Archive for Victor Valenzuela

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.

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Verbal Sparring: Victor “Joe Boxer” Valenzuela (King of the Cage Junior Welterweight Champion)

Posted in Interviews, King of the Cage with tags , , , , , , on January 26, 2009 by jaytan716

Victor “Joe Boxer” Valenzuela is a paradox of a fighter.  He doesn’t like his nickname, despite that 1) he’s known by that name almost as much as his own name and 2) it describes a style of fighting he’s trained in all his life.  His team, Millennia MMA, is particularly recognized for their jiu-jitsu game, and he’s won at least half of his victories by submission, but he’ll be the first to acknowledge that he prefers a stand-up slugfest.  And he’s the champion of a weight class above the one he’s fought at throughout his career.

But few names are more synonymous with King of the Cage than “Joe Boxer.”  After a stuttered MMA start in 2003, Valenzuela went undefeated from 2006 to mid-2007.  His feud with Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett was already KOTC’s equivalent to the Ortiz-Shamrock legacy, and when both he and “the Horse” were called up to EliteXC, their bitter rivalry continued on a national stage.  In August 2007, Valenzuela beat Krazy Horse by submission from punches, and one year later, he would become the King of the Cage Junior Welterweight championship.

In between training sessions for his upcoming title defense, I caught up with “Joe Boxer” and got his thoughts on his infamous rivalry, what it means to win championship gold, and the key to giving fans a good fight.

JT:  Let’s start with your background and how you got involved with MMA.

VV:  I grew up in Covina, CA.  I’ve been boxing pretty much since I was probably around eight or nine years old, when I started training with my uncles.  They used to box, so they would teach me how to throw a punch and stuff. . . I married my high school sweetheart, had a couple of kids, worked, and stopped fighting for a little bit.  You know how that goes.

I got back into boxing in my early 20’s.  Just amateur stuff, because I liked to fight.  I didn’t think I was going to turn professional or anything.  I just liked training and stuff.

JT:  Did you go pro with boxing?  Win any championships?

VV:  I won a Golden Gloves by a walkover one year.  There were no opponents in my weight for that one.  I was supposed to go to Colorado for the finals, to try to get into the Olympics, but I never made it there, only because of work and stuff.  I had a mortgage payment and I had a family to take care of.  I was a runner-up in another Golden Gloves tournament.  I turned pro when I was 30 years old.  I tried it out and went 0-2 as a professional; only because I couldn’t really train the way a professional boxer has to train in a fight.  I was working 70-80 hours a week and trying to box and it just wasn’t working out for me.  So I retired.

A buddy of mine – my son used to play baseball with his son – said he knew some guys that grappled and did MMA.  And because he knew I boxed, he wanted to know if I was interested in checking that part of fighting out.  I was interested from watching Royce Gracie do his thing.  I said “yeah man, I would love to learn how to grapple.”  So that’s what got me turned on to Millennia MMA.

We were Millennia Jiu-Jitsu, back when it was a straight jiu-jitsu academy then.  I started training there back in 2002.  And everybody there was grapplers and wrestlers.  I was the only boxer coming in there.  That’s how I got my nickname “Joe Boxer.”  Nobody knew my name, but I was the only boxer in the gym. [Some guy said] “I guess his name is Joe” so they just started calling me “Joe Boxer.”

JT:  That’s one of the more unique ways to get a nickname.

VV:  Yeah, they still clown me about it.  ‘Cuz I hate the nickname.  I told them I didn’t like it, so after that, it was over.  They ran with it and that was my name.  I train with a bunch of clowns.

JT:  You should have known that was going to be the final nail in the coffin.  If you could pick a nickname, is there another name you would want?

VV:   I used to be called One-Punch back in the day, in high school, when I did street fighting.  One punch and I would knock people out.  I wouldn’t mind having that nickname now, but “Joe Boxer” has stuck, so I just roll with it.

JT:  You talked a bit about the street fighting.  I always like to ask fighters if there was anything in particular of their upbringing that they think led them to MMA. Obviously, with you, there was the boxing and the adrenaline rush of competing.

VV:  Honestly, I’ve been fighting since kindergarten.  My first fight was in kindergarten, over a girl.  I don’t even know the guy’s name, but I remember that he liked the girl and I was sitting next to her and he wanted my seat or whatever.  One thing led to another, we got into a fight, and I beat him up.

Ever since then, I guess I had a bulls-eye on me, because guys are always trying to pick fights with me.  I’ve never started a fight in my life.  If we had YouTube back in my day, I’d be Kimbo Slice in the 80’s.

I didn’t even plan on fighting.  I just wanted to learn how to grapple, actually.  I was infatuated by that stuff.  The guy at the gym actually talked me into doing a King of the Cage fight when I fought Shad Smith back in 2003.  I was basically just a boxer fighting Shad Smith, and I almost beat the guy.

JT:  What do you remember of that first fight, as you prepared for it and when you were in there?

VV:  At Millennia, we had a downstairs area we called “The Dungeon,” where all the fighters practiced.  Since I was a boxer, all the fighters wanted to get ready for the fight, they wanted me to go down there and spar with them all the time.  So I never really got a chance to grapple for the first six to eight months.  I was always down with the guys, getting them ready for their fights.

I was doing pretty well sparring with the guys, beating everybody up, dropping people with body shots and hurting people with hooks and stuff.  One of the co-owners from Millennia says “Terry Trebilcock is looking for an opponent to fight Shad Smith.”  I said “hell now, I’m not even in this to be a cage fighter.  I’m just a retired boxer who wanted to learn how to grapple.”  I wasn’t even expecting to be a fighter.  I just wanted to learn a little bit of jiu-jitsu.  Just in case I got into a fight on the street or something.  If somebody took me down, I’d know how to ground fight a little bit.  So he hit me up and I told him “no, I’m not a fighter.”  They kept pushing it, saying “we think you can beat this guy.  He’s a pretty well-known name.”  I slept on it a couple of days, came back, and said “let’s do it.”

All I basically did was box for that fight.  I tried to learn how to sprawl a little bit.  And the guy there told me that Shad Smith is a stand-up fighter.  “He’s not gonna take you down or anything.”  And I’m like “cool, we’re gonna fight.”

And even the rules were changed for that fight.  It was a no-submissions match.  He wouldn’t fight me unless submissions were thrown out.  So we fight and the next thing you know, I crack him a few times and hurt him.  I almost knocked him out, and he turns into an Olympic wrestler.  I lost that fight on a decision from a takedown.  If you watch the fight, you hear the commentators saying “we’ve never seen Shad take anybody down.  This is the first time” and blah blah blah.  Well, what’s he doing taking me down in the first place?  It was his idea for no submissions, and the next thing you know, he’s taking me down.  I didn’t really get it.

JT:  So he wanted to prohibit the submission skills that you hadn’t really had a chance to develop at that point?

VV:  I didn’t even have any submission skills yet, but he didn’t know that.  I guess he knew Millennia, so he probably thought that I had some pretty good submissions.  Which I didn’t [laughs].  He probably would have won if it was a submission fight.

JT:  For the fans who don’t know, talk a little bit about Millennia MMA.

It’s awesome, man.  All the coaches, and the fighters, and students – it’s like a big family there.  I can’t say enough about them.  They brought me from being retired and got me a belt around my waist.  They molded me into a champion.  You’ve got Romie Arum, Javier Vasquez, and Betiss Mansouri.  Chad Davis helps me out a lot.  All my training partners.  There are so many people there.  I’m going on seven years with them now.  If it wasn’t for those guys, I don’t know where I would be.  I would be just working and nobody would know who I was.

JT:  And now you’re a champion and at the top of your game.

VV:  And that’s all because of those guys.  They’re the ones that talked me into fighting.  They saw something in me.

I’m looking at this fight to keep my belt.  The guy’s coming into my backyard. He’s from New Mexico.  This is my stomping grounds, bro.  This whole West Coast right here. . . I was knocking people out before the guy was even born; you know what I’m sayin’?  If he thinks he’s gonna come into my backyard and take my belt, then he’s got another thing coming.  It’s gonna be a dogfight.  I’m not gonna lay down for nobody.

Especially in that this is my hometown right here.  And if he thinks [because] he’s from New Mexico, New Mexico this and New Mexico that, he’s got another thing coming.  Because my whole family is from New Mexico, so you’ve got nothin’ on me.

JT:  You pretty much got both sides covered.

VV:  I got both sides covered.  The guy says he’ll stand and bang with anybody and then he fights my guy, Will Sriyapai, and ends up taking him down and ground-and-pounding him.  Don’t tell the world you’ll stand and bang and then go in there and shoot and take the guy down. . . To me, if you shoot and take a guy down and ground-and-pound him, that’s not a fight.  People want to see guys standing up.  They want to see guys punching each other.  They don’t want to see guys shoot, tackle, and watch guys roll around on the ground.  It’s boring.  I mean I’m an MMA fan my damn self, but when I see guys do that, it’s boring to me.  I wanna change the channel.

JT:  What’s the toughest part of fighting for you?  Is it the preparation?  The mental part?  The rules from one state to another?

VV:  It’s just the preparation.  Getting ready for the fight sucks, bro.  That’s where you get injured.  You get up every day and go to the gym, and bust your ass for four, five hours.  It’s tough, but that’s a part of being a fighter, dude.  The day of the fight, I don’t get nervous or nothing.  I just can’t wait to get in there and do my thing.  It’s like going to an amusement park for me.  I love the adrenaline.  Like I said, I came out of the womb to fight.  I’ve been fighting since I was a kid.  My ancestors must have been some great gladiators down the line.  Some good stock, I guess.

JT:  Some Aztec and Inca warrior blood going on there.

VV:  Sometime like that.  I feel like I was born to fight.  I’m almost 40 years old and I’m still hanging with these younger cats, you know what I mean?  I’m fighting a guy 14 years younger than me next month.  And it’s like I said – to me, it’s like a man fighting a child.  To me, a child can’t beat a man; you know what I’m saying?  I’m almost old enough to be his pops.  And I’m old school.  I can’t see a kid whoopin’ me.  Can’t see it.

JT:  Let’s step back in time a bit.  Your first match with Krazy Horse was your second fight.  It led to a scheduled match in EliteXC, which didn’t happen.  You finally got your match and revenge on a ShoXC event in August 2007.  Now that that whole thing is a year and a half in the past, do you have any new thoughts on it?

VV:  Honestly, as soon as he gets out of jail, I’m ready to get back in there with him.   You guys don’t see it, but behind the scenes, the guy has the biggest mouth.  I mean he talks so much crap.   “Hate” is a bad word, I really don’t hate anybody, but I really can’t stand this guy.  He gets under your skin.  He talks a lot of stuff.  If you go on YouTube and you punch in ‘Krazy Horse,’ he’s got a bunch of stuff talking about my kids, talking about how he’s gonna beat my ass.  The guy doesn’t shut up.

When we fought in Mississippi, we stayed at the same hotel, and he had camera crews following him around like he was a big superstar.  When we would pass each other in the lobby, he would just talk so much shit.  You know how ghetto the guy is.  Just imagine him in your ear for two or three days talking about how he was going to whip you, how you’re too old for him, how he was gonna kick the senior citizen’s butt.  I just can’t stand the guy.  Hopefully, when he gets out of jail, I can whip his ass one more time for everybody.

JT:  Seems like you just wanna make that part of your career.  Every time he comes up, knock him down again.

VV:  The guy’s an idiot.  They guy’s got so much potential.  He’s making a lot of money fighting, but . . . the guy’s actually got talent.  If he trained and got into a good school, he’s probably be pretty damn good.

And EliteXC was paying him so much money.  Same thing with Kimbo.  He’s a smaller version of Kimbo Slice, I’d say.  Kimbo was another guy they spent all this money on and he gets knocked out in what, 14 seconds?   I’m over here training my ass off every day doing this and doing that and I’m not making that money.  It’s kinda discouraging.

JT:  Let’s talk about personal triumphs.  You won the King of the Cage Junior Welterweight championship.  You had a big smile on your face.  That must have meant a huge deal to you, to achieve that kind of championship status.

VV:  It’s like going to college and getting your Master’s degree.  I’ve been fighting for so long.  Since I was a kid, I’ve always thought I could be a champion.  I thought it was going to be boxing, but it happened to be MMA.    This sport gave me an outlet, another option to be a champion.  I’m grateful to MMA bro.  I got my Master’s degree finally.  You go to school for so many years, and I’ve finally got it.

JT:  You got that at 160 lbs.  Most of your career, you’ve been fighting at 155 lbs.  Would you feel comfortable going down to 155 lbs. and chasing after that title or would you rather focus on defending?

VV:  That’s another thing I’ve been thinking about.  I just jumped into this 160 lb. weight class because EliteXC didn’t have a 155 lb. weight class.  But no, 155 lbs. is my weight.  That’s the weight I like to fight at.

I just jumped into this King of the Cage 160 lb. weight class because it was made to order for me.  Joe Camacho was the champion.  I’d trained with him a few times and I knew I could beat him.  Terry asked me if I wanted to fight and I’m like “let’s do it.”

Actually, after this defense, I’d most definitely want to jump back into my more comfortable weight class, which is 155 lbs.  Because the guys that are coming down to 160 lbs. now are welterweights that are coming down from 170 lbs. to cut another 10 pounds to come in at 160 lbs.  If I stay at 160 lbs., I’m gonna be fighting guys that are a lot bigger than me still.  I think at 155 lbs., I’ll be fighting guys that are my size, or a little smaller than me, but I’ll have the advantage, you know?  After this defense, I’m definitely coming after the 155 lbs. champ.  That’s my goal.

JT:  The current champ [KOTC Lightweight champion] is Rory McDonald.  Do you know anything about him?

VV:  I don’t know, but I heard he’s like a 19-year old kid.  So it’s like beating up my son.  I got an 18-year old son.

JT:  You’ll use him as a training partner?

VV:  Probably.  He needs to get his ass kicked.  [Laughs].  But that 155 lb. belt, that’s actually another goal of mine.  So let’s just see how this fight turns out, but 155 lb. weight class is a legitimate weight class.  I’m pretty sure they made the 160 lb. weight class for Nick Diaz, because they had all their plans with Nick Diaz and EliteXC.  He couldn’t cut to 155, so I’m pretty sure they made that 160 lb. weight class because they thought Nick Diaz was going to be the next superstar.  And then KJ Noons too.  He couldn’t cut to 155, but he’s their 160 lb. champ.  You know what I mean.

JT:  What would you say is your best and worst memory in your career?

VV:  Losing in 47 seconds to Edson Berto on the Strikeforce card (“Strikeforce / EliteXC:  Shamrock vs. Baroni”) up in San Jose.  That was the first fight of that main event and I got heel hooked in 47 seconds.   That was the worst. . . I felt like retiring right after that fight.

I was supposed to fight Krazy Horse that night and he went to jail again.  [EliteXC] was supposed to bail him out, so the whole time I was out there in San Jose, I would hear every hour, half-hour “oh yeah, Krazy Horse is getting bailed out.  You’re gonna be fighting Krazy Horse . . . oh no, you’re not.  You’re gonna fight such-and-such.”  So I didn’t know who I was going to be fighting until that day.

I’m not making any excuses, but I really didn’t do any grappling for that fight.  It was all just basically stand-up.  Because when you fight Krazy Horse, you’re not gonna really grapple.  It’s just throwing punches as hard as you can and it’s basically a street fight.  So I did a lot of sparring, a lot of boxing for that fight, and I go in and fight a guy that, I guess his best move is an ankle lock.  So I got caught, bro.  Shit happens.  But that was pretty much the worst part of my career.

JT:  At first, I would assume that your best memory is winning the title, but the way I hear you talking, maybe it’s also knocking Krazy Horse out.

VV:  Yeah, they both pretty much running neck-and-neck.  I gotta say winning the belt.  I mean that’s why I got into the sport – to be a champion.  I’ve fulfilled my dream there.

JT:  Who are some of your favorite fighters or the best matches that you’ve ever seen?

VV:  I like the stand-up fighters.  I like the guys that just stand-up and just bang.  I’m a Wanderlei Silva fan.  Just the way he fights; he’s an animal.  He doesn’t take a backward stance.  He comes at you.  He tries to kill you with every shot.  I like BJ Penn.  He’s one of the best, I gotta say.  Anderson Silva’s another one.  Guys like that.

But yeah, in this sport, people are evolving, dude.  You can’t just go out there and think you’re a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and you’re gonna go out there and tap everybody.  Guys that are well-rounded in every aspect of the game. . . It’s tough now.  Like I said, I thought I could just go out there and punch people out, but these guys – they know they’re fighting me, they’re working on their wrestling, their grappling, they’re working on tying my punches up.  I gotta extend my game now.  Next fight, you might see me throw some kicks, bro.  You never know.

JT:  What do you like to do in the downtime, when you’re trying to get away from fighting or training?

VV:  Nothing, really.  If I’m not fighting, I’m working.  I basically just hang out, chill, and watch TV.  I got pretty much a boring life.  I’m basically a loner.  Which ain’t bad; I mean, no stress, man.

JT:  Besides the Horse, is there anybody else you’d like to put your skills to the test with?

VV:  I’d like to fight Nick Diaz before I retire.  Or KJ Noons.  Guys like that.  I think KJ and I would be a good fight, because we’re both boxers.  We both have boxing backgrounds.  I think it would be an exciting fight for the fans.  Nick Diaz the same thing.  He likes to stand and please the crowd too, so I think that would be an exciting fight also.  But actually, before I retire, I would like to fight some of the best of the best.

JT:  You’d go in there with BJ?

VV:  If the money was right, you better believe I would!

JT:  How about if the money was wrong?

VV:  I’d probably fight him just to say I fought him.  When I was older, I could say “hey, I fought that guy.”  It would be an honor to fight that guy.  Probably wouldn’t last a few rounds, but it would be spectacular.

JT:  Who are some of your sponsors and why should the fans know them?

VV:  I got MaxMuscle here in Rancho Cucamonga that helps me out with all my supplements, keeping me young.  I got Warrior Wear taking care of all my fight gear, my shorts and stuff like that.  I got AA Glass & Mirrors.  He’s my uncle, his name is Armando.  He gives me money monthly to help me live and stuff, to train.   I got Chronic Cantina, over in Upland.  It’s a nice little place to go chill.

Victor “Joe Boxer” Valenzuela defends his KOTC Jr. Welterweight title for the first time on February 26th, at the San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino in Highlands, CA.

Spiritwolf, Joker score big wins at KOTC: Prowler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other KOTC action that night included:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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