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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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

Other KOTC action that night included:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Verbal Sparring: Tony Lopez (King of the Cage Double Champion)

Posted in Interviews, King of the Cage with tags , , , , on October 31, 2008 by jaytan716

JT:  You’ve had quite a year.  You won the KOTC Heavyweight title in July in Wisconsin, and now the Light Heavyweight title three months later.  How does it feel to be a double champion?

TL:  It’s kinda weird, because I don’t feel it until I talk to people.  Or when they find out I got the [Light Heavyweight title], they’re like “you got two belts?”  So then I have to tell everybody about the fight and I start feeling it the more I say it – “I got two belts.”  And it feels good.  Every time I say something or talk about it, it starts kicking in more and more.  But it’s a good feeling.

JT:  You join a very select group.  You and Dan Henderson are the only people to win two titles in larger, more recognized organizations?  It says something about you and King of the Cage.

TL:  Yeah, it’s awesome.  I was hoping Terry would give me this opportunity, to try and get both, and I’m just so grateful that he did.  So now it’s time to show my face by giving better shows and upping my performance.  [To] go out there and make it more brutal and bang hard.

JT:  More brutal than your match with Joey Beltran?

TL:  A lot more!  Because it was good way to finish it, but there wasn’t enough action before that.  I was disappointed in that.  Not enough exchanges of blows and blood.  I want more of that.

JT:  Do you feel added pressure to perform as a fighter?

TL:  I’ve always put the same pressure on myself, whether I have a belt or not.  I gotta go out there and bang.  Now that I have the belt, I want to put on matches that reflect the prestige [the belt] deserves.  I gotta make my wins a lot cleaner and smoother.  I’ve got to make it look effortless.  I gotta show what a champ’s all about.  A double champ!

JT:  How will making weight for two different weight classes affect your training & diet?  Will you monitor your walk around weight differently?

TL:  My normal weight is about 214 lbs.  That’s normal for a light heavyweight because you normally drop about ten pounds or so [prior to weigh-ins].  I drop weight to 205; its nothing.  Now for a heavyweight, I just do what I normally do, weigh in at 214, and take care of business [laughs].

JT:  Would you bulk up if you faced guys closer to the super heavyweight range?

TL:  No, because normally, the guys that I fight are anywhere from 240 to 265.  I always weigh the same.  I think it’s going to make it easier for me when I go down to 205 because I’m used to bigger guys with 30-40 pounds on me.

JT:  Which weight class do you think is going to give you a tougher roster of opponents?

TL:  I don’t really look at the guys in my weight class because I don’t like to know about them.  Because it messes with my mind and my training.  As a matter of fact, with this last fight with Fernando [Gonzalez], I knew he had cornered Jon Brock, whom I fought in January, but I didn’t really know who he was.   I’d seen a few pictures of him, but in my head, I built him up to be this six foot tall . . . just a monstrous body on him, everything I could think of.  So that way, when I saw him and he was nothing like what I saw in my head, it made it a lot easier for me.

JT:  How do you want your defense schedule to play out?

TL:  I’d like to go back and forth.  It doesn’t matter which one comes first.

JT:  Over the past few matches, we’ve seen you bring your “Kryptonite” character to life.  Tell us a bit more what that’s about.

TL:  I want to create a character that people can see and think “he’s not from here; he just goes out there and whoops ass.  I don’t know how he does it or what he’s gonna do, but he does it.”  I’m trying to say Kryptonite is here – he’s gonna whip on anybody.  He’s like the monster from another planet . . . When he gets hit, he gets mad, stronger, and more vicious.  That’s when you don’t want to be in the cage with [Kryptonite].  There ain’t nobody you can put in there who’s gonna defeat him. 

JT:  Do you know when you’re fighting next?

TL:  Hopefully by mid-November, I’ll have an idea of what weight I’m fighting and with whom.

One more thing I wanted to say is that for this last fight, I was fit about five weeks out prior to it.  From that point up until the fight, I think I trained maybe only five or six times;  I was moving to a new area, a lot of things just came up, and didn’t have a place to go [to train].  The night before the fight, I got a fever and my voice was just sapped.  So that night, the fans all saw Kryptonite at his weakest point.

JT:  And he still came away with the gold.

TL:  The next time I come in [and defend the title], you’re gonna see a different fighter.  You’re going to see more quickness, more movement.