It was a big weekend for Colorado MMA. Twenty-four fighters scrapped it out in front of a roaring crowd at the Pueblo Convention Center in the heart of the downtown area of the Steel City for Colorado Combat Club #5 Saturday night.
Colorado MMA fans in attendance got their money’s worth as there was not a dull moment in the twelve fights that took place. Of the dozen, there were two professional fights and ten at the amateur level where an amateur lightweight champion for the promotion was also crowned.
“Our goal is to get better with every show. From the first Muay Thai fights I helped put on a couple of years ago to now, we’ve come a long way,” Colorado Combat Club Promoter Erik Mitchell said. When asked about the upgrades to the production setup, Mitchell said, “It was well worth the investment.”
-KO Of The Night: Jesse McMullan
-Submission Of The Night: Zac Riley
-Fight Of The Night: Gabrielle Hartley vs Melanie Jimenez
Now, let’s take a look at each fight from the local Colorado MMA event,
Main Event: Zac Riley vs Rakan Adwan – Bantamweight
Coming into this fight, Riley and Adwan brought 22 professional matches worth of experience to the cage — and it showed. Both fighters displayed tremendous skill. However, Riley appeared to be the physically stronger fighter from the first time the two tied up. It is worth noting that Adwan just moved up from flyweight.
In the first round, Riley split the guard of Adwan with an uppercut that landed flush and sent Adwan back against the fence. Still, Adwan was able to use his collegiate-level wrestling background to recover and survive the damage.
We also saw a couple of great scrambles that saw each fighter in the more dominant position at times. “The Anointed Warrior” was eventually able to take his opponent’s back in the second round before securing the rear-naked choke finish. The Submission Of The Night Performance moves the Pariah MMA product to 7-5 overall.
Co-Main Event: Caleb “The Peaceful Warrior” Crump vs Kitaro Cade – Welterweight
Team Elevation’s Caleb Crump delivered an impressive performance in his welterweight debut. “The Peaceful Warrior” was anything but peaceful once the action ensued, and he immediately took Cade down.
Cade gave up his back to the Jiu-Jitsu specialist, who sank both hooks in and flattened Cade out right away. Cade managed to turtle at one point but did nothing to defend the barrage of strikes being landed by Crump from the top.
Crump was relentless until he was pulled off by the referee for the TKO to which Cade hopped up to dispute right away. Bottom line, Cade was finished — he wore more than a dozen shots uncontested without trying to improve his position.
In a complete lack of class and professionalism, Cade left the cage before the official decision and continued his temper tantrum to the point where he had to be escorted out of the building by the Pueblo Police Department.
Mind you, this is not the first conduct incident from Cade as he recently returned from a suspension after an incident in 2017 while still an amateur. With another suspension looming, it may be a while if we ever see Cade fight again.
Feature fight: Marquel Mederos vs Jon Nelson – (A) Lightweight Title
The 4-3 Marquel Mederos of Factory X squared off against the undefeated 4-0 Jon Nelson of Cies MMA for the promotion’s 155 lb. amateur strap. Both fighters are polished amateurs who come from solid camps that have deep roots in the sport.
Mederos made it apparent early that he was placing a heavy emphasis on his kicking game. After the second calf kick from Mederos, Nelson switched his stance, which typically indicates that the kick did some damage. Nelson returned fire throughout the first round, but the slippery Mederos avoided the devastating shots from both Nelson’s hands and feet.
Despite the visible bruising on his legs and body, Nelson came out of the gate with pressure right away in the second. Mederos continued to land a blend of punches and kicks, where most of the damage was done with the low kicks. Mederos put Nelson to the canvas a couple times with the leg kicks, and he refrained from rushing into Nelson on the ground and elected to let Nelson up to his feet each time. The strategy to keep it standing paid off for the 23-year-old who went on to snag the win and title with a TKO in the second round via leg kicks.
Brent Campbell vs Patrick Gorman – (A) Heavyweight
Kicking off the main card, Warrior Built MMA’s Brent Campbell took on Patrick Gorman of Z’s Gym. Hats off to Gorman for being a game opponent who came out throwing leather at the much taller and thicker Campbell. However, once Campbell got his hands going, they didn’t stop until the referee stopped them for him for a first-round TKO.
Let’s be clear: Campbell is an absolute unit. Standing in at a stacked 6’5” 256 lb. frame, Campbell can be a force in the heavyweight division to keep your eyes on. Yes, he’s only a 2-0 amateur, but when you are that big, that fast, and that strong, there are going to be eyes on you.
Ty Rivers vs Darien Robinson – (A) Lightweight
Factory X and Cies MMA clashed for a second time on the night as the two military veterans, Rivers and Robinson, closed out the undercard. Both fighters looked very seasoned for amateurs, and they put on a performance for the crowd that had everyone on their feet.
Rivers had his hand raised in a split decision after a two-year lay-off in which he got married, started a family, and earned his master’s degree.
This fight came down to how the first round was scored, and that was as even as it got. The second round saw Rivers having success and nearly finishing Robinson on the ground at the end of the round. In the third, Robinson tagged Rivers with a stiff punch to the chin that hurt him late and forced a desperation takedown shot. Rivers was able to hold on and survive the round to take it to the cards.
Ronnie Salazar vs Brian Eastman – (A) Lightweight
With one of the loudest crowd pops of the night, Pariah MMA’s Ronnie Salazar put on an impressive performance that earned him a second-round TKO victory.
At the end of the first round, Salazar executed a takedown that slammed Eastman to the canvas for a near knockout by itself just before the bell sounded. Eastman was slow to get up and make it to his corner. However, he looked recovered to start the second round, but the bigger Salazar was just too tall of an order for the 34-year-old.
Salazar showed his strength with the bodylock and takedown again in the second where he advanced to mount and hammered Eastman with punches and hammerfists before the stoppage was granted for the TKO.
Jesse McMullan vs Chris Sturgeon – (A) Welterweight
McMullan shut the lights off on Sturgeon for the Knockout Of The Night in the first round. Sturgeon came swinging them things at the CU Tuff Buff McMullan, and he even had a takedown and later caught a kick from McMullan and flipped him. McMullan was an athlete, though, as noted upon his cage entrance in the commentary, and was able to get back to his feet and out of danger in each of the two instances that saw him grounded.
The final blow came in the form of a devastating right cross that stiffened Sturgeon before he even hit the ground.
Micah Haas vs Desmond Jones – (A) Bantamweight
It is truly a rare sight to see someone as calm and collected in their amateur debut as Micah Haas. Haas had a menacing smile inside the cage and licked his lips in a Joker-esque fashion. The Genesis Training Center product showed off a skill set that showed promise on the ground and on the feet, where he spent a fair amount of time in side control.
Jones offered an unorthodox style with his long limbs, but Haas effectively closed the distance and implemented his game plan. Haas took advantage of a single leg takedown opportunity in the second round that afforded the opportunity to advance to mount for the ground and pound TKO.
- Theo Mac of Cies MMA put on a tremendous featherweight performance with a display of high-level athleticism for a second-round TKO finish via GNP against Logan Sikuka.
- Gabrielle Hartley of Pariah nabbed the decision over Z’s Gym’s Melanie Jimenez in our Fight Of The Night. These bantamweight ladies took each other into deep water in both of their MMA debuts. For 9 straight minutes, there was pure entertainment. Jimenez was resilient to the repeated overhand rights from Hartley — Hartley was as accurate as one could be with the right hand. Jimenez left her mark as well, literally. Hartley left the cage with a cut and considerable swelling underneath her eye.
- Drew Johnson of the CU Tuff Buffs earned his first win in the cage with a first-round TKO via punches against debutant Kurt Smith of Factory X.
- Rob Singleton of Pueblo’s Warrior Built MMA won by unanimous decision in a heavyweight bout for the curtain puller over Ricky Belmontez.
Colorado Combat Club will be returning on March 20 to the Stampede in Aurora in what is sure to be another great event for Colorado MMA fans.
-Jordan Kurtz is a founding member of Comments From The Peanut Gallery and The MMA Plug and can be followed on Instagram at @CommentsFromThePeanutGallery and @TheMMAPlug303. He covers all things Colorado MMA.
Photo by Garrett Franklin of Franklin Films LLC.