Looking back at last Saturday night’s Legacy Fighting Championship event, I find it hard to put into words what hasn’t been said already. Simply put, this card lived up to all the hype and anticipation local media and fans alike have bestowed upon it since its announcement.
The sold-out crowd in attendance at the Arena Theater on Saturday night was treated to everything from a scintillating highlight-reel knockout (Angel Huerta) and thrilling submissions (Justin Reiswerg & Daniel Pineda) to a knockdown-drag-out war (Jeff Rexroad vs. Ricardo Talavera) that rivaled any other in recent memory in living up to what many considered prior to the fight as a a potential fight of the night candidate.
As far as the particulars shaking out from this event, the most significant is Mike Bronzoulis of Houston retaining his Legacy Welterweight Championship over Joe Christopher, a worthy challenger from the Dallas area. Daniel “Pit” Pineda also made a significant statement in quickly submitting former 170-champ Levi Forrest and immediately calling out Legacy Lightweight Champion Ray Blodget in his bid to become a two-division champion. The rest of the card was filled with other impressive performances as some of the area’s top professionals and up-and-coming stars worked to make their own statements on fight night.
Let’s take a final look at all of last Saturday’s night action and what might be the way forward for its combatants.
Legacy FC – Post-Fight Wrap-Up and Analysis
Summary – Mike Bronzoulis (Paradigm) vs. Joe Christopher (Joe-Jitsu)
Try as he might, Joe Christopher simply could not find the answer on how to take Mike Bronzoulis down and that proved to be all the difference. From double and single-legs to trip takedowns from the clinch and even some koala guard pulls in the third, Joe-Jitsu tried it all, only to be stifled by “The Greek.” Mike would make Christopher pay for his takedown attempts all the way through with a bevy of hammerfists and punches. All those shots culminated in the third round when the ringside physician stopped the bout to prevent additional punishment to Joe’s face.
Potential Next Step – It’s hard to say what might be next for defending welterweight champion Mike Bronzoulis after this impressive performance. Locally, there are many rising names at 170 but I’m uncertain how they equate to a potential title shot. Jeff Rexroad and Brian Melancon are teammates, Alex Cisne hasn’t fought often enough, Antonio Flores is champion for another organization, and Jordan Rivas and John Malbrough are both at least a few fights away. Something tells me Mike B. has his sights set on a step up career-wise as opposed to only defending his Legacy title. As is such, I believe his next fight will likely be out-of-state unless Legacy FC can get a bigger, established name down here to fight challenge their champion.
Summary – Levi Forrest (Gracie Barra) vs. Daniel Pineda (4 Oz.)
This one ended impressively for Daniel Pineda as he was able to finish Forrest via heel hook less than three minutes into the first stanza. The two started out furiously, trading punches and kicks, until Levi aggressively went for the attack with a standing guillotine choke against the fence. Daniel would escape out and circle out, executing a belly-to-back suplex to get the fight to the floor. A brief transition later and Pineda would catch the heel and force the verbal submission.
Potential Next Step – Daniel Pineda was pretty vocal in calling out the Legacy lightweight champion Ray Blodget in his post-fight interview. He’s certainly enough to merit the title shot after dispatching of former champions Rey Trujillo and Levi Forrest in his last two fights. Even more impressive than getting the W is that he’s finished both guys! Unless Mick Maynard brings in someone like a former UFC-veteran to come on down to face the current champion, I definitely see Daniel Pineda vs. Ray Blodget as being the choice for a potential Legacy headliner down the road and that would for sure be a fight area fans would love to see.
Summary – Brian Melancon (Paradigm) vs. Derrick Krantz (Team 515)
In a performance welcoming him into the crowded Houston welterweight division, Brian Melancon bested Derrick Krantz to pick up his first professional victory at welterweight. The bout was characterized by Brian’s blistering barrage of leg kicks and scrambling ability, which gradually wore down D-Rock to the point of exhaustion en route to a unanimous decision victory.
Potential Next Step – This was a very relentless showing for the hard-hitting Brian Melancon. He showed all the power and tenacity he had at 155 translates to 170. In fact, he could even be more dangerous in this weight class. Locally, I’d love to see him fight someone like Alex Cisne (or Craig Gardner if law school isn’t trying to kick his ass hard enough) in his next fight to really test his mettle but I believe Brian will try to use the momentum of a win over the very-established Derrick Krantz to land a larger fight with a national promotion, perhaps Bellator. I will say one thing though, if Mike B. ever leaves Houston for greater pastures and Melancon doesn’t, he probably has the inside track on being next in line to be 170 champion.
Summary – Ricardo Talavera (Elite MMA) vs. Jeff Rexroad (Paradigm)
The pugilistic prowess of Paradigm’s prized police officer was on display against the power puncher from Pittsburgh as Jeff Rexroad was able to garner a decision victory over Ricardo Talavera of Elite MMA. This fight easily served as clear-cut fight of the night after three rounds of toe-to-toe action that saw Rexroad drop Talavera on more than one occasion with well-timed hooks and Ricardo returning fire with his own shots. Displaying well-rounded ground skill, Ricardo fought gamely despite being hurt, bringing the fight to Rexroad and not backing up one-inch until the final bell.
Potential Next Step – How about some rest! Seriously, both guy deserve it and (even more than them) their wives and young kids deserve to see these guys at home instead of all cranky and amped-up to fight all the time. Seriously, I know for a fact both these guys respected each other before walking into the cage but I bet they have even more respect for each other after the war they put on for the crowd in attendance. As far as what the future holds for both… I’ve got to believe Jeff Rexroad could continue up the ladder at 170. With that in mind, a fight with another one of tonight’s winners in Jordan Rivas could determine one of the division’s top contenders down the road. As far as Talavera, I can bet Houston crowds wouldn’t mind seeing him again and I hope he comes back to fight. Speaking of fights, you know what would be a good scrap? Ricardo Talavera against Jonathan Harris!
Summary – Rey Trujillo (Bushi Ban) vs. Justin Reiswerg (Bam Bam)
In what many would call an upset victory, Justin Reiswerg backed up all his pre-fight talk of finishing the former champion with a third-round armbar submission. After nineteen months off, Justin showed renewed vigor and a well-rounded skill in standing with one of the area’s fiercest strikers and also displaying an aggressive attacking guard en route to the finish. Very impressive performance over a very tough opponent in coming back!
Potential Next Step – Special shoutout to Reiswerg’s BJJ trainer Brett Boyce on doing his part to create this monster. After this fight, a few of us sitting on press row looked at each other and said, “Welcome back to Houston MMA, Justin Reiswerg.” This kid displayed such a well-rounded skill set and composure that I believe if he keeps working as hard as he does, he has the potential to be a future championship contender in the lightweight division. In terms of potential, he is Legacy what Marc Ramirez is to IXFA. I’d love to see those two bang in the cage but since that probably isn’t going to happen at this point, how about Reiswerg against somebody like a seasoned Lane Yarbrough to further test his skills?
Summary – Angel Huerta (Millenium Martial Arts) vs. Andy Sandoval (Death Row)
There are only a few things certain in this world. Haters gonna hate, ballers gonna ball, and Angel Huerta will always want to knock somebody’s head off in an exciting way. This bout was no different as a scrappy Andy Sandoval battled gamely for the better part of three rounds before succumbing to a lightning-quick head kick that put him down for the count as “The Chosen One” notched his third professional victory.
Potential Next Step – You know what was almost as impressive as the crisp striking and ensuing head kick KO? Angel Huerta’s composure on the ground. It looks like he’s been putting in solid time on the mats and didn’t get rattled when his opponent went on the attack. That speaks volumes for his development. Like I said before, he and Steve Garcia would likely make for one of the most exciting standup wars in ages and I’m sticking to my guns with that matchup. If not him, then somebody like Domingo Pilarte or Gerzan Chaw would also make for an interesting matchup that fans would want to see.
Summary – Jordan Rivas (Elite MMA) vs. Justin Murray (Bushi Ban)
In what may have undoubtedly been the closest fight of the evening, Jordan Rivas edged out a split decision victory over Justin Murray. This one would go back and forth with the two exchanging punches and knees in the clinch along with ground transitions for all three rounds. In the end, it make have come down to the very last transition on the ground as Rivas finished the fight in top position of Murray’s half guard.
Potential Next Step – After a close fight like the one they just had, you hate to see either of these guys take a step backwards. Both on their feet and on the ground, Rivas and Murray fought gamely, and for every tooth and nail. Truth be told, they both showed impressive games last night and fought like seasoned veterans. It could have went either way but somebody had win this one. Moving forward, I’d like to see both of them continue to climb the ranks and test themselves against tough opponents like John Malbrough, Jeff Rexroad, or Jonathan Harris since those offer the most feasible matchups at this point.
Summary – John Malbrough (Kingwood MMA) vs. Patrick Greene (Revolution)
Patrick Greene started out strong in putting John on his back. Undeterred, “The Maniac” was on the attack with attacks from his back to withstand the attack. Malbrough would find his rhythm in the second and push the pace on a tiring Patrick, raining down strikes from the mounted position until the referee called a halt to the action.
Potential Next Step – John Malbrough won in Maniac-like fashion, showing the work ethic which keeps him going on the winning track. By all accounts, Patrick Greene was the bigger, stronger fight walking into the cage and he came out with a fury. Malbrough was able to weather his storm and that’s become a pattern for him as he has done the same over his past three fights. I look for Malbrough to keep pushing forward in the pro ranks and pick up a fight relatively soon. It’s hard to say what is next for John in a crowded welterweight division but if he wants to keep progressing, it will be against the same batch of gentlemen looking to do the same in Jeff Rexroad, Jonathan Harris, or Jordan Rivas.
Summary – Alex Morono (Gracie Barra) vs. Marc Garcia (4 Oz.)
Marc Garcia showed heart in taking this fight on less than one days’ notice. The young upstart Alex Morono showed skill in finishing it in less than one minutes’ time with a nice triangle/armbar transition.
Potential Next Step – At only twenty years of age, Alex Morono has all the potential in the world. Starting in the sport less than two-and-a-half years ago, he’s fought impressively and has done nothing but keep on winning. I’m not sure what his rank is but he’s probably at least a purple belt level BJJ’er at this point with some very impressive kickboxing skills to go along with it. Gracie Barra has an impressive stable of MMA fighters in Houston but Morono is probably the one with the most potential and that’s saying a lot. Next for him is probably time on the wrestling mats to further hone his all-around skills. Then, maybe about six-months from now and beyond, the rest of the 170 division will have to really watch out for this guy.