Spar Star at Hollywood Park

Screen shot 2014-03-07 at 10.31.02 AMThe Hollywood Park racetrack may be done for good but the Casino was still roaring on this unseasonably warm night in Southern California and it’s second floor was rocking with amateur MMA brought by SparStar.

The crowd was loud and ready for action and they got what they came for. There’s something about amateur MMA… the frantic energy typical of a fighter at the beginning of his career… the local fans, cheering on their hometown fighter (and more than anywhere else in MMA, amateur fighter really can have a hometown advantage)… If you can’t get excited by local MMA events, you might want to look for another sport—it’s that good!

Angel Gonzalez vs Tanner Grant
Angel Gonzalez has the flashier striking style, but Grant’s stifling wrestling and effective takedowns (slams, really) allowed him to dominate the rounds. Both guys showed great heart and were 1-0 coming into this bout, and both show promise.
Winner: Tanner Grant, unanimous decision

Dominick Reyes vs Tywone Cotton
Reyes is a confident fighter and tonight, against the debuting Cotton, he backed it up. Reyes managed distance well, keeping Cotton in kicking range as he kicked and lunged in to punch. At some point, he seemed to have hurt his left hand, based on his post-fight behavior, but you wouldn’t know it during the fight. He was accurate and aggressive, and took care of Cotton in just over a minute.
Winner; Dominick Reyes, TKO

Henry Mendez vs Antonio Vazquez
Vazquez is on a mission: take Mendez down. In the first two rounds, he accomplished his mission. In both rounds, however, he was able to do little more than land a few punches before Mendez stifled his attack and the ref stood them up. It was enough for Vazquez to win the two rounds, but other than controlling Mendez, that was it.

Screen shot 2014-03-07 at 10.31.18 AMThe third round began with a little more stand-up than the previous two, probably because Vazquez’ Mom between rounds signaled that he was to punch Mendez more. (I love amateur MMA!). But ultimately, the third round matched the previous two: Vazquez took Mendez down, powerfully, and held him down while landing a few strikes.

Honestly, Vazquez’ Mom was more exciting than the actual fight. She was on fire!
Winner: Antonio Vazquez, Unanimous Decision

Kevin Widdoes vs Jose Antonio Ahumada
Widdoes looks like a 170 pounder while Ahumada doesn’t look like he cuts any weight at all. As you might imagine, the larger fighter dominated, getting Ahumada to the mat and controlling him, eventually getting mount, and then pounding him out with punches from the mount. Ahumada was doing a decent job of moving his head and defending, but in amateur MMA, fights get stopped sooner than the pro fights, and so the ref stepped in to save Ahumada.
Winner: Kevin Widdoes, TKO (strikes)

Derrick Martinez vs Lionel Mathews, Super Heavyweights
Super Heavyweights. Need I say more? I didn’t think so. These are some big boys throwing down. Anxious, Nervous…. Large.

Screen shot 2014-03-07 at 10.31.40 AMHow large? Martinez weighed in a 362 lbs, giving him 100 pounds over Mathews.

What does an extra 100 pounds give a man, in punching power? A lot, in this case, as Martinez knocked Mathews out with a right that seemed to connect to the forehead and slide down the face, sending Mathews to the canvas, flat on his face.
Winner: Derrick Martinez, KO

Flavian Pilgrim vs Jonell Kimbrough
Kimbrough showed flashes of dynamic striking but quickly ended up on his back, defending submission attempts and ground and pound from Pilgrim. There was no quit in Kimbrough, and he was able to escape being stopped throughout the three round fight, but he was ultimately dominated on the ground by Pilgrim.
Winner: Flavian Pilgrm, Unanimous Decision

Punk Band Intermission: The Idiots.
Seriously, the action in the cage was broken up by a performance in another room. Thankfully, they weren’t playing in the cage. This was old school punk and was pretty awesome, from a distance. Simultaneously, the ring card girls took pictures with people and each other.

Daniel Rodriguez vs David Stupplebeen
Wrestler vs BJJ…  Stupplebeen shot in, was stuffed. They grappled around the cage, with Rodriguez getting the better of the action. Separating, they stood, each kicked, Rodriguez punched. Stupplebeen went down. Hard.
Winner: Daniel Rodriguez, TKO

Jose Rugama vs Ray Sydnor
Fast on their feet, they moved around the canvas, covering the entire cage before Rugama got Sydnor against the cage, and when Sydnor landed a knee that folded Rugama, Sydnor brought him down with a guillotine attempt, but soon lost that and found himself on the bottom, taking hard punches while working his way back to his feet. Another quick exchange ended the same way, with Rugama on top raining down blows.
Winner: Jose Rugama, TKO (strikes)

Spar Star took time, before their Co-Main Event, to recognize MMA fighter and trainer Joe Camacho, who passed in December, 2013, bringing members of the Camacho family into the cage and memorializing him with moving words from the announcer and a 10-count of the bell. A Bellator and King of the Cage veteran, Joe Camacho headlined the first Spar Star event. He recently opened his own Jui Jitsu studio, and competed in a BJJ tournament in Long Beach the morning of his passing. RIP Joe Camacho.

Pedro Leco vs Matthew Spencer, Middleweight Championship Bout
At first, it appeared they were pretty even on their feet, with the slight edge going to Spencer. On the ground, Spencer, the bigger fighter, worked his wrestling to good advantage and this is where he won the first round.

The second round began with an aggressive Spencer landing on Leco against the cage and then lifting and throwing Leco to the mat, where he forced the ref to step in and stop the fight.
Winner: Matthew Spencer, TKO (strikes)

Cody Sons vs Andre Nickelson, Light Heavyweight Championship
Sons landed a good kick to Nickelson’s ankle to start the fight, sending him back but Sons made the mistake of going right back to the successful kick, without setting it up and was countered with a punch, sending him towards the mat. Lunching to take Nickelson down, Sons ended up on bottom but displayed great strength, rolling Nickelson over but Nickelson used his momentum to extend the roll and get back on top. When Nickelson postured up, upkicks from Sons allowed Sons to get back up, where he was quickly reacquainted with Nickelson’s fists. When they clinched, Nickelson got a standing guillotine and ended the fight.
Winner: Andre Nickelson, Submission (standing guillotine)

Screen shot 2014-03-07 at 10.31.32 AMIf you like punk with your punches, Spar Star provides. All in all, a fun night of entertaining fights and fighting entertainment at the Hollywood Park Casino. Keep an eye out for their upcoming events. Support live MMA!