Archive for Rick Legere

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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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.