It was a great night of action in Downtown Houston this past Saturday as the IXFA returned to the Verizon Wireless Theatre for its second professional mixed martial arts event. Two new champions were crowned as Adam Schindler and “Hurricane” Ike Villanueva won the lightweight and light-heavyweight titles, respectively. They now join Antonio “King Kong” Flores, welterweight, as champions within the IXFA organization, which is rapidly becoming a top force within the Texas Professional Mixed Martial Arts circuit.
The two championship main events capped off a great night of MMA action in front of the live audience in attendance. With only three bouts going to the judges’ scorecards, Houston was spared the drama that accompanies judges’ decisions, ala Nam Phan’s stunning loss to Leonard Garcia at The Ultimate Fighter Finale, also held on Saturday night in Las Vegas. Instead, Houston’s hometown fans were treated to a well-rounded mix of submissions and knockouts in what was a great night of action.
Let’s discuss these results in detail and take a glimpse at the future as we ponder where these fighters and the IXFA go from here.
Light Heavyweight Title Bout – Isaac “Hurricane” Villanueva vs. Brian Lightfoot
By all accounts, this fight was to be the epitome of the age-old idiom, “styles make fights.” Using their common opponent, Artenas “Machine Gun” Young as a means for comparison, local pundits were thinking Brian Lightfoot could use his considerable length and technical standup to keep Ike at bay and nullify his punching power. It was not to be as “The Hurricane” unleashed a torrent of hellacious shots on a bewildered Lightfoot to end the fight with a technical knockout at 1:36 of round one to claim the IXFA light-heavyweight belt.
Potential Next Step – A title defense of the light heavyweight belt in April or May of next year seems to be on the horizon for the Hurricane. I am not sure yet who will be up to task for the bout, though I am sure there will be some calling for a rematch with the aforementioned Artenas Young to avenge Villanueva’s recent loss at Legacy FC. Not so sure on this bout happening though as the “Machine Gun” has been gunning for a shot at middleweight and looking to do so in January. Another option would call for someone from outside the organization to step up to the plate and challenge Villanueva. Somebody like Robert Villegas of Corpus Christie comes to mind as an established challenger willing to take on such a bout. Besides those two names, other options include the streaking Justin Ledet or perhaps Chad Cook, who won by TKO at this event and also trains with none other than Brian Lightfoot. Will he be called upon to avenge his teammate’s loss? Time will tell what’s next in the 205 title picture.
Lightweight Title Bout – Adam Schindler vs. Marc Ramirez
What a war! This five-round championship bout was proclaimed Fight of the Night and with good reason. It actually reminded me much of another recent lightweight championship bout in Rey Trujillo vs. Ray Blodgett at Legacy FC. Both that much and this one lived up to advanced billing and stand as a testimony to courage and a will to win until the final bell. Much like that bout, this one showcased takedowns and ground prowess to be the deciding factor as Schindler took home the split decision victory by virtue of those attributes. While Adam Schindler showed much heart and gumption while taking some heavy shots en route to the win, the much-ballyhooed B3 fighter also faced a stiffer test than expected from the hard-hitting Marc Ramirez, who showed Houston that he is clearly a fighter on the rise.
Potential Next Step – With another win and a lightweight title to his credit, I am hearing that Adam Schindler is on his way to a major national promotion, possibly the Ultimate Fighting Championships. If so, he sure earned it in this one, showing a well-rounded arsenal but more importantly, showing the will to win when tested. Fighters often see what they are made of during adversity and not during the easy times. This fight was definitely one of defining moments for Schindler and may have been just the type of fight needed to prepare him for the big leagues. As far as Marc Ramirez, he walked into this bout as a 2-0 fighter most were expecting to be a quick stepping stone for Schindler. He was definitely not that as he walked through fire and brimstone to come out of the other end as a bona fide threat to every lightweight fighter in Houston. I would like to see him face another hard-hitter in his next bout. A bout with either Rey Trujillo or Tim Snyder would be sure to have fight of the night potential written all over it.
As far as the rest of the card…
The main thing that stands out in my mind is the opening bout of the evening between bantamweight fighters Gerzan Chaw of Bushi Ban and Domingo Pilarte of Revolution Dojo. From the opening bell, these fighters put on an exhibition of non-stop action for the fans, with Chaw landing some vicious ground and pound and Pilarte looking for the submission. While Chaw easily dominated the action in the first round, landing the harder shots, Pilarte showed the experienced crowd in attendance why he wore pants reminiscent of submission wizard Shinya Aoki as he managed to take the victory via a quick and slick double-armbar.
Potential Next Step – Domingo “El Nino” Pilarte gave notice to the lighter fighters here in the area with this thrilling victory over an impressive opponent. With submission prowess like his, I’d actually like to see him take on another armbar guru in Chaw’s teammate, Humberto De Leon. Humberto’s natural weight class is flyweight but he’s been known to fight up in the past and would make for a great opponent against Pilarte. As For Chaw, he showed some pretty vicious GNP in this bout and has the skill set to do amazing things in the near future. Walking out of the cage, Chaw showed humility in defeat and should come back significantly stronger after learning a lesson by virtue of getting caught. I don’t know who is next for Chaw but any number of fights could be interesting, including Frank Ortega or Colin Wright if he intends to go pro.
Notable performances were also put on by several other fighters on the Saturday night IXFA undercard. For starters, Team Tooke’s Andrew Craig was able to notch his third professional victory by virtue of a unanimous decision over Joshua Foster, who never threatened despite coming out firing and swinging for the fences whenever he had space. Likewise, veteran Lane Yarbrough bested Joshua Lee via decision as well to improve his record to 10-8.
Chad Cook retired 41-year-old Ruben Davilla with a punishing array of elbows and punches from the mounted position to force a TKO victory, breaking his nose in the process. Prior to the bout, Davilla mentioned this would be his final fight, retiring win OR lose. All hats off to Davilla who fought like a champ in this bout and other wars in his local MMA career. You’re a warrior – best of luck in retirement Ruben.
Submission victories were notched by several fighters on the night. In addition to the aforementioned Domingo Pilarte, fighters winning by tapout included Justin Murray, Lee Higgins, Dwight Gipson, and a smiling Justin Ledet. Big things should be up ahead for several of these fighters. In the short-run, the next to be tested in this group will be Bushi Ban’s Murray, as the “Best Kept Secret in Houston MMA” has a stiff test already lined up in January at Legacy FC against Elite MMA’s Jordan Rivas, an undefeated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt fighting out of Baytown.
Next Up for the IXFA – February 26th 2011 marks the return of the IXFA promotion for their third event. This time, the heavyweight title will be up for grabs in the main event as Derek “The Black Beast” Lewis of Silverback Fight Academy takes on Taylor Hebert of Gracie Barra TX. This bout is actually a testimony to IXFA promoter Chris Reed’s willingness to listen to the pulse of the Houston Fight Community as this bout was initially discussed and subsequently finalized after a short discussion between community members and The Black Beast himself via the Houston Fight Community group page on Facebook. Lewis’ Coach at Silverback, Tony Orozco, has also been announced as part of the February IXFA event as he takes on Hoger MMA’s Shawn Machado. The rest of the card is still shaping up and I’m not sure quite yet if we’ll see a middleweight title bout on this next one so please chime in with your thoughts in the comments section if there are any fights YOU would like to see!