Legere claims KOTC gold; Joker, Kryptonite retain at “Distorted”
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, more so 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 clinched 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.
See the results for this fight
Verbal Sparring Archive