Archive for Dawna Gonzales

Recent 10th Planet News

Posted in 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2010 by jaytan716

To say that 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu has started the year off with a bang would be an understatement. Only six weeks into the year and not only has Eddie Bravo’s network of schools competed and placed in several major tournaments, but they also saw the promotion of Bravo’s second black belt in the 10th Planet solar system – Sean Bollinger (Riverside). Denny Prokopos (San Francisco) became 10th Planet’s inaugural black belt in September last year.

Denny Prokopos & Sean Bollinger become 10th Planet’s first black belts ever

“We’ve got a lot of resistance going on from the traditional community, which is kinda crazy. I never meant it to start that way. I was trying to improve jiu jitsu for jiu jitsu. . . Having Denny represent, that’s where we need to be right now,” reflected Bravo in a video interview after the promotion.

For Prokopos, receiving his black belt “was like graduating college, with a Ph.D., and to be the valedictorian of my class. And I’m also graduating from one of the finest jiu jitsu universities in the word.”

That 10th Planet degree was put to the test six weeks later, as Prokopos competed in the World Jiu-Jitsu No-Gi Championships in November, taking third place in his Black Belt Adult division against jiu jitsu masters such as Rodrigo Ranieri and Baret Yoshida.

“Right off the bat, I proved that I’m a world-class black belt. . . It’s one thing to know about the style. It’s another thing to be able to use it and apply it at the highest levels.”

Of his mentor, Prokopos said “it’s one thing to have a jiu Jitsu coach, it’s another thing to have a jiu jitsu coach, somebody that you love, somebody that you respect so much as a person.”

On the heels of Prokopos, Sean Bollinger was also recognized for his skills and expertise with his black belt in late January. The young head instructor of 10th Planet Riverside was apparently caught off guard with the promotion, saying “Eddie was all like ‘you need to win first place in a big tournament’ . . . I was thinking I’d have to go do a NAGA or Grapplers’ Quest. Go get a gold real quick and then I’d get my black belt. So when he came out and gave me [my belt], it was definitely a surprise. But I think I’ve put in the work. I do feel good about it.”

Both Prokopos and Bollinger face new responsibilities as the sole 10th Planet black belts, not just for that level of recognition, but also as they spearhead their own school branches. With Bollinger’s school taking the 10th Planet reach into the Southern California Inland Empire, Prokopos’ San Francisco dojo has stood for the past two years amidst other noted grappling schools like Cesar Gracie and Jake Shields’ respective Gracie Fighter academies, as well as MMA gyms such as Fairtex and American Kickboxing Academy (AKA).

Additionally, Bollinger is training for an MMA fight against second-generation star Ryan Couture, scheduled for March 26th at Tuff-N-Uff Amateur Fighting Championships in Las Vegas. Bollinger is currently 2-0 in amateur MMA competition.

“It’s a win-win situation for me. That’s how I look at it. I just feel blessed with the opportunity. . . Because I think I could build a good name in that whole organization. Especially after this fight, when people know what’s up.”

Additionally, a group of students from Headquarters and Burbank were also recently promoted, including new blue belts Will Allen, Mel Blanco, Alex Branom, Steve Cox, Matt Dempsey, Scott Elkin, Karen Ferguson, Michel Francoeur, Juli Fung, Tommy Gavin, Carlos Hernandez, Matt Horwich, Alan Jouban, Howard Lee, Richard Mattke, Kyle McGough, Anthony Nealy, Rachel Tan, and Wade Thomas.

Congratulations to all the recent 10th Planet promotions for the deserved recognition of their hard work and spirit.

10th Planet at Gracie Nationals

One of the bigger annual jiu jitsu tournaments, the Gracie US Nationals, took place as part of the Los Angeles Fitness Expo in Los Angeles in January. Among the placers were silver medalists Juli Fung (Burbank / Headquarters; Female Beginners 135 lbs.), Miguel Orozco (Burbank; Male Beginners 135 lbs.), and John Bottello (10th Planet Arizona head instructor; Male Advanced 145 lbs.).

“I feel fantastic. I learned so much, I can’t wait to do the next one,” said Fung after her win.

Amir Allam (Burbank / Headquarters) had a particularly busy day, not only claiming gold status in the Men’s Advanced 206 lbs. division, but also treating fans to an impromptu special exhibition match against MMA fighter Josh Barnett, who showed up only to discover that there were no other opponents in Barnett’s division. Faced with clocking out early for the day, Barnett asked Allam to roll in an exhibition match, to which the purple belt agreed. The scrap itself was competitive between opponents until Barnett caught Allam with a leglock.

Especially worthy of note was the Davila family’s accomplishments, as young Victor Jr. and his uncle Jose (both Burbank) claimed gold in their respective divisions.

Headquarters’ purple belts Ralf Warneking, Ian Quinto, and Dave Callaham also competed at this tournament, as did a large contingent from 10th Planet Phoenix, which included (beside Botello) Annie Jamarillo (Phoenix), Joe Montoya, and Ruben Garcia.

“It was great competing alongside people from Headquarters and Burbank. After the tournament, we celebrated my birthday. Eddie’s show the night before was great too. Just a fun time all around,” said Botello.

“I thought it was great that Arizona came all the way out to compete and trained with us all the week before,” noted Fung in the days after the event.

Scottie Epstein coaching Team Liddell for TUF 11

As reported previously on the Legends MMA blog, brown belt Scottie “Einstein” Epstein (Headquarters) will be featured as Chuck Liddell’s jiu jitsu coach for the 11th season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” which is anticipated to debut on Spike TV in April.

Regarding the show itself, Epstein is bound to confidentiality, but when asked if he was enjoying the experience, the enthusiasm was obvious: “it’s been a great experience. . . I was led to believe it was the worst thing ever. I’m like ‘what are you, kidding me?’ I get paid to train motherfuckers. I’m a roommate with Chuck Liddell. All our food is covered. Anywhere we want to go; just one phone call and we’re red carpeted. I wish my whole life could be like this.”

Epstein also spoke positively about the fighters themselves, noting “all the guys that I teach really want to learn. They pull me to the side and ask me how to do something. They’re very open-minded.”

Filming is scheduled to end in early March, at which point Epstein and Liddell will focus on preparing for a second rematch against Tito Ortiz, scheduled for UFC 115 in June.

10th Planet at Grappling X No-Gi Tournament

Finally, you could say that this year, February 14th was for lovers and fighters, as the Grappling X No-Gi tournament took place that day in Long Beach, CA. Of the several different 10th Planet schools representing at the tournament, Burbank in particular shined brightly, with gold medals for Kim Ferguson (Women’s Advanced 130 lbs.) and Richard Mattke (Men’s Beginner 180 lbs.), silver for Ronnie Castro (Men’s Novice Absolute Division) and Aren Asefi (Men’s Novice 145 lbs), and bronze for Miguel Orozco (Men’s Novice 135 lbs.), Rachel Tan (Women’s Beginner 115 lbs.), and Michael Pack.

This being his freshman tournament, Castro particularly impressed his teammates. Purple belt Dustin Shaw (Headquarters) noted “entering the absolute division is a big step for anybody, especially if it’s their first tournament. And he was doing really well against all these guys that are just as big as him and competing for years. So I think he’s going to be a really good competitor, very quickly.”

Headquarters member Erik “Compella” Cruz also noted Orozco’s steady and rapid development, noting “he put his opponent to sleep. That kid’s gonna be a force to be reckoned with. He’s already really smooth.”

Not to be overlooked, Burbank’s Michael Fausto battled through five bouts in a stacked division to a laud-worthy fourth place finish, finishing most of his opponents with triangle chokes.

Headquarters earned their fair share of battle bling as well, as Steve Cox (Intermediate 145 lbs) and Drew Springer took gold. Dawna Gonzales (Women’s Beginner 130 lbs.) and Conor “The Hurricane” Heun (Men’s Advanced 175 lbs.) placed silver in their respective divisions. Dustin Shaw claimed bronze in his Advanced Men’s 145 lbs. division.

Of his own debut in the Men’s Advanced 175 lb. bracket, Compella said “at first, I was nervous going in, but once I got through it, I was like ‘I can do this again.’ I really thought – one or two changes here or there, I can easily win. I don’t see it too far in the reach.”

Also competing were Headquarters members Scott Palmer, Sanni Wehbe, Jr., and Jason Eisner.

“I think everybody did really well. It was amazing to watch Conor roll his first competition back after knee surgery. . . Compella put on a rubber guard clinic. . . Loved watching the other advanced guys – Justin, and Jason Eisner. . . It was beautiful to watch, and it was exciting to watch all the beginner people just go for it. There was not one person on a 10th Planet team that I watched that I was not just absolutely thrilled and proud of, because everybody pulled off something that we worked on every day. And you can’t ask for more than that, and us being an incredibly supportive team, cheering each other on,” said Gonzales.

“There was a time I can remember where 10th Planet would have four or five people in a tournament, and that was a pretty good turnout. . . and [people were] constantly saying that we never competed, and all this stuff that we did never really works and whatever. Now we’ve got all these up and coming people coming in there and winning their divisions. First and second place all over the place,” reflected Shaw.

Other 10th Planet / Pro MMA Fighter Notes

Congratulations to traditional black belt / 10th Planet member George Sotiropolous for his dominant victory over Joe “Daddy” Stevenson in his homeland of Australia at UFC 110. Sotiropolous employed every bit of his 10th Planet repertoire, on top and from bottom, to threaten and thwart Stevenson, himself a black belt under Robert Drysdale. The native Aussie walked away with a 30-27 unanimous decision.

And speaking of 10th Planet students in the UFC, kudos, props, and best wishes go out to Burbank’s Alder Hampel and Dan Hardy (Headquarters), as they prepare for Hardy’s March 27th challenge for George St-Pierre’s UFC welterweight title.

Check back here for more 10th Planet news.

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Legends Finishes the Year with Blood and Sweat, but No Tears

Posted in Legends MMA, Live Event Reports, Tuff-N-Uff with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2009 by jaytan716

The final Tuff-N-Uff of 2009 took place on November 27th, at the Orleans Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, NV.Legends MMA wrapped up their competitive team schedule over the weekend, sending up three fighters – Eddie Jackson, Chris Brady, and newcomer Tommy Gavin – to fight at the final Tuff-N-Uff amateur MMA event of the year.  Gavin and Jackson both emerged victorious with crowd-pleasing first-round finishes, while Brady battled over three three-minute rounds to the short end of a close and debatable unanimous decision.

In the days after the fight, head trainer Chris Reilly commented “obviously, I’m really proud of the guys.  Everybody fought their hearts out, and they always do.”

“Obviously, Tommy was as technically perfect as somebody can be, for their debut, on a big show like that. . . Eddie Jackson is Eddie Jackson.  We always know he comes to fight.  But I thought he looked [calmer] and [more] composed this fight than he has in the past, which is where we’re trying to go with him. . . Brady had a great fight.  He was in there banging the whole time.  Certainly not a performance that he should have any shame about.”

Lightweight Tommy Gavin won his debut Tuff-N-Uff match in under a minute by submission.

155 lbs. – Tommy Gavin vs. Rob Isenor (Striking Unlimited)

Gavin, the younger brother of pro fighter Steve Gavin, is one of the two recent additions to the Legends MMA amateur team.  He was originally scheduled to face Alex Brooks of Hawaiian Fighting Arts, but Brooks was forced to pull out at the last minute due to injury.

In a match that was almost too short to report, after a very brief feeling out period, Gavin shot in for a takedown, took full mount, and slapped on an arm triangle.  Isenor was asleep before the referee was able to stop the match at 0:46 seconds of the first round.

“I remember he was throwing fast kicks.  I took him down and I transitioned right into the arm triangle,” said Gavin, whose thoughts on the match were as brief as the match itself.

Apparently, Gavin channeled the spirit of Babe Ruth and his famous “called shot,” as the young lightweight decided backstage exactly how he’d finish the match.  According to Reilly, “right before he actually went to fight, he goes ‘I’m gonna take this guy down quick, and choke him out.’  I was like ‘well, that’s the game plan.’ And he did it.”

Eddie Jackson tagged Jesse Bowler early in the first round with this right.

170 lbs. – Eddie Jackson (Legends MMA) vs. Jesse Bowler (Filipino MMA)

Jackson, known for his heavy hands and don’t-blink TKO finishes, faced one of his toughest challenges in Bowler, who was riding back-to-back submission wins.

After an awkward front kick from Bowler, Jackson charged in and clinched up in the corner.  Bowler was able to tie up with double underhooks, but Jackson countered with Muay Thai knees and right punches to break them apart.  He chased after Bowler to the other side of the ring and dropped him to his butt with a right hook that many thought would end the match.  But Bowler was able to recover, clinching up against the ropes.  Bowler tried grounding Jackson with a side headlock takedown, but Jackson slipped out from behind, following up shortly thereafter with a left hook that proved to be the beginning to the end.  Jackson complemented the shot with ground and pound until the referee stopped the match.

Fully aware that Bowler’s headlock takedown / neck crank was his signature submission, Jackson worked extensively with teammate Bryan Brown, a 13-year wrestling veteran, to avoid the scenario.  When he found himself in Bowler’s clutch, Jackson said “I panicked a little bit, because that’s how he caught everybody, with that same fuckin’ headlock. . . I knew what to do, and I did exactly what I had to do.  I snuck out the back door.”

Post-fight, Brown was beaming, saying “I was so proud.  It went exactly like we thought it would.  He did everything that he said he was going to do, and it just worked out perfectly . . . His takedown defense was much improved since the last time I saw him fight. . . And I just knew Eddie’s striking was on a whole other level.”

135 lbs. – Chris Brady (Legends MMA) vs. Gor Mnatsakanyan (Filipino MMA)

Brady’s prior two outings, both with Xtreme Couture’s Jimmy Jones, ended in misfortune and controversy.  During that same time, Mnatsakanyan notched up a pair of unanimous decision wins, each time surprising fans and commentators who debated the verdicts.  With those ingredients, this match was sure to provide a fresh and engaging challenge for each combatant.

Chris Brady and Gor Mnatsakanyan traded leather on the feet for most of a 3 x 3 round war of attrition.

After a brief trade in the first round, Mnatsakanyan set the pace by circling the perimeter of the ring, stick-and-moving with high-kick and side-kick combinations, while Brady stalked him from the center.  Brady tagged Mnatsakanyan with an overhand right before getting taken down.  However, Brady held his knees up to prevent Mnatsakanyan from fully passing guard.  Mnatsakanyan later knocked Brady down with a three-punch combo, punctuated with a high left kick, just before the end of the round.  The second round saw more circling and stalking, respectively, and another trip takedown with Mnatsakanyan on top.  Brady reversed and dropped punches briefly, but then let up.  Brady stayed competitive, landing counterstrike combinations.  He went into overdrive in round three, throwing a flying knee and employing a Thai clinch at separate times.  Both men exchanged spinning backhands at one point.  Brady scored a takedown, but let Mnatsakanyan, who by then was visibly winded, up to his feet.  They were against the ropes exchanging body shots as the final round ended.

Judges award the match to Gor Mnatsakanyan by unanimous decision off scores of 30-27, 30-27, and 29-28.

“It always sucks to lose,” said Brady matter-of-factly.  “I was trying to stay tight with my defense, because I knew he was gonna be throwing some crazy shit like that.  Put pressure on him, and try to outwork him there.  I don’t know.  I felt like I was landing hard punches.  I didn’t kick nearly as much in this fight.  I think I probably should have kicked a little more,” said Brady in retrospect.

Of his protégé’s performance, Reilly said “I think he just let himself get slightly outworked by a guy that was throwing a lot of stuff.  Nothing was really all that accurate.  [Mnatsakanyan] didn’t really hit him that hard. . . It was hard, coming off the disappointment in the last fight [in August, against Jones] . . . I think that’s why he probably has a hard time getting fully back up for this fight.  So obviously I’d like to see a rematch there.  I think that’s a fight Brady wins more often than he loses it.  I know he’s probably disappointed, but it was probably a good learning experience for him.”

Nevertheless, Reilly is confident that his young star will bounce back: “Brady’s a veteran at this point.  He’s got over 13 Muay Thai fights and nine MMA fights, so he’s seen both sides of wins and losses in fights.  And he’s in it for life.  This is his career.  It’s always tough to take a loss.  If it’s not, you’re not in the right sport.”

Although there was no vocal debate over the decision, several people believed Brady won the fight.  Teammate Brown noted “I seriously thought that even though the dude was throwing flashy shit, I thought it looked better than it was in it’s effectiveness.  I thought that all of Brady’s countershots and his really clean striking did more damage.  And so, even though the guy might have outstruck him in the first round, I actually really thought Brady won the second and the third round.”

Despite the decision, Brady’s spirits stayed high in the aftermath.  “It’s cool to go up there and fight and be around all the famous legends.  Last time. . . after fighting Jimmy Jones, Randy Couture said ‘great fight, kid.’ Gave me daps.  And this time, after that fight, Wanderlei Silva was in the crowd, was looking at me and he looked at me and he pointed at me and he put his hand over his chest, like ‘you got heart.’  And I was like ‘word!’ .  . . It’s confirmation that I’m not doing this for nothing.”

Two other fighters, Takashi Munoz and Christian Palencia, were also scheduled to compete, but injuries in the last two weeks of training sidelined them from getting in one last fight for the year.

“It was sad not to get a couple of the other guys on, because they were really well prepared too . . . both pretty heavy-duty injuries, especially a week before a fight. Not something that anybody could have fought through,” said Reilly.

But the team is optimistic for their prospects for 2010.  The October opening of Legends’ new location has brought about a hungry new squad of aspiring fighters, many of whom will likely debut next year.  Leading the pack are middleweights Bryan Brown and Ryan Lupkes, while teammates like Jacob Martel, Benjamin Sample, Lila Smadja, Bex Fouquet, and Dawna Gonzales look to represent Legends for the first time.  Likewise, Munoz, Palencia, and Strikeforce lightweight Conor “The Hurricane” Heun will set out to put injuries behind them and return to their winning ways.

“I think these guys are in great shape, and I think there’s been a huge added benefit to coming into this new facility.  We have a lot more space.  We have a lot more areas for guys to train.  It’s attracting a lot of the big-name pros back. . . So it’s a constant state of evolution, and all we can keep doing is keep working and keep trying to improve and keep trying to bring in fresh talent.  I think we’re all getting to where we’re trying to go,” commented Reilly.

Brady added, “everybody knows that if you’re fighting the guys from Legends, it’s gonna be a helluva fight.  I feel like the promoters and the people of Las Vegas, and the fighters themselves knows that Chris Brady, Eddie Jackson, Takashi Munoz, Chris Reilly, Conor Heun and those guys – we come and we fuckin’ bring it.  Every fuckin’ time.”

In other Tuff-N-Uff action that night:

Chris Alvanado (Striking Unlimited) defeated Colt “45” Bowler (Filipino MMA) by unanimous decision

Marcus Aven (Right Cross from PB Fight Center) defeated Eric Center (Xtreme Couture) by submission (armbar), round 1

Jordan Wright (Strike Sub Club) defeated Justin Rote (Freestyle) by submission (triangle choke), round 1

Joden Seiders (Throwdown) defeated Chris Holiday (Alliance MMA) by TKO (strikes), round 1

Tim Bowman (Striking Unlimited) defeated Dan McCoy (Fighting Dragons) by TKO (strikes), round 1

Edmond Xhelili (Warriors / Top Notch) defeated Brandon Sheard (Alliance MMA) by TKO (strikes), round 2

Evva Johnson (Sommerset Karate) defeated Kristen Mason (PKG) by submission (armbar), round 1

Victor Henry (Strike Sub Club) defeated Cory Jeffers (Xtreme Couture) by TKO (Jeffers was unable to answer the bell for round 3)

Joe Ray (Striking Unlimited) defeated P.J. Dombrowski (Xtreme Couture) by TKO (strikes), round 1

Cory Turner (IMMA) defeated Anthony Lee (Never Tired) by TKO, round 3

Latasha Marzolla (Xtreme Couture) defeated Kate McGray (Strike Sub Club) by unanimous decision

Tuff-N-Uff Amateur Fighting Championships returns to the Orleans Hotel & Casino on Saturday, January 8th, 2010.  Go to www.TuffNUff.net or www.OrleansCasino.com for details on buying tickets and reserving rooms, and check back here for details on Legends’ next fights.

Mulhern upsets Brennan’s comeback; Hervey, Guymon emerge victorious at “KOTC: Militia”

Posted in King of the Cage, Live Event Reports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 12, 2009 by jaytan716

“I’d rather lose an exciting fight, than win a boring one.”  Those words emblazon the official Chris Brennan website.

They’re also words to stand by, as the three-time King of the Cage middleweight champion’s return to KOTC action was iced by jiu-jitsu young gun Quinn Mulhern, with an exciting but brief first-round submission stoppage at last week’s King of the Cage: Militia event at the San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino in Highland, CA.

Brennan, who held the middleweight title when the division was at 170 lbs., came out of a 21-month MMA hiatus and a seven-year departure from King of the Cage.

“I never really did [retire].  I needed to take some time off.  My body was beat up and I started training a bunch of kids . . . I was so busy doing all the other stuff that I was doing that I didn’t have time to train for myself.  I didn’t want to take a fight without being fully prepared. . . A year or two years before that, I fought almost, I think, nine times in a year.  So I was just kinda burned out and wanted a little break,” he explained.

The match itself was a rapid ground scrap which saw Mulhern keep pace with Brennan, trapping him in two uma platas before a rib injury forced Brennan to concede at the two minute mark of the first round.

“Knowing he was trying to set up a triangle, I ducked my head out of the triangle . . . because I knew I wasn’t going to get caught with that, and rolled out.  And then my plan was to do the same thing the second time, but when I was trying to roll was when [the rib injury] happened, and I was like ‘oh fuck!’ . . . The referee asked if I wanted out, and I said ‘no, but my ribs are out.’ And then I tried to yank my arm to twist a little bit and throw a punch, and I couldn’t even move.  I said ‘oh, well, I guess so.’  It wasn’t the uma plata that finished the fight.  I hurt myself.”

Brennan, dubbed “The Westside Strangler,” for his history of famous chokeout victories, owns several “Next Generation Jiu-Jitsu” schools in North America and Europe.  Mulhern, a young protégé of BJJ expert Alberto Crane (who also fought on the same card), has a Grappler’s Quest championship under his brown belt, and went into the Brennan match with an unblemished 7-0 record.

In other KOTC action, reigning welterweight champion Mike “Joker” Guymon beat Kasey “Ice Cold” Uscola with a second round TKO of a non-title defense that was set at a 175 lb. catchweight.  Guymon fought back from a challenging first round which saw Uscola take the welterweight king down twice, working ground-and-pound in each instance.

Tony Hervey had the shortest shift of the night, knocking out Alberto Crane in 12 seconds of the first round.  “It was weird.  But as soon as he jumped guard, he jumped to my wrists.   He didn’t even have my arm hooked.  So I’m still standing, planted, and the first – as soon as I made first hit, his eyes were [rolled back] like that. . . I don’t know how many landed, but I just know two for a fact – lights out,” Hervey explained after the match.

The following is a match-by-match report on the night’s fights:

Middleweight (185 lbs.) Estephan Jiminez (Team Execution) vs. Armondo “Chino” Montoya (Team Wildman)

Jiminez got the takedown early in the first round, pushing Montoya into the ground and throwing big bombs standing.  Montoya tried to minimize the damage with a high / butterfly guard.  Jiminez actually was able to step back and work for a kimura while nearly in Montoya’s butterfly guard.  In round two, Montoya came out as a house of fire, tagging Jiminez and getting top position on the ground.  He worked for a guillotine, to a rear naked choke, back to a guillotine from bottom position, before Jiminez tapped out at 1:23 of round two.

Welterweight (170 lbs.) George Sanchez (Empire Training Center) vs. Joe “Jo” Lewis (Unbreakable Gym)

Sanchez was originally scheduled to fight another opponent on the May KOTC: Storm show at Lake Elsinore, CA, but the match was pulled after his opponent failed to make weight.

Lewis got Sanchez to the ground in round one with a big, crowd-pleasing slam, but Sanchez retaliated by almost catching Lewis with an armbar.  After referee Larry Landless, making a comeback to cage regulation, ordered a stand-up, the combatants traded solid kicks.  Sanchez tagged Lewis with a low right kick that was hard enough that Lewis gave him a dap for it.  For his part, Lewis threw some nice kicks that kept Sanchez at bay.

Round two imitate the beginning of round one, in that Lewis got Sanchez to the ground and took top position while Sanchez threatened him with submissions.  Sanchez finally swept and got full mount.  When Lewis gave up his back and Sanchez went for the choke, the crowd erupted.  This was one of the most appreciative crowds at San Manuel since KOTC’s debut here last year.  They could sense when a submission was close and were rooting for it.  Sanchez made a second attempt to get the choke, but to no avail.

In round three, they traded some shots against the cage before Sanchez shot for a double-leg takedown.  Lewis wisely pulled back and continued to ground-and-pound, but inadvertently got caught in another armbar.  He broke free and fired lefts and rights from side mount while Sanchez was on all fours.  Lewis continued the ground and pound to the end of the bell.

Judges awarded Joe Lewis the victory by split decision on scores of 29-28.  Sanchez likely won the second round, while Lewis took the first and third.

Bantamweight (135 lbs.) Jose “Berto” Morales (Subfighter) vs. Jon ”The Clone” Sasson (HB Ultimate Training Center / Team Rampage)

Sasson scored a big slam takedown early in round one, but Morales quickly regained control with lefts on the ground before standing up.  Sasson tried to pull guard just before the bell rang, but Morales simply dropped punches from inside the guard.  Morales opened up round two with a high kick and takedown, but they were stood up, where Sasson engaged more than previously.  Sasson ended up standing over Morales and going for an ankle lock from above, much to the fans’ amazement.  Morales briefly got Sasson in an armbar before the bell rang.  In the third chapter of the match, both men traded hard lefts and rights before Morales scored another takedown and ground-and-pounded away.  Morales would get two more takedowns, successfully throwing elbows inside Sasson’s closed guard without getting caught in a triangle choke.

Judges awarded the victory to Jose “Berto” Morales by unanimous decision.  Morales likely won rounds one and two.

Lightweight (155 lbs.) Evan “Mr. Nice Guy” Thompson (Team Execution) vs. Corey “Savage” Grant (Team Quest)

Grant had the Team Quest All-Stars out in full force, including Dan Henderson, Cyrille Diabate, and Krzysztof Soszynski.  He’s also being cornered by Henderson’s TUF assistant coach, Heath Sims, and Richie Hightower of this season’s TUF U.S. team.

Grant immediately engaged Thompson, leading to both men jockeying for position in the clinch all over the cage, literally going from post to post trying to score a takedown.  After a rapid exchange of combinations, Grant shot for a double-leg and took Thompson to the ground.  Thompson was able to push him off once, but Grant jumped back into his guard and continued with right punches.

Grant continued the takedown campaign in the second round, scoring three with no problem.  Thompson tried for a high guard, but Grant kept driving into him too much.  After the second takedown, as Grant stepped back, Thompson inadvertently landed a kick to the groin for a brief break in action.  Immediately thereafter, Grant landed his third takedown.  Thompson was trying for an uma plata as the round ended.

Grant opened the third round with a flying knee, then took the fight to the ground again.  Thompson worked for a triangle, to no avail.  Thompson was bleeding from the ear, but the match continued.  Thompson escaped from another takedown and worked some dirty boxing, but couldn’t keep the clinch.  Grant scored another takedown and fired rights from side mount before the round ended.

Judges award the victory to Corey Grant by unanimous decision.

After the match, Grant commented on his fan following: “You talk about being nervous. . . I found out about an hour before they got here.  So that’s when the nerves set in.  You want to perform [when] guys like that are at your gym. . . . I’m not a mushy guy when I see stars and stuff, but it made me feel pretty good when they showed up for this event.  It was great.”

Light Heavyweight (205 lbs.) Uber “Bulletproof” Gallegos (Training Zone / Joker’s Wild Fight Academy) vs. David Vessup (Brian Warren’s Unbreakable Gym)

Vessup’s last San Manuel appearance was a second round submission win at KOTC: Immortal in February.  Gallegos was looking to redeem himself from a February loss at KOTC: Hurricane in Florida.

Vessup threw knees and lefts before Gallegos forced the takedown in the corner and got side mount.  Vessup swept by walking the cage, throwing lefts and finally sitting back for a leglock.  But Gallegos stood up out of it and threw shots.  Vessup threw a flying knee and swung for the fences, but Gallegos muted the attack with a clinch against the cage, finally securing a single leg takedown.  Gallegos was in mount as the round ended.  Round two opened with Vessup charging in, but Gallegos again took him down in spectacular textbook fashion.  Vessup was busy from the bottom, working for a triangle while Gallegos punished him with lefts.  Gallegos eventually got full mount and threw punches without a problem, but little was getting through.  Going into round three, Vessup fired more combos, a high kick that popped the crowd, and another flying knee.  But Gallegos took him down again and threw knees from side mount.  Gallegos would score another takedown and ground-and-pound from the side mount to the bell.

Much to the fans’ chagrin, the judges awarded David Vessup the split decision, by scores of 29-28 for Vessup and one score of 30-27 for Gallegos.  The crowd was very disapprovingly vocal for this decision.

When asked his thoughts on the controversial decision, Gallegos felt he had the moral victory, which would be enough for him:  “I know who won.  Terry [Trebilcock] knows who won. . . Everybody was congratulating me.  Buying me drinks, because I won.  Saying I won.  I got paid like I won. . . It’s not his fault, so I’m not gonna blame him.  It’s the judging.  I just came out and did my best.”

Welterweight (170 lbs.) Mike “The Warrior” Robles (Millennium Jiu-Jitsu) vs. Rick “The I.E. Bad Boy” Legere (Team Wildman)

Legere, having turned around two losses in a row with a first round KO at KOTC: Storm one month prior, looked much more relaxed, while Robles looked like he was trying to make a lasting impression.  Robles was active with combinations.  At one point, Legere tagged him with a hard jab, but Robles blew it off.  To which Legere gave Robles a high-five.  Now that’s sportsmanship!  The two continued working for the opening, either circling around or clinching against the cage.  In round two, Robles continued to stick-and-move with combos, and Legere continued to high-five Robles’ attacks.  Legere has to be the most respectful MMA fighter this side of the Atlantic.  Legere finally took Robles down and threw lefts from side mount.  Robles scrambled to escape, but Legere ended the round with ground-and-pound from the back.  Round three saw Legere intercepting Robles as he circled around.  Finally, he knocked Robles down with a right straight, then lefts as Robles turned away.  The referee finally stopped the match at 2:12 of the third round, giving Rick Legere the win via TKO.

175 lbs. Catchweight Kasey “Ice Cold” Uscola (Team Alpha Male / Ultimate Fitness MMA Training Center) vs. Mike “Joker” Guymon (Joker’s Wild Fighting Academy)

Guymon is the KOTC welterweight champion, but after two title defense opponents fell through for this show, matchmaker Shingo Kashiwagi paired him with Uscola at a catchweight.  Uscola dropped 15 pounds in 30 hours for this match.  Joker, for his part, got sponsorship from Wienerschnitzel hot dogs.  No joke.

Uscola scored a hip toss takedown on Guymon early in round one, dropping elbows from side mount. After a referee stand-up, Guymon charged in with combinations, but Uscola kept him at bay with hard shots.  Uscola caught Guymon’s leg off a kick and pushed for another takedown, holding the champ on the ground to the end of the round.  Guymon came out swinging in round two.  Uscola landed a hard left, but to no effect.  Guymon nailed a wicked right body kick that likely broke Uscola’s rib, followed by elbows and hammerfists from side mount until the referee stopped the action at 1:12 of the second round due to TKO.  In trademark fashion, Guymon was emotionally overwhelmed, crying on his knees after the fight.

Junior Welterweight (160 lbs.) Alberto Crane (Legacy MMA / Santa Fe BJJ) vs. Tony “Lion Heart” Hervey (MASH Team)

Crane was originally scheduled to fight Thomas “Wildman” Denny at 170 lbs., but after that match fell through, matchmaker Kashiwagi paired Crane up with Hervey, who trains out of Detroit, MI with former KOTC Light Heavyweight champ James Lee.  Crane weighed in heavy, and decided to take the 20% pay penalty.

Crane charged Hervey and tried to pull guard, but Hervey kept his ground and KO’ed Crane from standing position until the ref stopped the round at the 0:12 mark.  Hervey, ever the crowd-pleaser, proceeded to war stance like “Street Fighter’s” E. Honda and hit about 5-6 breakdance windmill spins, his trademark move.

The post-fight proved to be as eventful as the match itself.  The crowd chanted “replay,” which never happened.  Crane was on the ground for about three minutes before being carried out on a stretcher.  In his post-fight interview, Tony Hervey called out Joe Boxer for his 160 lb. belt, as well as Angelo Sanchez for the 155 lb. belt.

“Angelo Sanchez is not a champ, and I’ll say it to his face.  I’ve already been sayin’ that . . . he thinks he is because he won by a fluke.  It took them 20 minutes before they could decide if it was a draw or a win. . . Since Valenzuela is the next in line, I don’t say no.  Anybody that wants to come, I will adhere to that,” declared Hervey after the show.

Promoter Terry Trebilcock announced that Tony Hervey will challenge Joe Boxer for the vacant KOTC lightweight (155 lb.) title at the next KOTC San Manuel event, “Superstars,” on August 13th.

In the Cheap Pop for the Night moment, Big Poppa Schnake announced that the Los Angeles Lakers had won Game three of the NBA Championship finals.  Of course, he got a good reaction for that.

Welterweight (170 lbs.) Chris “The Westside Strangler” Brennan (Next Generation / TRI Center MMA) vs. Quinn Mulhern (Santa Fe BJJ)

In this era of MMA, Brennan is one of the lesser-celebrated, but equally as deserving, “old school” fighters from the 90’s.  He’s a veteran of UFC, PRIDE, Shooto, and a former champion in Extreme Challenge and King of the Cage.  Mulhern is the KOTC #1 contender for the welterweight title, with an unblemished 7-0 record.

Brennan scored a takedown right from jump street.  But Mulhern had a significant size advantage and was able to sit up with Brennan holding his waist.  Mulhern pulled rubber guard.  Brennan at first was nonplussed, circling around and getting back into Mulhern’s guard, but Mulhern pulled rubber guard again, getting the veteran in a deep uma plata.  Brennan stayed with it and tried to spin around, but Mulhern blocked it and kept the uma until getting the tapout at 2:01 of the first round.

King of the Cage returns to San Manuel Casino on August 13th.

Dawna Gonzales contributed to this report.