CORPUS CHRISTI, TX, July 2, 2012 – Another weekend in Texas Mixed Martial Arts has passed successfully with several shows going across the state. For us specifically, South Texas was highlighted as Ultimate Warrior Fighting (UWF) concluded their Tournament of Warriors grand prix series at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, TX.
Usually when we recap events here on TXMMA we usually keep it pretty cut-and-dry in the interest of unbiased reporting – straight to the facts, basically. However for this one, several people have asked for my personal opinion on several instances so we’ll just keep this one more conversational in nature. Keep that in mind when reading through this and know that all opinions are solely my own regarding the fights. Feel free to disagree at your leisure.
UWF 4 – Event Summary
First things first, Corpus Christi is a fight town! Aside from the great venue, several different teams, fighters, and training facilities from around the area were represented on this UWF 4 card and it showed in everything from the attendance, the noise levels in the crowd, and the fights themselves.
After several events completed I believe the UWF put on their best show to date with his one. I guess it’s only fitting that they do for such a high-stakes event ($50k on the line in tournament finals) but I’m sure it also has to do with their continued maturation process as a company as well. In short, the more you learn, the better it gets – and that’s with all things, not just MMA promoting.
With this final card, the promotion featured local talent like Jimmy Flick, Roger Narvaez, and Hector Munoz of Paragon / FCFA. They were joined on the UWF 4 card by fellow Corpus Christi natives like Chris Pecero of American Revolution, Kirk Hubble of KO Sports, and Jordan Gaza, who was making her pro debut out of Weapons at Hand.
Aside from the locals, several other talents from South Texas and beyond were also present – namely BJJ black belt Carlos Diego Ferreira – one of Texas’ best when it comes to the ground game. Add him and the rest of the undercard talent to the culmination of the Tournament of Warriors and UWF 4 had all the makings of a great event.
We’re happy to say it delivered.
Below are some of the notable storylines from the event.
Gold Team Fighters take home the gold – Sweep Tournament of Warriors Finals
Brazilian Gold Team Fighters Flavio Alvaro and Lucas Pimenta entered the tournament as two of the top favorites to win it all at lightweight and featherweight respectively. Those in the know expected both men to do well despite a field crowded with some other tough fighters at the onset of this tournament.
As it turns out, both men made it to the finals with Lucas cruising past Shamar Bailey and Mitch Whitessel to get to this point while Flavio Alvaro received a bye into the second round and got the win over Chris Quitiquit after opening up one of the nastiest cuts ever in MMA.
As for their opponents, Alvaro would draw Rey Trujillo while Pimenta would get John Malbrough in the finals. Both were expected to win with many expecting them to win easily.
That ended up not being the case as both guys had to earn their checks with tough bouts this past Saturday.
Welterweight Finals – Lucas Pimenta versus John Malbrough
Let the video be the judge but to me, it seemed to me like Lucas had a hard time than expected against John. Don’t get me wrong. The Brazilian definitely took charge of the fight early, mixing up his striking with takedowns and groundwork. He even had several close submission attempts (kimura, armbar, americana, etc.) throughout the fight but “The Maniac” sure didn’t make it easy for him. John had plenty of his own moments on the feet and seemed to be the fresher fighter as time ran out.
There actually seemed to be some confusion regarding whether this would be a three or five round affair. It seemed that both corners thought this would be five rounds but in ended up not being the case and Lucas Pimenta was able to take home the unanimous decision victory and is now $25,000 richer. Would two more rounds have made a difference in this one? We’ll never know.
Lightweight Finals – Flavio Alvaro versus Rey Trujillo
Headed into this bout, the prevailing opinion was that the crowd would be treated with a spectacular striking battle given the backgrounds of each of these two men – Flavio being the Brazilian vale tudo (bare-knuckle) fighting legend and Trujillo being the Texas hard hitter capable of delivering knockouts every time.
We (the crowd) got a little bit of that with these guys on the feet. The smaller of the two, Rey was actually the one who seemed to have an edge in the striking department and seemed to hurt Flavio on several occasions. Try as he might though, Rey was unable to put his opponent away while Flavio deftly timed his takedowns (including some big slams) to take his opponent where he was less dangerous. Three rounds later and “The Legendary” Flavio Alvaro is your Tournament of Warriors lightweight winner.
As for Rey Trujillo, well he’s verified the fact that he is indeed one of the most dangerous strikers in Texas despite losing this one to break a four-fight win streak. Look for him to come out swinging when he takes on another experienced Texas striker in Nick “The Ghost” Gonzalez July 13th in Houston at Legacy 12.
Jordan Gaza and Paige Vanzant Battle to Split Decision
Both these ladies were making their pro debuts in this, one of the most anticipated bouts of the night.
Jordan Gaza in particular clearly had plenty of hometown support in this one. The crowd applause was palpable as she made her way down to cageside and that never wavered throughout the fight. To her credit, Paige Vazant also drew a few cheers in addition to the boos upon her own introduction. I say all this to illustrate that this fight was definitely one the crowd was tuned into.
As for the fight itself, well it one that could be viewed in several different lights and that was evident when it came down to the split decision in favor of Paige Vanzant.
Without re-watching the fight video (intentionally didn’t so it wouldn’t jade my initial perception), this is how I saw the fight.
Jordan employed a game plan predicated on her ground acumen in this fight – 1 or 2 strikes to get within range and into the clinch to set up a takedown or a takedown itself seemed to be rules of engagement for her. For all three rounds this was clearly the main goal for Gaza and did her well in many respects. She definitely spent more time in top position and her best moment saw her come very, very close to finishing Vanzant with a guillotine choke after pulling closed guard. She also ended the fight on top of her opponent.
As for Vanzant, she definitely appeared to be the aggressor on the feet and spent much of the time trying to get her strikes off or defending takedown attempts from Gaza to free up space to hurt Jordan. She also landed a nice judo takedown or two on Jordan in the middle of the bout as well. She was close to being submitted by the guillotine choke but otherwise fought well to get back up and avoid taking too much punishment on the ground. When she got back up and even after the fight, she looked fresh and never stopped bouncing around.
So what does this all amount to?
A split decision is what it is.
It’s a certainty that Jordan’s fans and Jordan herself feel robbed. She didn’t get the call in her hometown and that surely has to hurt. Speaking personally, I’d probably feel the same way in her case given the talking points illustrated about regarding her half of the fight.
However, I can see the fight the other way as well. Vanzant appeared to be the aggressor on the feet throughout the duration of the fight and aside from the guillotine, was never in any real danger.
Most Texas judges would probably give her the edge in the striking department and score the ground for Jordan. Where that all falls in with the 10-point must system and who won the fight is really up for debate and up to interpretation giving the variables they are supposed to judge on – effective (clean) striking, effective grappling, cage control, and aggressiveness,
As for me, I honestly cannot say conclusively “I thought so-and-so won” without re-watching the fight. Speaking of which, I’m going to do that now.
UWF 4 – The Best of the Rest
As for the rest of the undercard, it can be summed up by saying none of the matches disappointed. It was a fun night of fights.
Up first, several hometown fighters put on some impressive performances much to the cheers of the hometown crowd.
Jimmy “The Brick” Flick looked particularly dominating in his return to Corpus Christi, the place where he got his MMA start with FCFA / Paragon. The Sand Spring, OK resident wasted no time in his bout with Adan De La Garza, sprinting across the cage and securing the quick takedown directly to passing guard. From there he set up the side choke and that was that – probably less than two minutes into the fight to secure both the win and TXMMA submission of the night honors.
As for Hector Munoz, he would have probably the most unusual bout of the night against Antwan Williams en route to the split decision win. This was actually a highly-competitive and entertaining affair with moments to be had by both men. The bout was only capitulated by two perceived fouls – both unseen. The first happened during a reversal in the first by Williams that had Munoz doubling over in pain – claiming his opponent grabbed at his family jewels. The ref did not see it so there were no penalties assessed but H-Train was given time to recover as he was obviously in discomfort. Then it was inadvertent eye poke in the third but the ref did not see a foul and did not (could not) call a break in the action because of it. Try as he might, Antwan could not put Hector away then and the bout went to the judges’ cards with Munoz walking away with the split decision victory.
Chris Pecero and Roger Narvaez wrapped things up for Corpus Christi with wins over late replacements Ali Ilewi and Larry Hopkins respectively.
A Dutch-style kickboxing expert under the tutelage of Freddy Medellin at American Revolution, Chris was able to use his skill set with knees in the clinch to win this fight but had to survive some adept heel hook attempts from the Iraqi Samurai before breaking free and scoring the TKO to bring his career record to 5-4.
As for Big Roger aka “The Silverback,” his fight was an entertaining one against journeyman Larry Hopkins. Always a showman, Larry looked to get into Roger’s head early with some finger-wagging and dancing but that seemed to just rile up the Corpus Christi fireman and cause him to stay on the aggressive path. For his part, Larry had some great moments scoring a few reversals on the ground but it was not to be for him as Roger pulled off the armbar from guard towards the end of round one.
Speaking of submissions, Carlos Diego Ferreira picked up another victory by tapout over Travonne Hobbs to bring his career record to 4-0. The Manaus, Brazil native had previously beaten Hector Munoz in Corpus at UWF 2 this past May and should be poised to break out as a potential top prospect out of Texas if he keeps winning in impressive fashion as he has.
In thrilling come from behind fashion, David Armas scored knockout of the night honors in the second bout of the evening in the third round over Corpus Christi native Kirk Hubble. A former baseball player, Kirk used takedowns, ground control and a definitive power advantage to win the first two rounds but fell victim to a relentless Armas and his well-timed knee in the opening moments of round 3 to score the win.
San Antonio’s Ray “The Judge” Rodriguez would complete the winners circle with a decision victory over Daniel Lucas in the opening bout of the night.
UWF 4 – Photo Gallery
Here’s a slideshow from the UWF 4 fights. Make sure to visit Mike Calimbas Photography for the other galleries including event weigh-ins and a behind the scenes photo gallery as well.
TXMMA Fight Night Awards
► Fight of the Night – Flavio Alvaro vs. Reynaldo Trujillo
► KO/TKO of the Night – David Armas over Kirk Hubble (knee)
► Submission of the Night – Jimmy Flick over Adan de la Garza (arm triangle choke)
UWF 4 – Tournament of Warriors Finale – Quick Results
Flavio Alvaro over Reynaldo Trujillo by split decision.
Paige Vanzant over Jordan Nicole Gaza by split decision.
Lucas Pimenta over John Malbrough by unanimous decision.
Hector Munoz over Antwan Williams by split decision.
Roger Narvaez over Larry Hopkins by submission (armbar), RD1.
Chris Pecero over Ali Ileiwi by TKO (knees and elbows), RD1.
Jimmy Flick over Adan De La Garza by submission (arm triangle), RD1
Carlos Ferreira over Travonne Hobbs by submission, (arm triangle), RD1.
David Armas over Kirk Hubble by KO (knee), RD3.
Johnny Ray Rodriguez over Daniel Lucas by unanimous decision.