On Friday evening, the Epic Fighting fans were back at the Four Points By Sheraton Hotel in Kearny Mesa to enjoy the 26th installment of the Epic Fighting Series loaded with the up and comers in the world of MMA.
Before Friday’s fights began, the promoter added a new wrinkle – a top Latin/Reggae band was brought in to entertain.
For Friday’s show, it was all about the two local gyms, The Arena MMA and Victory MMA, both from Point Loma, defending the home turf.
In Bout #1, in the featherweight division, it was the 33 year-old Timothy Molinar (0-2) from Long Beach, CA, an Independent, facing 20 year-old Harrison “Dirty Harry” Wilson of San Diego and training at The Arena MMA.
After Molinar went with successive, what looked like going for broke roundhouse kicks that missed, Wilson got underneath his guard for the takedown which after some scrambling led to Harrison getting on Molinar’s back to apply the rear-naked choke for the submission victory at 1:40 of the first round.
Bout #2, in the light heavyweight division, had 24 year-old, 6’3” Andreu Mendoza of the Fight Academy in Canyon Country, CA, making his debut, going up against 19 year-old 6’4” Harlem Dillon from Victory MMA in Point Loma, also a debutant.
With Dillon, an accomplished kick boxer from London, England only being here in the United States for a short while and now being schooled by the legendary, Mr. Everything Champion, Dean Lister, a lot of eyes were focused on this matchup, anxious to see how fast Dillon has developed.
Despite each fighter having a successful takedown in round one, the “ooh and aahs” from the crowd didn’t really start until the big punches landed. Mendoza caught Dillon with a well timed uppercut and Dillon returned fire with more than a few, solid left hooks which likely rattled Mendoza’s teeth as well as put round one in Dillon’s column.
After some early posturing in round two and avoidance of Mendoza’s attempts for a takedown, Dillon got himself in position to lock in an arm-triangle choke. From there he was able to roll and get to the mounted position to hold on for the successful reverse guillotine choke.
Bout #3, in the Bantamweight Division, featured two 26 year-olds, both debutants, 5’5” Jacob Sandoval of Black House Team Nogueira off Miramar Road in San Diego and 5’7” Jose Carlos Cortez of Team Quest, Temecula, CA who has the legendary Dan Henderson as his BJJ coach.
With both fighters being all action, you had to figure one or the other would have to give way in this battle of endurance. Then, before round one came to a close, Sandoval got himself in top position to deliver some decent ground and pound right up until the horn sounded.
In round two, Sandoval led off with a direct kick to Cortez’s chin and a takedown ensued. The round ended with Sandoval unable to pull off the submission even with his sustained rear naked choke.
In the final round, Sandoval punctuated his aggressive style by pulling off two additional, crashing takedowns which prompted all three judges to award him the 30-26 shutout victory.
Bout #4, in the featherweight division, had 24 year-old, 5’11” Christian “The Lion” Leon (2-0) of The Arena MMA in Point Loma getting the best of 23 year-old Joshua Marer (0-4) of Team Fury MMA in Murrieta, CA.
At the 1:22 mark of round one, Leon ended Marer’s night with a punishing, whip like, left kick which caught Marer in the liver. The TKO loss was Marer’s fourth straight. With it being such a dramatic ending, Leon was later awarded the trophy for “Knockout of the Night.”
In Bout #5, in the lightweight division they featured two 19 year-olds, both former California State Wrestling Champions, 5’8” Joseph Williams (1-0) of Vista, CA who trains at World MMA/Carlson Gracie of Temecula, CA and 5’11” Jefferson Creighton (2-0) of Poway, Ca who trains at The Arena MMA in Point Loma.
This was another all-action match featuring leg sweeps, rolls on the canvas, an attempted standing guillotine by Creighton and high knees to the chest.
Nearing the two minute mark of round one, Williams scored this dramatic take down and in doing so, grabbed Creighton’s arm to go for the kimora. Williams was then able to roll with the kimora locked in place to eventually get Creighton to tap.
Bout #6, in the lightweight division, featured a battle between 32 year-old southpaw Diego “Crazy Eyes” Rivera of Victory MMA, Point Loma, and 21 year-old, 5’9” Peter Pellerito of the Black House Team Nogueira Gym on Miramar Road, San Diego, CA, both making their Camo debuts.
Rivera has a record of 2-1 while fighting in the XAFS, Xplode Amateur Fight Series in nearby Valley Center. Pellerito, who started training at the age of 15, also has an Amateur MMA record. He’s 2-0 while fighting in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
From the outset, Rivera was doing the manhandling and soon had Pellerito pinned up against the cage until he scored an early take down. On top, Rivera landed several heavy blows. Pellerito attempted to get back to his feet, but to no avail as Rivera quickly had him back down on the mat.
Even though Rivera landed a solid leg kick to start round two, Pellerito managed to score a takedown of his own. After Rivera switched positions, Pellerito was getting pounded by these hammer fists to the head. Rivera’s punishment continue to rain down on Pellerito until finally the referee stepped in to stop the carnage. It was actually scary to watch, as if everyone had been mesmerized by the continual punishment being inflicted on Pellerito.
After the bout “Crazy Eyes” was interviewed by the show’s Master of Ceremonies Carlos Kremer who asked, “How did it feel to connect on those punches?”
Rivera’s response, “It’s like you’re touching the sky…come to me baby!”
Bout #7, in the welterweight division, featured 22 year-old Robert Marsters of The Arena MMA, Point Loma (1-0) getting caught up in a slugfest with 18 year-old Kai Damico (1-1) of Team Quest, Murrieta, CA. On the whole, suffice it to say, Marsters landed the heavier, cleaner blows and kicks and eventually the referee stepped in to stop the bout in round three due to a sequence of unanswered blows.
At that point, both the cut lady for Marsters and the cut man for Damico had their hands full patching up their assignments. Eventually, the cut lady for Marsters used several cotton balls to stop the flow of blood from his left nostril. Meanwhile, the cut man for Damico counseled his charge that he’d need multiple stitches for the cut above his right eye.
Bout #8, in the light-heavyweight division, featured 28 year-old, 5’11” Ricky Ricardo “The Destroyer” Lopez of San Marcos and training at 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu/10WO! going up against 28 year-old, 5’8” Daniel “The Hebrew Hammer” Thompkins of Tustin, CA and training at OC Kickboxing & MMA.
This bout took all of 10 seconds. It ended so fast it was like watching a scene from an old Three Stooges short where Mo slaps Curly. Lopez hit Thompkins on the left side of his head, followed with a right cross and finished with an uppercut. At that juncture, the referee stopped the bout.
Since neither gentleman worked up a sweat and both were still of sound mind and body, the whole experience must have seemed like a ‘What just happened’ blur. Lopez was certainly happy but his opponent just stood there shaking his head, “Give me a break.”
Bout #9, featuring two welterweights, 24 year-old Alex Trinidad (2-1) of The Arena MMA and 25 year-old Anthony Peairs (1-0) of Team Quest, was another “don’t-blink-fight.”
After Trinidad went with a body kick that was caught, Peairs took him down on the mat. At that juncture, Trinidad outmaneuvered Peairs to get on his back. He hit him with several punches, then mounted Peairs to hit him with some ground and pound which resulted in an early first round stoppage.
Bout #10, in the middleweight division, featured 25 year-old, 5’10” Adrian Gonzales (2-0, 2 KOs) of Huntington Park, CA and training at Defiant Muay Thai getting the win over 29 year-old, southpaw Michael Thomas (2-0) of San Diego, an Independent.
In round one, Gonzales started the scoring off with a take down and then tried to posture up on Thomas’ guard, but Thomas was too slick and got back to his feet. Aside from an occasional knee, this was a substandard bout as far as action is concerned.
The remainder of the fight, could be described as a short armed, defensive struggle with Gonzales maintaining control by confining Thomas against the cage. Aside from an occasional takedown, the majority of Gonzales’ success came from hard body kicks followed up by a left hook. In the end, Gonzalez got the win via an unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27).
Bout #11, in the Women’s Flyweight Division, had two southpaws meeting up, the 33 year-old, 5’5” Jacquelyn (Jackie) Vandenburgh (0-2) of Team Quest in Murrieta, CA facing the 26 year-old rookie Melissa Rivera from Costa Mesa, CA and training at the Chute Boxe Academy.
This was a tale of two rounds. In round one, with her elusive ways, quickness and striking prowess, Rivera was in control of the fight. She scored a quick take down and hopped on Vandenburgh’s back to lock her in a body triangle. She had just spun her way to the top in the mounting position when time ran out.
In between rounds, after having a moment to consult with her corner, Vandenburgh got up from her stool as if she had been given a Vince Lombardi pep talk. Revitalized, Vandenburgh returned to the contest to score a take down, then grab Rivera’s back to submit her by way of a rear naked choke.
Bout #12, in the featherweight division, featured 23 year-old Bruce Smith (3-0) of the City of Champions Team 9MMA going up against 24 year-old Ryan “The Lion” Lilley (4-5) of Bas Rutten’s Elite MMA Team of Thousand Oaks, CA.
Round one consisted of Lilley being knocked off balance and going down from a right. Both men grappled against the cage until Smith pinned Lilley and started throwing lefts. Smith then avoided a right from Lilley and landed his own. Smith then scored a take down but Lilley was able to free himself and pin Smith against the cage.
In round two, Lilley went for the take down by body slamming Smith. Only problem, Smith was able to brace himself and reverse position with a full mount which led to an attempted arm bar. Lilley then gave up his back to Smith who locked in and tried to flatten Lilley. Smith followed with additional punches from up top until Lilley finally rotated out to get top position, only for Smith to grab his arm and try for another arm bar.
In round three, Smith started by feinting with the jab and shooting in and out with combinations. Smith then moved to side control. Lilley fought hard for a standing guillotine, but Smith was able to free himself. Smith then managed another huge slam to get Lilley’s back.
In the end, the announcement came: “Your winner by unanimous decision, Bruce Smith!” All three scorecards had him winning every round.
Set to return in the next Epic Fighting show, Epic Fighting 27, on November 14, 2014, is Devin Taylor, the current 155 pound champion.