Bamma USA delivers at the Commerce Casino for Badbeat 15

Badbeat15_insertIt was a cool (for California) night in April (which would be a ‘perfect night’ just about anywhere else, I know…) as cars full of MMA fans streamed into the Commerce Casino parking lot, here to see one of California’s premier professional MMA promotions as BAMMA USA put their fifteenth event on in their Badbeat series.

They would not be disappointed—this card had real buzz around it. The match-ups were very promising. Both the main and co-main events featured fighters with tremendous potential.

The paramedics would earn their money tonight. But I’m getting ahead of myself: The evening started off strong, with an action packed catch-weight bout at 130 lbs. between Eric Rios and Jose Huerta:

130lbs: Eric Rios (0-1) vs Jose Huerta (0-2)
Round one: Fighters come out. Huerta punches Rios back against the cage. Rios clinches. Knees from Huerta. Huerta going for a single-leg. Rios defending well. Knee to the head of Rios who reverse, takes Herta down. Huerta pops back up, takes two knees to the face by Rios. Huerta defending takedown now. Ref separates them.

Center of cage, they kick. Each lands. Huerta moves forward, swinging, but this time Rios grabs him and swings him around to get him against the cage. Extremely short-lived victory as Huerta reverses postiion. They separate, and Rios looks for kicks while Huerta manages to dodge and counter with fists successfully. Against the cage again, they dirty box.

They separate and Rios takes a strong kick to his lead leg, and stomach. When Rios attempts to come back with punches, He misses and takes a straight punch to the face.The round ends.

Round two: Huerta appears to be the stronger boxer, and the stand up exchanges seem to be going his way. Rios takes him down, landing in full guard and punching Huerta’s ribs while Huerta holds him. The ref separates them and Huerta pushes his advantage, landing fists and using a trip to take Rios down.

Working in half guard, Huerta eventually works into a North-South position and after a scramble, takes Rios’ back. After a first attempt at a choke was coming short, Huerta dropped the attempt and began dropping fists, causing Rios to attempt to escape and eventually work to his feet.

Rios attempts to take Huerta down, but Huerta, clearly the fresher fighter, manages to take his back in the scramble. The round ends.

Round three: Rios is visibly tired and attempts a spining back fist that misses it’s target. Huerta attempts his own, which also misses. Huerta throws a flurry of punches, some of which land, which forces Rios to shoot. Huerta sprawls and avoids the takedown. As they wrestle against the cage, Rios hurts his knee and the fight is stopped.

The onsite paramedics bring the stretcher in to carry Rios out of the cage. There is a brief delay while the paramedics return to the ballroom. (the fights can’t continue until there are paramedics in the room.)
Winner: Jose Huerta, TKO (knee injury)

125lbs: Adrian Gutierrez (0-2) vs. Kyle Estrada (0-0)
Note: I’m a total music geek and before this bout even began, I was totally satisfied: Estrada came out to House of Pain’s “Jump Around”, while Gutierrez quickly followed, walking out to Cypress Hill’s “Insane in the Membrane”… I’ve been waiting for this moment for years! Haha. Seriously, though, it was great.

Round one:  Estrada was making his pro debut, which usually comes with nerves. He showed he is ready, though, by always moving forward, being very active and accurate with his boxing and landing strike after strike, with fists and elbows (and even a few knees for good measure), putting Gutierrez away in less than a minute.
Winner: Kyle Estrada, TKO (strokes)

205lbs: Andre Walker (2-0) vs John Hernandez (2-0)
After the last two bouts, these guys look huge!

Round one: Walker moving forward, taking early control of the cage, while Hernandez seems content counterstriking for the most part. They faint and move, each striking sparingly, single kicks and punches. Hernandez fakes shooting in for a double-leg twice and pulls up while swinging a hook, but misses both ttimes. The third time, he actually shoots and gets Walker down.

From top position, Hernandez attempts a side choke from half guard, but eventually is forced to give it up and in the ensuing scramble, allows Walker to get up. He quickly remedies this and takes him down against the cage. Walker gets up and they separate.

Moving forward again, Walker shows that he is a confident striker. Getting Hernandez against the cage, he attempts a side kick to the face. The crowd loves it. But he pays for it as Hernandez takes him down. Escaping, Walker backs out of guard and backs up, forcing the ref to stand Hernandez up. After a moment the round ends.

Round two: This time Hernandez moves forward to start the round, charging Walker and forcing him back. After a moment, though, we’re back in familiar territory, with Walker getting Hernandez against the cage and staying in the pocket. Walker does a good job of avoiding punches while moving in and out to throw his own, but it isn’t long before Hernandez charges and pushes him across the cage to clinch against the opposite side. He gets Walker down, but Walker attempts a leg lock to sweep. Hernandez avoids this and lands in mount.

After being stifled by Walker, Hernandez finds himself swept with Walker in his guard. A few hammer fists later, Walker backs up and forces a stand-up. The men are tired, nut Walker still moves forward and lands a solid body kick and a hook to Hernandez’s face before the round ends.

The DJ plays Limp Bizkit between rounds. Seriously.

Round three: The crowd cheers as the fighters prepare for the third round. When the bell sounds, Walker gets back to business, taking his usual position facing Hernandez with Hernandez’s back against the cage. This time, Hernandez is not as accepting of this and moves forward himself, pushing Walker back into the center of the cage several times. Eventually, he shoots in and takes Walker down against the cage.

Hernandez has good top control, and spends most of the round on top, landing occasional strikes. At the ‘ten seconds left’ cue, Walker springs up and chases the now retreating Hernandez around the cage, failing to catch him before the bell sounds and Hernandez raises his arms.
Winner: John Hernandez, unanimous decision (29-28 on all three judges’ cards)

170lbs: Ty Freeman (8-3) vs Eddie Jackson (5-1)
These guys came to bang! (I know that’s used a lot. Sometimes, it just fits.) Anyway, Jackson caught Freeman with an overhand punch early in the round and stunned him, but Freeman recovered quickly and took Jackson down. It was short-lived, though, and it wasn’t long until Jackson and Freeman were swinging away again, although Jackson was doing most of the connecting, and Freeman would occasionally stop swinging and try to protect his face. It proved to be a bad idea.

Freeman was able to take Jackson down a second time, but the story of this fight is really Jackson’s powerful striking, and it’s ability to end fights. Once Jackson got Freeman against the cage, he stood back and tee’d off, forcing the Ref to stop in and save Freeman.
Winner: Eddie Jackson, TKO (strikes), 3:55 of the first round

125lbs: Shai Lindsey (2-0) vs Tim Riscen (4-0)
Round one: Riscen catches a kick and immediately takes Lindsey down, although he doesn’t do much at first, allowing Lindsey, sitting against the cage, to land elbows and fists to his face and body… Lindsey stands up and they scramble on the feet, but eventually separate.

Lindsey lands some good leather on Riscen, and Riscen returns fire. A front kick to teh face by Lindsey glances and a fist follows, landing more flush. Riscen is tough and stands in the pocket, trading and eventually landing a powerful straight right that drops Lindsey. Lindsey grabs Riscen’s legs, and Riscen is unable to capitalize on the moment. They are really going for it, and once Lindsey gets Riscen against the cage he is able to pull the legs out from under him and begin to land fists as the round ends.

Round two: Both men move forward, swinging. Riscen swings a little wildly, and Lindsey is able to take advantage, dropping Riscen with a solid body shot. Riscen flips on his back and invites Lindsey into his guard, but Lindsey wisely backs away and the ref stand Riscen up. It doesn’t take Lindsey long to land another devastating body shot, and Riscen goes down, forcing the ref to put a stop to the bout.
Winner: Shai Lindsey, TKO (body shot), 2:45 of round two

135lbs: John Robles (7-4) vs. Rob Gooch (3-2)
Round one: Very active fighters, they both constantly move and strike, Gooch seems to be getting the best of the stand up, landing effective knees and elbows when close. An errant leg kick pauses the action, as Robles takes a moment to recover. But soon they’re back at it again, working the entire cage. Gooch charges and Robles ties him up and puts him against the cage. Soon Gooch reverse and lands a knee, followed by a takedown. Robles is quick to get back up and they separate.

The crowd is really getting into this fight, chanting and cheering. They are rewarded with lots of fast action!

Gooch takes a right to the face but keeps moving forward. Robles seems to be the sharper fighter now, although they’re pretty evenly matched. The round ends.

Round two: Gooch takes the center but also takes a straight right to the face, and Robles chases him around the cage for a moment. Gooch re-sets and they’re back at it. A leg kick causes Robles to stumble, and an elbow cuts him, causing his face from just above the nose down to be a mask of red.

They both give and take, each landing powerful shots and both stumbling in response but neither going down. The place is rocking, the crowd cheering and yelling with every development, and when Robles kocks out Gooch’s mouthpiece with a punch, they place explodes! Robles rushes forward to capitalize and they go to the ground, where the round ends.

Round three: Respect from both men at the beginning, as everyone in the room watches intensely. Robles shoots but his attempt to take Gooch down is stifled. They continue at a rapid pace, moving and exchanging, circling and striking. Robles’ cut is opened again, and the blood flows freely.

Seriously, this is some Griffin-Bonner shit. And how appropriate so close to the tenth anniversary of that milestone fight…

They are moving slightly slower now, but still at a pace better than most fights. Seriously, I’m not sure how this will go, if it comes to decision.

Robles shoots in for a round-stealing takedown at the end of the round, but Gooch stuffs his takedown and spins him into a D’arce choke as the round ends.

Amazing bout. Both men truly brought it and showed skill and heart tonight. Keep an eye on these guys! One of the best fights I’ve ever witnessed. No joke.
Winner: Rob Gooch, split decision (30-27 G, 29-27 R, 30-27 G)


Co-Main Event: 155lbs: Kevin Bostick (5-3) vs. Chris Costello (3-3)
Round one: It doesn’t take long for Bostick to drive Costello to the cage, but after a moment there, Costello reverses and lands a nice elbow. They separate, and Bostick lands a headkick to Costello’s neck, but it doesn’t seem to have much effect on Costello and ne moves in to takeBostick down and they’re in a leg lock battle. Costello appears to be the better groundfighter, and pummels Bostick, eventually taking his back and working toward a body triangle and a rear-naked choke. Bostick turns, defending against the choke and forcing Costello to release the body triangle attempt.

Bostick moves to his knees, Costello on his back, and ends up on his side, with Costello again working for a choke from the back. Bostick finally works to a standing position and gets Costello against the cage.

Using his left hand to hold the face of Costello, Bostick lands a devastating right elbow, sending Costello crumpling to the mat. We’re talking Rashad Evans vs Lyoto Machida knock out. And for the second time of the night, the paramedics are forced to use the stretcher to bring a fighter out of the cage.
Winner: Kevin Bostick, KO, 4:17 of the first round

Main Event: 155lbs: Chris Saunders (11-7) vs Darren Smith (6-4)
Round one: These guys respect each other, and it shows (and they should—they’re both skilled, dangerous fighters)… after a brief feeling out period, they started going at each other, moving in, striking and moving out. Saunders was landing disruptive leg kicks, and when Smith returned with a front kick to the chest, Saunders caught it and moved to take Smith down. Smith did a good job defending and avoiding the takedown, but left his neck vulnerable in the process.

Saunders used the guillotine to control Smith at first, and then, with Smith trying to grab Saunders’ leg, pulled jump guard, rode Smith down to the mat and squeezed, forcing the tap.
Winner: Chris Saunders, Submission (guillotine choke), 1:14 of round one

What a night! In the same time that Bellator, World Series of Fighting and RFA had televised bouts, BAMMA USA delivered for it’s LA crowd. Again. As they’ve done consistently for years.

Badbeat 16 comes to the Commerce Casino on June 26th. If you’re within traveling distance—get here. (And get tickets soon—on a night when Bellator was 20 miles away in Irvine, BAMMA USA was a sellout. Locals know what’s up.)