weekends I hung out in Norwalk.  But I’ve been all over the place.  I’ve been to 30 different schools, just from my mom moving all over the place.

JT:  Did you have brothers and sisters or anything?

DC:  Yeah, it was me, my mom, and my sister.  And my stepdad came around when I was about ten.  That’s when we settled into the one home.

My stepdad showed me a lot of good worth ethic.  I’ve been working with him since I was 10 years old as a diesel mechanic.  Then I stopped working for him when I went into the military for awhile.  I was in the Marine Corps for four years.  Then I came back and worked for him.  He was definitely a father figure.

JT:  Did you go overseas or anything?  What was that like for you?

DC:   September 11th happened, and everyone got motivated after the Twin Towers.  I figured “hey, there’s a reason to go into the military now.”  And I went in on December 11th, hoping to go to war, but it never actually happened.  I just did my time and that was pretty much it.  I can’t say it was the best experience but it was an experience.  I put it on the line.  I just didn’t get to go over there.

JT:  Tell me about your martial arts training.  Did you do anything either in the military or high school?

DC:   I was a big fat loser in high school.  I played football for two years and then I decided I didn’t like sports.  I remember the wrestling coach was like “hey, you wanna wrestle?”  I was like “nah that looks like it’s a lot of work.”

Then there was this old fighter from King of the Cage, Dave Step.  He fought on a very early King of the Cage, he was at 145 pounds.  We were working on the same construction site together.  Someone told me that he was a cage fighter.  And I didn’t really know much about it.  I said “hey, you’re a cage fighter.”  He said “yeah.”  I said “there’s no way you’ll kick my ass.  I’ll whip your ass.”

And thank God he didn’t kick my ass on the job site.  He says “hey, come over to my house.”  And he and his old man beat the shit out of me.  And I remember going “wow, you’ve gotta be kidding me.  Can you teach me some of this stuff?”

I trained with him for five or six times and then I went in the military.  The military martial arts are garbage.  You gotta teach thousands of people, and you can’t really teach them too much.  It doesn’t matter when you have a rifle anyway.

I did some Muay Thai down in San Diego, and then I met John Munoz at Team USA, now Team Pinnacle.  I came to him and said “hey, I want to fight.”  He goes “You should learn first.  We’ll wait until you get blue belt [in jiu-jitsu], then fight.  Do a lot of tournaments.”

And I just started competing.  And I got tired of getting my ass whooped.  Then I started winning.  I won Grappler’s Quest.  Got third in the Pan-Ams, got second the next year, made it to the semis at the World’s, won the Copa-Pacific Open.  Before my first [MMA] fight, I think I competed in like 40 different jiu-jitsu tournaments.  I had never wrestled, so that really helped me out with the ability to compete in front of everybody.  I really thank John for that.

Then John started to teach me some striking.  He called Terry [Trebilcock] and I did my first fight with Uber [Gallegos].  I had so much support, it was amazing.  I think I sold like 250 tickets my first fight.  I was so damn nervous; I don’t remember any of it.   I think that was my first time in a cage, but it went good for me.  That guy was pretty tough.

JT:  Talk about the guys you train with.

I’ve been fortunate.  Now I train at Millennia [MMA].  John still manages me.  I’ve got “Concrete” Chad Davis.  He took me under his wing and put me through the ringer.  I’ve got Ryan Munday, he wrestles.  Then I’ve got Romie [Arum], Betiss [Mansouri], Will [Sriyapai], Reggie Orr.  All those guys help me out a lot.  I still train once in awhile over a Pinnacle.  Those guys helped me out a lot to get me a good solid base, and they still support me and they’re still solid friends of mine.  It’s all about team.  I know it’s an individual sport, but man, without a team, you’re crap.

JT:  Neil Cooke (also a Pinnacle MMA fighter) recently said the same thing.  Even though you’re the one guy that steps into the cage and performs, it’s all about the support network you have around you to get to that point.

DC:   That’s exactly it.  I’ve had so many people help me out, that, if someone didn’t show up, I [had] a big hole in my game.  Because if you’re not getting pushed by your teammates, then you’re gonna lose.  You can’t do this sport on your own.  Some of the guys that are training, they don’t get nothing out of it sometimes.  They just work their ass off every day, for you.  And then you’re the one getting all the money and the glory.  I feel kinda bad for them in that way, but it’s a special breed of person.

JT:  You spoke about it a bit just now, but how would you describe your approach or your philosophy behind your training?

DC:   A lot of people say I abuse my body and overtrain.  I think, just annihilate yourself in the gym, and it comes back to you when you fight.  Because a lot of times, when you’re fighting, you can’t think.  It just comes out of reaction. And if you just murder yourself in the gym, I think it benefits a lot.

I’m a big fan of wrestling.  I never wrestled in high school, but I’m a big fan of Dan Gable, and all those guys just murder themselves in the gym, and they become Olympic champions.  That’s my philosophy.  Not everyone agrees with me.  I don’t think it’s necessarily the right way or wrong way.  It’s just kinda . . . that’s how I train.  But I still think there’s more levels I gotta reach.

JT:  What’s the toughest part for you?  Is it the training?  The mental?

DC:   The hardest fight is all the time away from my family.  I got two kids and an old lady.  I wake up in the morning, I train, I got to work fulltime, I come home, and I train.  So my day starts about six and its ends around eleven o’clock at night.  Sometimes, when I’m leaving, my kids cry because they want to hang out.  And I’m just hoping that it picks up to where I don’t have to work and I can just fight full-time.  But that’s probably the hardest part, being away from all them.  It kinda sucks.

JT:  Tell us about your family life.

DC:   I have an 18-month old and a two and a half-month old.  Both boys.  I can’t handle having no girls. My old lady has five sisters or something like that.  It’s insane!  But my old lady is so supportive, I couldn’t ask for anything more than that.  She’s real responsible, loyal, and good-looking.  Maybe I’ll have three or four more [kids].  I’m pretty good at it, so I might as well stick with it.

JT:  When did you first watching MMA, as a fan?

DC:   Didn’t watch it very much.  I remember the first UFC happened.  I didn’t see it.  One of my stepdad’s friends brought over a tape and I saw 30 seconds of some guy getting elbowed in the head.  I went “oh my gosh, are you kidding me?”  I was young.  Then I just put it to the back burner, never saw fighting again.  I met Dave, still didn’t watch fighting.  Started training jiu-jitsu, still didn’t watch fighting much until about six months before I started fighting.

JT:  So you’ve only been watching it on TV for about two years or so.

DC:   Yeah.  Like when you start talking about the old shows, there’s people that I don’t really know.  Everyone’s bringing people’s names up and I had no idea who they were.  Now I gotta pay close attention because I might be fighting some people some day.

JT:  Let’s switch gears here and talk about your artwork.

DC:   I do plan on covering myself.  No more on the face, because it really hurts the kind of job you can have.  Almost all my work is Celtic and Viking work.  The one on my eyebrows: “Valhalla Bound.”  Valhalla is this belief where the Vikings, when they would die in battle, they would go to Odin’s Valhalla.  And there’s a symbol on each side – one stands for life, one stands for death.

A good friend of mine, Jeremy Huckabee, died in a car accident, and that was his saying.  And I have it tattooed on my face.  A good friend of mine, Mark, had it tattooed on the back of his head, and Jeremy’s wife has it tattooed on the back of her arms.  I think I got it a week after he died.

I got “Hooligan” tattooed across my throat.  Before I had my kid, I was kinda a knucklehead.  Everything else is pretty much all Celtic and Viking. I’m not a big fan of tribal style.  But I wanted to get something meaningful.  Like the big one on my chest is a Thor’s hammer.  And the ones on my shoulders is for Odin the Viking God.  I have Vikings on my arm and Viking boats and stuff.

Tattoos don’t make you tough.  Sure, there’s a lot of guys covered in tattoos who’ll stab you, but tattoos don’t make you tough like people think.  I don’t have tattoos because I want people to think I’m tough.  And most people who are covered in tattoos don’t know how to fight.  They get tattoos because they don’t want to get in fights, and sometimes it intimidates people away.  But if you watch the heavily-tattooed people specifically, most of the time, they’re the ones getting their ass beat.  

JT:  I’m always curious to hear from fighters why they got into the sport.  Do you ever look back and contemplate how far you’ve come and what drove you to fighting?

DC:   When I was a kid, I was always going to punk rock shows, and I really thought I was tough.  But really, I was just big, fat, and dumb.  I had no idea.  And maybe being dumb helped me think I would be tougher, but ever since I really started training, I haven’t been in a street fight.  Which has been about four years.  I haven’t thrown fists with anybody on the street for that long.  And now I never go out anyhow.  Because every drunk guy wants to fight the guy with tattoos.  And I’m not that small of a guy, so everybody wants to fight me.  So I don’t really go out much for that.

But I do look back and I say “man, I’m lucky I never really got hurt too bad.”  Because I did not know how to fight.  And I still have a long way to go now, but back then, I REALLY didn’t know how to fight.  I look back and say “wow, I was an idiot.  I got lucky.  Thank God I never came across anybody who knew what the hell they were doing. ”

JT:  What would you say is your best and worst memory of your career so far?

DC:   The first fight is the most emotional fight ever.  Luckily, I won.  I had people coming up to me, taking my picture, and shaking my hand for the next hour.  That was insane.  I’m so happy I never have to do my first fight again, because I was so nervous.  I just wanted to get it over with.  There was just so much emotion in that.

My worst one was when I fought the guy from Holland [Noufel Amellouk] from last December.  He punched the hell out of me.  Busted my nose in the first round, and I got gassed.  And that is the worst feeling in the world, to get gassed.  I think it had something to do with all the blood going down my throat [after the nose was broken].  We went all the way to a decision, and I ended up winning, but that was one of my tougher fights.

JT:  What’s your downtime like?

DC:   There’s not much of it. I work six days a week.  We (the family) just hang out; take the kids to the park.  My oldest one is walking and somewhat talking.  He’s happy as long as he’s outside and someone’s playing with him.  We’re trying to buy a house, so a lot of times, we’re shopping for a house.  Once in awhile, I go out and see my buddy’s band, Brassic, play.  But really, I have a good time just hanging out with the family.  I don’t need to go to the bars.  I don’t drink.

JT:  Did you never drink, or did you give it up for family or fighting?

DC:   I drank a lot when I was a kid, up until I turned 21.  And since I’ve been training a lot, I’ve had a lot of good influences.  John [Munoz] said “hey man, there’s no point in doing that.”  He was kinda a big role model for me, and John still gives me a lot of good advice.  I look up to him and this old man Jeff, and my buddy Matt.  They gave me a lot of good advice.

Now, I probably drink once a year. I’m getting older now.  I’ve never done a drug in my entire life, and I’ve never been arrested, contrary to what everybody thinks.  I know I look like a convict-tweeker-dopehead, but I’ve never done any of them.

JT:  How do you deal with that dichotomy?  With all the tattoos, you throw a certain image that everyone stereotypes when they see you walking down the street.  But you’ve got this otherwise clean family life. You’ve [gotten tattoos] voluntarily, so did you just accept that this is the price you’ve paid for it?  Or is there anything more to it?

DC:   Well, the cops love me.  Man, they’ll pull me over.  Luckily, it hasn’t happened with my family in the car, because that’s real embarrassing.  Once, they pulled me over and had me half-naked, taking pictures of all my tattoos.

And I know a lot of people decide “man, this guy looks just like some prison white supremacy prick.”  I know some people think that and I’m like “whoa, that’s not how it is. I just have a bunch of tattoos.”  I’ve got a Mexican manager; I’ve got an Afghan trainer.  I just ended up being covered with tattoos.  And once people get to meet me, they’re like “oh, shit, this guys pretty funny.  Not just funny-looking, he’s actually funny.”

That’s why a lot of people support me.  People are really nice to me, but I do get the “man, this guy looks like a dickhead.  He thinks he’s a badass.”  No, I don’t think I’m badass.  There’s a lot of people out there I know who would kick my ass, but I’m working on getting better [laughs].

JT:  Tell us about your sponsors.  Who are they and why should the fans know them?

DC:  I just picked up by Toe-To-Toe clothing.  My good friend Jeremy from Focus Victory hooked me up.  Jeremy’s been with me since my very first fight.  Focus Victory has helped me out with tournaments and everything.  309 helps me out.  Shameless Ink out of Riverside – they help me out a lot.  C&D Pumping, JTS Insurance.  There’s so many; Nutrishop Norco, Sub Q tattoo, my family, everyone at Pinnacle Jiu-Jitsu –  Matt Curl, Jeff Stiller, Ken Knapp, Ryan Mundy, Chad Davis, John Munoz, and the Millennia Fight Team.

I also want to thank San Manuel for letting me fight, because they almost cancelled my fight last time.  They got me confused with Melvin Costa. [Editor’s Note:  At a King of the Cage event on October, 7th, 2007, at Soboba Casino, Dave Cryer lost to Roch Worthy.  After the match, fans that were mistakenly identified as Dave Cryer’s fans racially harassed Worthy as he walked backstage.  They were later identified as fans of Melvin Costa, who was scheduled immediately after the Cryer-Worthy fight.] When I went to San Manuel, I explained the situation [that Dave’s ringside seat fans got in a bar fight the night before and missed the event altogether].  She said “well, if any of your fans say anything racial, we’re gonna pull the fight.”  I said “yeah, that’s not a problem.”

But I understand where they’re coming from, because you don’t want a bunch of fights [in the crowd].  Then nobody’s gonna show back up.  You don’t want a rough crowd.  The sport’s evolved for that too much anyway.  At least they weren’t there to see me get knocked out [laughs].

JT:  What are your long-term goals, with fighting or without fighting?

DC:  I think I’ve got about 10 to 12 years left.  I love fighting.  As much as I can.  I’ve got a good manager, a good team.  John takes care of me.  If I’m ever doing something wrong, he’ll let me know.  Same with my team.  If I start getting 35 and I’m getting my ass kicked all the time, they’re going to let me know “this is a good time to retire.”

My main dream is that I’d love to fight in a King of the Cage event in Japan.  I wish someday King of the Cage would go to Japan, and I’d love to fight over there.  The Japanese are the greatest fans.  They love martial arts, and I think they’d get a kick out of me.

Terry’s helped me out.  He’s been loyal to me and I’m not going anywhere.  King of the Cage is my home.

Dave Cryer steps in the cage against Lucas Taber at King of the Cage: Immortal, on February 26th, at the San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino in Highlands, CA.

Spiritwolf, Joker score big wins at KOTC: Prowler

Posted in King of the Cage with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2008 by jaytan716

King of the Cage wrapped up their 2008 schedule with a match of the year candidate and several upset surprises in the welterweight neighborhood on December 11th at the San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino in San Bernadino, CA.

The big news was previously-undecorated Mike “Joker” Guymon winning the first world title of his career in a by submitting Anthony “The Recipe” Lapsley at 3:37 of the fourth round. This match was a back-and-forth clinic in Jiu-Jitsu control, as Joker came from behind in the scorecards to turn the heat up in the third and fourth rounds, bringing the crowd to a fever pitch. This was Lapsley’s first defense after beating Aaron “Slam” Wetherspoon in August.

Of his victory, Joker reflected “this feels amazing. It’s the most emotional thing I’ve ever dealt with. I’ve scarified so much for this fight. I’ve seen what[Lapsley] can do and I respected him as a fighter. . . People like Mark Munoz [helped] me get ready for it. I keep telling people I’m surrounded by angels and he’s definitely one of them. Everybody in my life, they’ve all sacrificed for me to get to this point. All that emotion coming out is my way of thanking them. “

When asked about a rematch, Joker didn’t hesitate: “I’d give him a rematch. He earned it. I have full respect for him. I wouldn’t want to do it [laughs]. That was one fuckin’ war.“

Lapsley’s cornerman and mentor, Andrew “Cobra” Rhodes, commented “I think harnessing all the energy, all the nerves, with his first title defense, I think it was an outstanding performance by both of the fighters. Anthony came up short tonight, and I think it might be, for all intents and purposes, one of the best things to happen to him. To be in a top tier organization, defending the pinnacle of that organization. . . Now we’re going to see what kind of dish The Recipe comes back with, now that he’s faced adversity.”

The other shakeup in the welterweight ranks came at the hands of Wachiim Spiritwolf, who scored a flash KO over Rick “The IE Bad Boy” Legere at 0:16 in the second round. This match was to determine the #1 contender for the KOTC Welterweight title. Spiritwolf, a top student of Dean Lister’s Jiu-Jitsu school, was making his King of the Cage debut against Legere, who was on a six-fight winning streak ever since making his MMA debut last year at “King of the Cage: Point of No Return.”

These respective victories now pit Spiritwolf against Joker in a future title match for the KOTC welterweight title.

The other scheduled championship fight, a rematch between Chance “King of the Streets” Williams and Mike “Rhino” Bourke, ended up not taking place, when the attending fight doctor determined Bourke unfit to fight after Bourke fell off the walkout ramp in a freak accident at the beginning of the show. Backstage, Bourke complained of difficulty in breathing, and upon further examination, the fight doctor suspected that Bourke had fractured a rib, which left him susceptible to puncturing a lung if allowed to fight. Later, in private, KOTC founder Terry Trebilcock awarded Williams the Super Heavyweight title.

Williams said “I didn’t want to win the belt like this. But things happen. God bless him. Whatever.”

The event itself marked the end of a tireless year in which the KOTC staff organized and promoted over 24 events throughout the U.S. When asked his assessment of the promotion’s move this year to San Manuel, matchmaker Shingo Kashiwagi said “Ever since we moved to San Manuel, the quality of the shows and the production gets better and better. I think we ended the show this year with a phenomenal fight. Probably the best fight of the year. The best grappling I’ve ever seen. I think this is a good sign of a lot of exciting stuff for next year.”

Other KOTC action that night included:

Featherweight (145 lbs.) – Vincent Martinez vs. Fernando Bernstein
Fernando Bernstein caught Vincent Martinez with a triangle choke at 2:46 in the second round.

Lightweight (155 lbs.) – John Ulloa vs. Johnny Gomez
John Ulloa beat Johnny Gomez at the 2:00 mark by TKO with a flurry of punches.

Lightweight (155 lbs.) – Julio Sotomayor vs. Dominic Verdugo
Judges gave the match to Dominic Verdugo by split decision.

Bantamweight (135 lbs.) – Yosuke Koreeda vs. Anthony Guerra
Guerra, fighting out of Millennia Gym, charges Koreeda for the takedown. After breaking apart, Guerra hit Koreeda hard on the jaw, but Koreeda responded instinctively with an overhand right that dropped Guerra at 0:21 in the first round.

Light Heavyweight (205 lbs.) – Dave Cryer vs. Anthony Jones
Cryer and Jones came out swinging for the fences. Cryer, who is one of the more committed walking tattoo canvases in MMA, took Jones down and dominated with elbows and body shots. Jones walked the cage and was able to get to his feet, but the damage was done and he was bleeding badly. He secured a tight guillotine on Cryer, and kept it as Cryer took him to the ground just before the round ended. This crowd loved this match.

Unfortunately, the crowd didn’t love the fight doctor’s decision to stop the match due to a large cut over Jones’ right eye. Dave Cryer took the victory via TKO / doctor’s stoppage.

Featherweight (145 lbs.) – Aaron Miller vs. Brian Abram
Miller and Abram started with another fan-friendly flurry of strikes right off the bat. The first round saw Miller work hard for a takedown, going for double-legs, Hi-C’s, and judo trips. Abram, who took the match on a 10-day notice, was cautious but explosive. Round two saw the two combatants engaging more cautiously, looking for the knockout shot. Miller especially seemed to employ more kicks, although he also made several unsuccessful takedown attempts. In the third round, Miller unleashed a flurry of strikes from the get-go. Abram landed a hard right that had more than a few fans audibly comment “ooowww, shit!” Both men swung heavy shots that missed, but neither threw from inside the pocket. In the end, judges gave the match to Aaron Miller via unanimous decision.

Welterweight (170 lbs.) – Wachiim Spiritwolf vs. Rick Legere
The crowd was nuts for this one, as both Legere and Spiritwolf have strong San Bernadino / Inland Empire followings. In round one, Spiritwolf stunned Legere with a right straight, but the IE Bad Boy would come back with three takedowns throughout the round, a guillotine choke attempt, and some damaging ground-and-pound. Spiritwolf got a guillotine of his own before the end of the round. However, in round two, Spiritwolf landed a “hooky left jab” at 0:15 that nobody would question. This now lines Spiritwolf up with a title shot at the reigning KOTC welterweight champion.

Welterweight (170 lbs.) – Brian Warren vs. Joe Boxer / Victor Valenzuela
Valenzuela, who now seems to be going solely by the “Joe Boxer” moniker, moved up from junior welterweight (160 lbs.) to take on Brian Warren at welterweight. The first round saw a lot of jockeying for position, either from the clinch on the feet or with Warrant on top. Warren worked a lot of foot stomps from the clinch, much to the chagrin of local fans. Early in round two, Boxer dropped Warren with a right cross, but The Unbreakable One was able to recover. At one point, Warren ended up in bottom position and worked for a triangle, but to no avail. Standing, Boxer continued to pressure Warren throughout the round, which often saw Warren shoot for the double-leg. Warren kept Boxer at bay with front kicks. The third round consisted primarily of clinches against the cage, foot stomps, and trip takedown attempts. Judges awarded the match to Brian Warren via unanimous decision.

King of the Cage Welteweight Championship – Mike Guymon vs. Anthony Lapsley
I don’t think you could have a more apt demonstration of sportsmanship between two fighters than between Lapsley and Guymon. The two were always mutually friendly at prior events, and both spoke highly of each other in pre-fight interviews.

Round One: Lapsley got a takedown using the momentum of bouncing off the cage. Joker was composed and nonplussed on the bottom, even when Lapsley took his back. Joker worked for an armbar, then a triangle choke once Lapsley got in his guard. This was already a tremendous Jiu-Jitsu fight. Lapsley didn’t getting many shots in, but he used his wrestling to keep Joker down. Joker climbed the cage wall to get up, spinning Lapsley against the cage and scoring a trip takedown. He proceeded to rain down damaging elbows. Lapsley used the same escape door and walked the cage to get out from bottom. They got in whizzer position, but Joker followed Lapsley to the ground and continued the ground-and-pound assault. Lapsley regained top position with a trip and worked for a combination reverse triangle-and-armlock. He eventually gots folkstyle side control, but Joker reversed position again just before the bell rangs. This was all in the first round.

Round Two: Both these guys had big smiles on their faces. So did most of the fans. Lapsley charged in, but slipped, giving Joker just enough to shoot for a takedown from afar. Lapsley reversed position with a sweep and stood up, but Joker took him down again. He kept Lapsley against the cage with side control. But Lapsley threw knees from bottom and reversed, taking Joker’s back. Despite Joker’s best efforts, Lapsley maintained top control. Joker reversed and got side mount, only for Lapsley to buck and regain control again. Lapsley is great at reversing and getting top control, but Joker proved quite adept at muting his offense from above. Both fighters traded strikes from the ground for the rest of the round.

Round Three: Lapsley charged again, ending up on top. Joker continued to work on his left arm from below. The position changes were too fast to keep track. Lapsley spun outwards to avoid getting caught. Lapsley outwrestled Joker, but he wasn’t able to build up enough offense to gain any real ground. Joker almost caught Lapsley in a triangle, but he pulled out, spun around, and almost secured a rear naked choke. Seriously, they were that fast. They ended up on their feet again, only for Joker to score the takedown. And only for Lapsley to work for the armbar. But Joker dropped some heavy shots, including one that opened Lapsley up on the right side of his eyebrow. By the end of the round, both of them were fighting on empty.

Round Four: Joker ducked a left straight and scored a textbook takedown. That’s not easy to do on a state wrestling champion from the Midwest. Joker dropped hard elbows, but Lapsley scrapped out and got what can best be described as a spin takedown. But Joker followed up with the same thing, working into a front headlock. Lapsley fought for a single-leg, but couldn’t get it. Finally, he escaped, but Joker pushed him down again and proceeded to drop bombs. The crowd was at a fever pitch. Joker got the back and stretched him out, but Lapsley survived to the end of the round.

Round 5: They started out in the middle of the ring with a hug. These men knew they’d created a match for the ages. Joker charged in for a takedown, but moments later, referee Herb Dean called a time-out. As if we hadn’t seen just about everything in this match, Joker’s cup had fallen out of his shorts. There’s a first for everything, I suppose. Restart. Joker threw a hard low kick, followed by a takedown. Lapsley blocked it, but being against the cage, Joker was able to get top position. He went for a guillotine, but Lapsley pushed him back with a flurry of punches. Joker retaliated with a hard right, but that only triggered the champ with further attack. Joker came out on the better end of a fight for position, taking side control. Lapsley slipped out the back door and slapped on a side choke. Joker escaped and they reengaged on their feet. Joker with a combo and Lapsley with a guillotine. But Joker got top position again, sunk in his own side choke, and at 3:37 of the fifth and final round, became the new King of the Cage welterweight champion.

As fans filtered out of the arena, KOTC VP of Operations Mike Low summarized “Without a doubt, that was match of the year. I just sat there and I couldn’t believe the match I was watching.”

King of the Cage returns to the San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino on February 26th, 2009. No less than four KOTC champions are scheduled to fight, including Mike “Joker” Guymon (welterweight), Joe Boxer (super welterweight), Lazar Strojadinoic (bantamweight), and KOTC double-champion Tony “Kryptonite” Lopez, who defends his light heavyweight title.