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Legere claims KOTC gold; Joker, Kryptonite retain at “Distorted”

Posted in King of the Cage, Live Event Reports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 2, 2009 by jaytan716

With three high-profile, incredibly competitive title matches and several exciting finishes in the undercard matches, “KOTC: Distorted” proved to be very much on point.

The event, which took place at the San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino, also featured an all-star “Bully Beatdown” cast of fighters from the first and second season, such as Rick Legere, Ben Lagman, Quinn Mulhern, Nick Gaston, and KOTC double champion Tony “Kryptonite” Lopez, whose episode, ironically enough, premiered that very same night.

“The title fights – the main event, were exactly what we wanted.  Exactly what we expected.  Both rematches, for the title fight – one got to redeem himself. . . Rick Legere came out victorious.  It was a great night of fights,” beamed matchmaker Shingo Kashiwagi.

“Especially here at San Manuel Casino, we like to make it a big show, so we do real big main events.  Big names. . . And then we try to stick with the younger, up-and-coming guys.  It’s good exposure for the hungry guys who have wanted to fight for us,” he explained.

Equally as noteworthy was the return of Mike “The Joker” Guymon, in his first title defense since his highly-publicized suicide attempt almost two months back.  Joker, who defended against fast-rising Jiu-Jitsu star Quinn Mulhern, was hospitalized for observation in August after an incident in which the reigning champion tried to coax police officers into shooting him.

“I’m really proud of that fight, moreso than any of the other ones that I’ve done.  Just because of all the adversities that I went through.  Seven weeks prior to that. . . I wanted to end everything.  The world was too hard for me, and I was too stressed out.  And it made [me] mentally tougher.  All the therapy and all the stuff I’ve gone through . . .” Joker reflected.

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

Heavyweight (265 lbs.) – Mike “Rhino” Bourke (Mollenkramer Fight Academy / C-Quence Jiu-Jitsu) vs. Liron “The Icon” Wilson (Millennia)

Despite towering height difference in Wilson’s favor, Bourke outweighed his opponent by 36 pounds.  This was Bourke’s first KOTC appearance since May 2008, a Super Heavyweight title fight against Chance “King of the Streets” Williams, which itself ended in a no contest after Bourke could not continue after taking strikes to the back of the head.

Wilson threw jabs and an array of kicks, while Bourke, feeling his opponent out, did not engage for the first 30 seconds.  Bourke finally tied up, but fell to the ground, pulling Wilson into half guard.  Wilson threw some body shots and worked a keylock.  Bourke was initially composed, but finally tapped out at 2:12 of the first round.

Middleweight (185 lbs.) – Uber “Bulletproof” Gallegos (Training Zone) vs. Ben “Bad News” Lagman (MASH Fight Team / Martial Arts Unlimited)

Both men actively engaged from the get-go.  Gallegos shot for a single, but left his head hanging.  Lagman was quick to sink in a guillotine choke, bringing it to the ground.  Seconds later, Gallegos tapped out, giving Lagman the win at 0:28 of the first round.

Even Lagman was surprised at his brief work shift, noting “I was in condition to go the whole time.  I thought it was gonna go a lot longer.  [Uber’s] fights usually go for awhile. . . He gave me the neck, so I took it.”

The night featured several Detroit imports representing Team MASH, including teammate Brandon Hunt.  On being the outsider, Lagman commented “we get excited to come out here and get these opportunities.  There’s no show in Michigan like this.  Terry’s cool enough to fly us out across the damn country to come . . . we come out here, we come to fight.”

Middleweight (185 lbs.) – Brandon Hunt (MASH Fight Team) vs. Joe Crilly (United Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu)

Crilly brought Lake Elsinore out with him, as he received one of the bigger crowd pops of the night.  Flying in from Detroit, MI, Hunt was the outsider, and as a former KOTC middleweight champion, he was working on climbing back up the ladder to a title shot.  The winner of this match would become the new #1 contender for Brad Burrick’s KOTC middleweight championship.

Crilly & Hunt clearly came to drop bombs, as both men fired hard jabs early.  Crilly attacked with a flurry which Hunt muted by clinching him against the cage and changing levels for a double-leg takedown that Crilly shoved off with confidence.  At one point, Crilly had Hunt on all fours and was looking for the KO shot, but couldn’t draw a bead on it before Hunt rolled away and escaped.  Once on his feet, Hunt dropped Crilly with a stiff headshot, but Crilly was able to recover.  Hunt circled the cage, as Crilly patiently followed, throwing combos to Hunt’s head.  Crilly looked in control and landed more, but Hunt likely scored with that knockdown.

Crilly continued to stalk Hunt in round two, coming in straight with combos to the head.  It went to the ground, where Crilly proceeded to pound on Hunt’s head, but failed to capitalize on being in control.  Hunt pushed in with a flurry, but to no avail.  As Crilly pushed straight in with headshots, Hunt clichéd up and tried to drop levels for a takedown, but Crilly caught him.  As they broke apart, Hunt tagged Crilly with a sharp combo to the head.  Hunt threw a high kick as the round ended.  Crilly had Hunt on the ground briefly, but Hunt looked better in the ensuing aftermath.

Early in the third round, Crilly walked into a jab and went down.  To his credit, he rallied to stay in the game, escaping to his feet and bouncing off the cage, but Hunt caught him again with a jab and right straight, the latter of which dropped Crilly for good.  Hunt kept going until referee Herb Dean pulled him away.  Hunt was awarded the KO victory at 0:24 of the third round.

Crilly’s reputation as a balls-to-the-wall juggernaut brawler, did not escape Hunt, who said “I was aware of it. . . I let him get off first a little bit, but I knew that if I just stayed there like that all night, he was gonna win.  Just had to use my speed and my power and my angles and just defeat him.  But I did know about the reputation.”

After the event, matchmaker Kashiwagi noted how strong both men fought, saying “he looked like the best ever.  Joe came in there, he showed some tremendous heart.  He was never gonna back down until he gets knocked out.  That’s his fighting style, and I respect the heck out of him.”

Hunt will next challenge fellow statesman Brad Burrick for his KOTC middleweight title.

Heavyweight (265 lbs.) – Nick “Afrozilla” Gaston (8 + 8 Striking Systems) vs. Boban Simic (Flo MMA.com)

Gaston vs. Simic was a battle of young out-of-towners, as Gaston comes from Columbus, OH, while Simic is a former heavyweight champion in the Chicago-based XFO.  It’s also the scrap of the scalps, as Gaston (aka “Gorillas in the Mist”) sports an afro that would make Angela Davis jealous.  Simic is tied up in cornrows that would make Allan Iverson jealous.

Like the Bourke-Wilson fight, the extreme size and shape difference was the story to this match.  Gaston, who is 6’4”, towered over the 5’10” Simic.  That said, Simic kept the pressure on Gaston throughout the match.  Gaston opened with a left kick before they clinched up and jockeyed against the cage for position.  Gaston fired a few Muay Thai knees, which, given the size difference between them, risked landing in the groin, which would have caused a foul against him.  They traded leather furiously, and Gaston kept using the knees, but Simic no-sold any damage they might have done.  As the round ended, Gaston attempted a hip toss, but Simic kept his balance and let Gaston hit the ground first before falling into top position.

Simic set round two off by charging from afar twice; the second time, Gaston dropped him with a front kick, and followed up with a flying knee.  Gaston trapped Simic with a modified overhook whizzer clinch and was able to fire off some lefts before Simic muted the shots with a clinch.  Gaston slipped in an elbow, which may have cut Simic open.

Simic was swinging more wildly in the third round, Gaston caught him and spun him into the cage the first time, but upon second attack, Gaston tagged him with the flying knee.  None of this stopped Simic from continuing the assault.  Gaston’s bread and butter was the whizzer, but he didn’t pound much with the free hand.  Gaston landed another vocal front kick and low kick before the match ended.

Judges awarded Gaston the win by unanimous decision with scores of 30-27

In his post-fight interview, Gaston commended Simic, who he knew was going to be no easy test: “He took the fight on two weeks’ notice.  He’s a bad motherfucker, man.  He got my eye swollen up a little bit. . . If you watch the fight, the first round, I almost had him gone. . . I was like ‘ooo, I’ma knock him out.’  He’s so fuckin’ tough, I couldn’t take him out.  Every round, I was hittin’ him, hittin’ him.  Elbows, knees.  And he wouldn’t drop,” said the self-proclaimed “Big Floppy Donkey Dick.”

KOTC Junior Welterweight (160 lbs.) Championship – Waachiim “The Native Warrior” Spiritwolf (Spiritwolf MMA) vs. Rick “The I.E. Bad Boy” Legere (Team Wildman)

This was a rematch from their December 2008 meeting, when Spiritwolf KO’ed Legere early in the second round, ending the I.E. Bad Boy’s unblemished six–fight win streak.  With Victor “Joe Boxer” Valenzuela recently deciding to drop down to 145 lbs., Legere and Spiritwolf were the perfect match to fill the championship slot.   Spiritwolf is a WFC and Cage of Fire welterweight champion.

Legere took the center of the ring while Spiritwolf circled the perimeter, landing a hard low kick.  Legere looked like he might have been playing mind games, as he unconventionally threw no more than three or four jabs in the air in the first 30 seconds, when the fans started to get rowdy.  Spiritwolf charged in with a jab, but Legere deftly tripped him up, sending Spiritwolf sliding to the ground across the cage.  Back to circling again, fans were really starting to get restless here.  Finally, Spiritwolf charged Legere, who fell to the ground, but trapped a leg and worked to set up a heel hook.  Eventually, he took Spiritwolf’s back standing, but couldn’t capitalize before breaking apart.  Both men looked to be loading up, but neither pulled the trigger on their strikes.  Spiritwolf tried shooting in again from afar, but Legere sidestepped him with matador-like grace, and then clinched Spiritwolf up against the cage for a few body shots before the round ended.

Round two saw a bit more engaging.  Legere took Spiritwolf to the ground and pounded on him, blocking his escape attempts with a full-nelson, of all things.  He worked for a rear naked choke from the back, but it was continued ground-and-pound that caused referee Herb Dean to stop the match at 2:25 of the second round.

Rick Legere wins by TKO at 2:25 of R2, making him the new KOTC Junior Welterweight champion.

KOTC Welterweight (170 lbs.) Championship – Quinn Mulhern (Santa Fe BJJ) vs. Mike “The Joker” Guymon (Joker’s Wild Fighting Academy)

This was Guymon’s second title defense after capturing the belt from Anthony “The Recipe” Lapsley in December of 2008.  Mulhern was coming off a first round submission upset over MMA pioneer and Jiu-Jitsu black belt Chris “The Westside Strangler” Brennan.

The story of this match was Joker’s superior wrestling as the advantage in keeping top position, while Mulhern used everything in his jiu-jitsu arsenal to escape, transition, or catch the champ in a compromising position.  However, Joker kept the pressure on Mulhern with body shots, hooks, and elbows from above.  Within seconds of the round one bell, Mulhern shot in for a single-leg, clinching Joker against the cage. But Joker switched positions and tripped Mulhern to the ground, where most of the match took place.  Mulhern did get to his feet, but Joker swept the leg and took it to the ground again just as the round ended.  Mulhern tried to keep it standing in the second, circling on the outside and throwing combos to the face, but Joker pushed in, clinched, and returned the fight to the ground.  Round three’s intro saw the two trade headshots before Mulhern threw several kicks to set up for a double-leg takedown attempt.  Joker stuffed the shot and spun around to get back control, but Mulhern rolled through to end up with joker in his guard.  Mulhern went for an armbar, but to no avail, and then was on his feet again before Joker took him down again.  Early in the fourth round, Joker caught Mulhern’s leg off a high kick and threw him to the ground with authority.  Another takedown later, Joker had Mulhern on the ground and continued with hard rights to the body.  Finally, Joker got full mount, then, receiving Mulhern’s back, pounded away until Mulhern tapped out at 4:32 due to strikes.

“I’ve been really open about everything, because my whole life, I’ve been an open book. . . And I just thank everybody that supported me. . . Fighters, friends, family.  Even people that were in my weight class, that are contending, were like ‘hey, man, talk to me.  Here’s my number.’  I’ve been talking to Rick Legere, Spiritwolf.  Just all those guys.  I can’t say enough about everybody in general. . . Jim Amormino and my wife were there.  Those two, if it wasn’t for her and Jim, I wouldn’t be here, man. . . Zach Smith.  He’s a personal friend of mine, and just he hated seeing me go through such a bad thing, and he just wanted to be there for me. . . He’s passionate about his beliefs and his friends and I love him to death.”

“The match itself – I went in and I played my game plan like I wanted to. . . First of all, I didn’t think he was gonna shoot in on me right off the bat.  I thought he was gonna try and stand. . . I was intending to dirty box him up against the fence, and he actually played into my game, where I felt his shot, I got him in clinch, and then I just started wearing him out up against the fence. . .”

Of Joker and Mulhern’s performances, Kashiwagi reflected “Quinn did phenomenal.   Joker was on top throughout the whole fight, but that’s how jiu-jitsu guys are. . . First two rounds, even though Joker was on top the whole time, from my point of view, it was a chess match.  Because a simple mistake. . A little bit of space that Joker gives, Quinn was getting ready.”

“Everything’s all clicking now, and I just can’t believe that I went from seven weeks ago, wanting to not be here anymore, to just absolutely wanting to hug life.  It’s been an interesting ride,” said Joker.  “I just thank everybody that supported me. . . Fighters, friends, family.  Even people that were in my weight class, that are contending, were like ‘hey, man, talk to me.  Here’s my number.’  I’ve been talking to Rick Legere, Spiritwolf. . . Jim Amormino and my wife were there.  Those two, if it wasn’t for her and Jim, I wouldn’t be here, man. . . Zach Smith.  He’s a personal friend of mine, and just he hated seeing me go through such a bad thing. . . He’s passionate about his beliefs and his friends and I love him to death.”

KOTC Heavyweight (265 lbs.) Championship – Joey “The Mexicutioner” Beltran (Alliance MMA) vs. Tony “Kryptonite” Lopez (Team Oyama)

This was the second of two rematches from 2008.  In their previous outing, Lopez successfully defended his heavyweight crown against Beltran with a highlight reel kimura armlock that many thought would end Beltran’s career.  However, the Mexicutioner was back in the cage less than five months later, and rode a five-match win streak into this match, including a regional heavyweight title win in Oklahoma.

Beltran engaged from the onset, and Lopez was quick to mute the attack with overhooks.  They jockeyed for position, with Beltran throwing headshots on occasion.  Lopez remained composed, forcing his own switch and putting Beltran against the cage.  The crowd was surprisingly quiet for this start, aside from the occasional call for action and “fuck him up.”  Beltran dropped Lopez and tried to follow up, but Lopez escaped to his feet.  Beltran caught a leg from one of Lopez’ high kicks, but couldn’t trip him down.  It was here where Lopez started to employ his signature kicks and Muay Thai clinch and knees, which apparently woke the fans up.  Beltran replied with wilder shots to the body and head, and even went forward with a Muay Thai clinch of his own.  Lopez had a bad habit of turning away when breaking apart, which gave Beltran a blinded moment to chase and push him against the fence.  Beltran found his second wind just before the round ended.

Beltran continued with the wild style striking in round two.  They traded clinch positions against the cage, then kicks for headshots, respectively, for several minutes.  Every time Lopez came close to a Muay Thai clinch, Beltran woke up and retaliated with wild headshots.  Lopez was busted open from either the mouth or nose.  Beltran got Lopez to the ground briefly in the third round, but Lopez immediately got up almost as fast.  The battle for position and dirty boxing went on for the rest of the third and fourth round, as both men slipped knees and punches to the legs and body until referee Herb Dean finally broke them apart.  Beltran turned up the pressure with furious lefts and rights on Lopez, who grabbed his left leg and scooped Beltran to the floor.  Lopez got Beltran’s back and sat back for a rear naked choke, but Beltran fought to side control.  After another stand-up, Beltran was noticeably opened over the left eye or side of his cheek.  This round likely went to Lopez for ground punishment.  The final round saw Lopez switch up and try to take Beltran down several times, but the challenger stayed on his feet and circled away from the cage.  Both men were pounding on each other from the collar-and-arm tie-up.  Lopez’ long limbs allowed him to whizzer Beltran, but Beltran got the better of the situation, tagging Lopez in the face several times.  Lopez tried for another takedown, to no avail.  Whenever there was a break in the action, Beltran dug deep and came up with a barrage of shots to the head, to which Lopez would turn away and defend with side and back kicks.

Lopez was awarded the win by unanimous decision (scores unannounced), which the crowd vociferously booed.  It appeared like they saw Beltran as the underdog who gave it his all, and Lopez, as champion, doing enough to win the fight.  Each round was very close, which made the final verdict contestable among fans.

King of the Cage returns to the San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino on December 17th, 2009, for its final show of the year.

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Fighters’ Weights on Point for KOTC: Distorted

Posted in King of the Cage, Live Event Reports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2009 by jaytan716
King of the Cage: Distorted takes place on October 1st, at the San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino in Highland, CA.

King of the Cage: Distorted takes place on October 1st, at the San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino in Highland, CA.

All 14 fighters weighed in and were cleared to fight this evening at the San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino, in anticipation for “King of the Cage: Distorted,” which takes place on Thursday, October 1st and features three KOTC title fights.

Only two fighters, Waachiim Spiritwolf and Uber Gallegos, did not make weight on their first attempts.  Spiritwolf, who challenges Rick “The I.E. Bad Boy” Legere for the vacant KOTC junior welterweight (160 lbs.) title, had to make the designated weight, since the bout was a title fight, according to California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) rules.  He was given two hours to weigh in again, and came back at 159.2 lbs.

The vacant junior welterweight title was last held by Victor “Joe Boxer” Valenzuela, who recently relinquished the belt to shift down to the bantamweight (145 lbs) division.  Valenzuela had defended the 160 lb. belt twice this year.

Gallegos weighed in at 187.4, almost 2.5 lbs. over the 185 lb. limit.  However, Gallegos’ opponent, Ben “Bad News” Lagman (Team MASH), opted to take the fight at an adjusted 190 lb. catchweight, accepting Gallegos’ initial weigh-in.

In the main event, KOTC double champion Tony “Kryptonite” Lopez (Team Oyama) defends the heavyweight title against Joey “The Mexicutioner” Beltran, in a rematch from their May 2008 clash over the Lopez’ light heavyweight title.  In their original meeting, Lopez caught Beltran with a highlight reel standing kimura armbar, which many people thought would be the end of The Mexicutioner’s fight career.  Instead, Beltran recovered and has since built up a five-match win streak, most recently training with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Brandon Vera’s Alliance MMA team.  In a recent interview last week on the King of the Cage Network (http://www.ustream.tv/channel/king-of-the-cage-channel), Beltran discussed the war of words between he and Lopez, which developed after their match, and Beltran’s own burning desire for revenge.

“I’ve been on a samurai mission to get back to that fight,” said Beltran.

In addition to the heavyweight and junior welterweight titles, KOTC welterweight champion Mike “Joker” Guymon (Joker’s Wild Fighting Academy) puts his gold on the line against Quinn Mulhern (Santa Fe BJJ), a jiu-jitsu specialist with an unblemished 8-0 record.  In his last appearance, Mulhern shocked fans by beating MMA pioneer Chris “The Westside Strangler” Brennan with a first round omoplata submission.  Guymon is coming off his last title defense, a second-round submission win against Kyacey Uscola, at that same show.

Also on the card is Lake Elsinore’s favorite son, Joe Crilly, facing his toughest test to date, former KOTC middleweight champion Brandon Hunt, and Mike “Rhino” Bourke, who takes on newcomer Liron Wilson.

Final weigh-in results are as follows:

Joey Beltran – 237 lbs.

Tony “Kryptonite” Lopez – 217 lbs.

Quinn Mulhern – 169.6 lbs.

Mike “Joker” Guymon – 169.2 lbs.

Waachiim Spiritwolf – 159.2 lbs. (second attempt)

Rick “The IE Bad Boy” Legere – 159.2 lbs.

Nick Gaston – 260.8 lbs.

Boban Simic – 237.8 lbs.

Brandon Hunt – 181.8 lbs.

Joe Crilly – 181.2 lbs.

Uber Gallegos – 187.4 (match weight was adjusted to 190 lb. catchweight)

Ben “Bad News” Lagman – 181.6 lbs.

Mike “Rhino” Bourke – 264 lbs.

Liron Wilson – 229 lbs.

“King of the Cage: Distorted” takes place on October 1st at the San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino in Highland, CA.  Tickets are still available at the box office, by phone at (888) 777-7404, or at www.Ticketmaster.com.  Doors open at 6:30 and the show begins at 7:30pm.

Balboa wins Pro Muay Thai Debut

Posted in Legends MMA, Live Event Reports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 21, 2009 by jaytan716
'Yo Adrian!' - Balboa triumphs in her pro debut.

'Yo Adrian!' - Balboa triumphs in her pro debut.

Seven years ago, Roxy Richardson could barely do a push-up.  Fighting was the last thing on her mind. But this past weekend, the reinvented Legends fighter Roxy “Balboa” realized a milestone that was long in the making, emerging victorious in her pro Muay Thai debut.  Based on scores of 49-46, 50-45, and 49-46, Richardson beat Sarah McCarthy (Bad Company, Leeds, UK) via unanimous decision at the 2009 Ultimate Warriors Muay Thai-Kickboxing World Championship, held at the Anaheim Convention Center.

“It feels great.  The nerves were there, but mentally, I was strong. . . It’s been a long road.  This’ll be my 13th sanctioned fight, my 20th or 21st fight total, including smokers,” Richardson reflected later that night.

“To be honest with you, there wasn’t a round that I was concerned about at all. . . She didn’t get winded, she wasn’t breathing heavy in the corners. . . She just let her hands go. . . Other than that, I was very, very impressed with her and very, very proud of her,” said Legends MMA team trainer Jimmie Romero after the match.

Richardson, a staple in the regional Muay Thai scene, was the International Amateur Muay Thai Federation (IAMTF) champion from 2008 and 2009.

“I was terrified of fighting, when I first started.  Honestly, someone would ask me if I wanted to fight two months from now and I would get this horrible pain in the pit of my stomach, and just want to throw up.  And now I am excited and I look forward to it.  I think of it as a test of everything that I worked really hard for all the time.  it was never like that in the beginning.  I wasn’t a natural fighter, but I saw it as a challenge and it made me want to do better each time.”

Ironically enough, it was only recently that Richardson, whose connection with Legends MMA dates back to its days at the Bomb Squad, started working with Legends trainer Jimmie Romero.

Jimmie Romero spearheaded the "Reinvention of Roxy," leading to the night's victory.

Jimmie Romero spearheaded the "Reinvention of Roxy," leading to the night's victory.

“When she came to me, last fight, I think I had her, like five weeks out within her fight. . . I just worked with what she had, and tweeked a little here and there, until I could get her after,” commented Romero.

But once they were past that match, the team went back to basics: “we broke her down, and built her right back up. . . I changed everything, and made it make sense with her footwork.  I made it sync up to where every punch counts. . . Where it’s not just random shit being thrown. . . It flows, like water,” he added.

Of the partnership, Richardson was enthusiastic about going back to the drawing board: “this is the second time I’ve been working with [Romero], and we make a real good team.  I’m learning some new things.  It’s tough, because I’ve been fighting for awhile and he’s got to make adjustments for me, and that’s always been difficult.  But I’ve trusted him and he’s brought me in a good direction.  The results speak for themselves.  I’m pretty happy with that, and I’m happy with how this training went.”

The story of the match itself largely spoke to the changes and improvements in Richardson’s arsenal and team, as Richardson consistently circled out of McCarthy’s charging line-of-fire, countering with jabs, right straights, steady combinations , and body kicks.  McCarthy, who is known for controlling her matches by imposing her will, fought a chasing game, throwing low kicks to make contact.

“We used that jab to utilize space, because Roxy is a lot longer. . . And that’s why Roxy circled a lot, and she moved.  Sarah likes to press and close in you, and make you feel claustrophobic.  And the thing that stops that is ‘hey, you’ve got to follow me’.  . . And while she’s eating punches at the same time,” explained Romero.

135 lbs. / Full Muay Thai Rules – Roxy Balboa Richardson (Roxy Fit) vs. Sarah McCarthy (Bad Company)

The first round saw McCarthy utilize low kicks to breach the distance, while Richardson answered back with a body kick and a Superwoman punch.  Richardson looked comfortable with her hands, landing a lot of punches to the face, especially at round’s end.

In round two, McCarthy kept with the combos and low kicks, while Richardson circled out and brought the action to the middle of the ring.  Richardson fired a triple jab, checked a kick, and volleyed one back.  She swung a kick and tried some elbows in the corner, but it was an overhand right that nailed McCarthy square in the face.

By the third round, McCarthy’s charge-and-attack M.O. was clear and constant.  She pushed Richardson towards her corner, but Richardson clinched up and tried throwing elbows.  McCarthy got in some jabs and an overhand right, but Richardson was on fire, ending the round with a flurry of punches standing and from the clinch.

Richardson lands a left body kick.

Richardson lands a left body kick.

Perhaps sensing the need to turn on the steam, McCarthy quickly started round four in the middle of the ring, pushing Richardson into the corner.  But Richardson circled her way out, firing an overhand right and body kick.  McCarthy swiftly replied with her own attack.  Clinching against the ropes, McCarthy tried for a trip, but couldn’t make it happen before the referee called for a clean break.  Richardson landed another stiff combo to the face and attempted a spinning back elbow to end the round.

The fifth round opened with a brief clinch early on, but the two quickly broke apart, with McCarthy going after Richardson, who landed several kicks.  McCarthy overextended on a punch, but Richardson didn’t capitalize.  She did, however, land several body shots.  The referee stopped the action to check McCarthy for blood, but the doctor allowed the match to continue.  By this point, the once intensely-silent crowd was vocally cheering both fighters.  With ten seconds left, Richardson went into overdrive and shot jabs and combos to end the match.

In the end, judges awarded the match to Roxy “Balboa” Richardson by unanimous decision with scores of 49-46, 50-49, and 49-46.

When asked her thoughts on the fight, Richardson said “I always have it in my mind that if I give two good rounds, then at least [it’s] a good show, but I felt I was on from the very first round.  Which is unusual because I’m normally kind of a slow starter.  So I was really happy that I was able to throw multiple things.  And I felt like my timing was a lot better than I have been.  I could hear both corners, which was cool.  I actually would hear her corner, and then wait for her to do what her corner said . . .I’ve never been that clear before.”

Teammate Jordan Wright added “I really think she looked amazing . . . she was popping her jabs, rather than pushing. . .and her footwork was great too.”

Romero added “her next fight will be even better.  We gave her a whole new set of tools to work with.  And changed the arsenal up a little bit.  And now that she’s actually used it in battle, she’s now more confident, like ‘yeah, I can use these new tools, and they work damn well.’”

Other Muay Thai action that night went as follows:

112 lbs. – Janet Coakley (Budo Ryu) TKO Victoria “The Prodigy” Beltran (Boxing Zone) in R2, 0:53.

135 lbs. – Rubin Ekyotin (World Muay Thai Gym) TKO Hien Nguyen (Pacific Ring Sport) in R2, 0:16.

155 lbs. – Yilen Pan (Sit Rama Soon Muay Thai) TKO Caesar Pimentel  (Guizar Martial Arts) in R1, 1:50.

160 lbs. – Edgar Islas (Team Oyama) def. Greg “The Leg” Spellman (Millennia MMA) in R1, 1:16 via referee stoppage (after two knockdowns).

155 lbs. – Olavi Naar (Muay Thai School USA) KO Daniel Eyi (Dobler’s Muay Thai) in R1, approximately 1:00.

175 lbs. – Steve Kuo (The Yard Muay Thai) def. Michael Ellison (Boxing Work) via unanimous decision off scores of 29-28, 28-29, and 29-28.

170 lbs. – Laban Spicer (Sit Yod Tong Pasadena) def. Sean Delfossey (Budo Ryu) via unanimous decision off scores of 29-28, 29-28, and 29-28.

150 lbs. – Sheldon Gain (MTA) def. Patrick Channita (Team Oyama) via unanimous decision off scores 29-27, 29-27, and 29-27.

145 lbs. – Sean Ueda (Pro AM) TKO Hector Ekyotin (World Muay Thai Gym) in R3, 1:32.

130 lbs. – Jessie Magusen (Dobler’s Muay Thai) def. Felipe Andalla (KR Muay Thai) via unanimous decision off scores of 30-27, 30-27, and 30-27.

155 lbs. – Cooper Gibson (Team Toby Grear) TKO Andrew Santee Santhivong (MTA) in R2, 1:20.

185 lbs. – Jason Rezepka (KR Muay Thai) def. Salah Azzazi (Red Scorpion Martial Arts) via unanimous decision off scores of 30-26, 30-26, and 30-26.  This match was for the UKKA Light Heavyweight championship.

155 lbs. (Full Pro Muay Thai rules) – Ryan Roy (Fairtex) TKO Koji Iijima (KR Muay Thai) after the referee stopped the match in the fourth round, due to numerous knockdowns.

135 lbs. – Tetsuya Yamato (Yamato Kickboxing) KO Kaensak Sor Pleonjit in R5, 2:59.  This match was for the WMC Muay Thai Lightweight championship.

Richardson was cornered by Romero and Victor Henry, and sponsored for this fight by Revgear, Toe 2 Toe, Ed Hardy Watches, and United Front Productions.

McGray wins in decisive black and white fashion at ‘Tuff Girls’

Posted in Legends MMA, Live Event Reports, Tuff-N-Uff with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 13, 2009 by jaytan716
Kate McGray won her MMA debut by unanimous decision.

Kate McGray won her MMA debut by unanimous decision.

Legends MMA / Roxyfit’s Kate McGray’s first foray into mixed martial arts was a success, as she defeated Gabriella Lakoczky (Xtreme Couture) on Friday, July 10th, at Tuff-N-Uff’s latest amateur MMA event, “Tuff Girls.”

“She stuck to the game plan, and every time, after the first round, she put [her combinations] together better . . . She listened to her corner. She executed it, and I’m very, very proud of her. Especially for her first MMA fight. Very proud of her,” commented trainer Jimmie Romero.

Prior to this, McGray spent the past three years in the world of Muay Thai, having first trained in 2006 and going 1-1 in North American amateur competition in that time. In 2008, she also attended a six-week training camp in Thailand, going on to win a full rules five-round match against a local fighter.

“I felt good coming out of it. I was happy . . . This one’s big. The one in Thailand was big. This one was big,” McGray said about her win.

With an estimated attendance of approximately 3,000 fans, the event was the second Tuff-N-Uff held in the larger Orleans Arena.

Lakoczky proved to be the aggressor early in the first round, pushing McGray backwards with jabs and front kicks. Trying to measure up her opponent, McGray backstepped and threw two-punch combos and several low kicks. McGray grabbed Lakoczky in a Muay Thai clinch and landed several knees, to which Lakoczky replied with body shots. Breaking apart, McGray found her stride, chasing after Lakoczky with single jabs and combinations for the rest of the round.

“When I got her in the clinch and I got some knee strikes and saw that she was winded, it really helped with my confidence. . . We broke the clinch . . . and she took a couple steps where she was slumped and tired. I was like ‘Awesome! That did exactly what it was supposed to do,’” McGray reflected.

McGray's jab proved to be key in maintaining ring generalship.

McGray's jab proved to be key in maintaining ring generalship.

The stand-up trade would prove to be the theme of the rest of the fight, as McGray pushed the action with boxing combinations, while Lakoczky circled, looking for an opening that wasn’t appearing. Lakoczky came close to finishing, tripping McGray to the ground off a body kick and then sinking in a guillotine choke from the top. McGray kept her composure, however, eventually pushing Lakoczky away and escaping to her feet.

McGray remembered “I knew [getting to the ground] could happen, and I was ready for it, but once I got down there, it was just kinda like ‘oh wait, this is part of the fight too?’ I knew what I need to do, but then, actually doing it in the fight situation is different than training it and drilling it in practice. . .I was nervous at first, because her arm was pretty close to my neck, but she wasn’t really getting it in there all the way. I felt like if I just kept my chin tucked and worked out of it, then I wasn’t in too much danger.”

Romero noted “that’s what we worked at. [Assistant wrestling coach and Legends MMA fighter] Keenan Lewis worked with her on her wrestling. That was the whole plan. When you see that space, get out. Take it back up. And she did that.”

The Terminator chase continued into the third frame, as McGray hunted after Lakoczky with boxing combinations. Lakoczky tried to retaliate with body kicks. At one point, McGray had Lakoczky’s right arm trapped and briefly came close to securing a standing guillotine. Lakoczky landed an uppercut, while McGray returned the favor with low kicks.

In the end, all three judges award the match to Kate McGray.

McGray (left), celebrating with Victor Henry, Lauren Schuchman, and Jimmie Romero

McGray (left), celebrating with Victor Henry, Lauren Schuchman, and Jimmie Romero

Of her own performance, McGray was very satisfied, commenting “I feel like I executed more. And I’ve never executed before. And that was really exciting. Especially with all the new things coming into play. With the little MMA gloves, the fans, and all that. So it’s just really exciting.”

The night marked another impressive milestone, as “Tuff Girls” became the first-ever all-women MMA show to be held in Las Vegas. The results of the other matches were as follows:

135 lbs. – Tamara Riley (Team Asylum) defeated Michelle Velebit (Team Girls) by unanimous decision.

145 lbs. – Autumn Richardson (Team Quest) defeated Holly Dixon (Freestyle MMA) by TKO at 0:44 of round three.

170 lbs. – Latoya Walker (Team XFC) and Brooke Guidry (Xtreme Couture) fought to a no contest after the doctor stopped the match after round one, due to a cut over Walker’s eye.

135 lbs. – Paige Zio (Gracie Fighter) defeated Kiley Martin (Team Girls) by TKO in round two after Martin’s team chooses not to continue due to a bloody nose.

140 lbs. – Stephanie Webber (Victory Athletics) defeated Robin Hartman (Team Pedro Sauer) by submission (armbar) at 0:35 of round two.

135 lbs. – Amanda Lavoy (American Karate & Kickboxing Academy) defeated Maeisha Lowe (Morse Jiu-Jitsu) by split decision.

155 lbs. – Amanda Wilcoxen (Morgan’s MMA) defeated Courtney Stowe (10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu) by unanimous decision.

125 lbs. – Ivana Coleman (Gladiator Academy) defeated Lauren Feldman (FFADC) by split decision. Many spoke of Coleman vs. Feldman as Match of the Night.

145 lbs. – In the main event, Moa Palmer (Team Oyama) defeated Patricia Vandermeer (Buckley MMA) by TKO at 1:42 of round one. McGray was sponsored by Toe 2 Toe, RevGear, and RoxyFit.

Legends returns to Sin City next month with six fighters scheduled for matches – Chris Brady, Victor Henry, Eddie Jackson, Alan Jouban (making his Tuff-N-Uff debut), Takashi Munoz, and Christian Palencia. This show takes place on August 22nd at the Orleans. Tickets go on sale soon via TuffNUff.net and the Coast Casinos website.

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.