Colorado MMA: Sparta Combat Series 4 recap

Fists flew on Friday night at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds Event Center in Golden, Colorado as Sparta Sports and Entertainment hosted their first combat sports event of the year.

January 24th marked night one of a two-night fight series for the promotion with Friday showcasing the sweet science of boxing and Saturday displaying MMA and kickboxing. 

“Tonight was fire,” Sparta CEO Jeff Cisneros said. “LT Nelson vs. Shawn McCalman was exactly what we expected, and the whole card was just unbelievable. I’m just really proud of all of the fighters tonight.” 

A combination of twelve amateur and professional boxing matches were sanctioned by the Colorado State Athletic Commission in front of a full house of fans enjoying tacos and ice-cold beer.

Performances of the Night

KO of the Night: Seth “One Shot One Kill” Rodenbaugh

Pro Fight of the Night: Milton Roque vs Carl “The Cyclone” Rogers

Amateur Fight of the Night: Maliah “Mrs. Pac-Man” Paculan vs Bailey Winters

Now let’s take a detailed look at the main card:

“The Amazing” Shawn McCalman vs LT “Smash” Nelson

In the main event, LT “Smash” Nelson duked it out with “The Amazing” Shawn McCalman in a 160 lb bout that delivered action worth the price of admission. The undefeated McCalman was able to outlast the South African native, Nelson, who has seen the big stage in Bellator MMA and Glory Kickboxing.

McCalman, a boxing purist, showed tactical precision in the first round, scoring a knockdown against the kickboxing and MMA vet.

Nelson threw no shortage of power shots to start the second round; however, fatigue from missed shots appeared to set in for “Smash” as he left himself open for a variety of slick counter punches that McCalman landed with Deadshot accuracy.

Nelson was able to catch a second wind in the third round and started to land punches at his most efficient rate of the contest, even backing McCalman into the ropes multiple times. McCalman was able to survive the adversity and make it to the next round. 

“Smash” began to Smash in the fourth round until he walked into a lead left hook hand that sent him stumbling back to the canvas for a knockdown. McCalman remained calm under fire and was able to use his footwork to move in and out of exchanges cleanly.

Nelson was the aggressor in the fifth, knowing that he needed a knockout to win, though his punches were flat-footed. McCalman managed to slip enough to avoid heavy damage while delivering vicious counters that knocked Nelson’s mouthpiece out. McCalman threw a very late punch that landed after the bell as well.

While Nelson showed a tremendous amount of heart, it was not enough for “The Amazing” Shawn McCalman. McCalman won the 165 lb title with the unanimous decision win.

Jesus Vasquez Jr. vs Robert “Red Hot” Franckel 

Jesus Vasquez Jr. was light on his feet and put on a boxing clinic in the co-main event. He cleanly jabbed his way in and out of exchanges with a beautiful blend that led to openings for power punches getting mixed in. 

Franckel threw a lot of punches but did not find a home for them most of the time. Vasquez appeared to be way too fast for the Wiley vet early on.

In the second, Franckel started to settle in by connecting on a series of left hands. This success in the round was short-lived, though, as the speed and pace of the 11-years-younger Vasquez was once again just too much for the 63 fight veteran. 

Vasquez knocked the mouthpiece out of Franckel’s mouth to start the third round. The young, undefeated prospect continued to sit in the driver’s seat throughout the round while even doing some dancing for the capacity crowd.

Vasquez’s corner called for him to work the jab in the fourth, and he did just that. Vasquez touched Franckel with shots that noticeably sent the vet backward three times in the round. Franckel attempted to swing his way out of adversity, but the movement from his opponent was just too much to do any real damage. 

Vasquez was feeling himself in the fifth and was seemingly able to land combinations at will. 

“Red Hot” Franckel came out red hot in the sixth and landed some of his most significant damage of the night. Franckel pressured to turn it into a brawl and Vasquez obliged. Franckel jaw-jacked Vasquez a few times in the round, likely giving him a 10-point round on the judges’ scorecards.

To no surprise, Vasquez Jr. won by unanimous decision and retained his undefeated status.

Alejandro Ibarra vs Stevie Marquez 

Stevie Marquez, a 40-year-old brawler, ate a lot of punches from the younger and longer Ibarra but was explosive and violent with his hooks. Early on, both fighters landed a shot after the bell, leaving Marquez’s cornerman and A Family Affair coach, Fidel Martinez, screaming across the squared circle to Ibarra’s corner.

Marquez walked through a flurry of shots in the second with his hands down, shaking his head at Ibarra. Shortly after, Marquez molly whopped Ibarra with a hook that sent him crashing to the canvas. After stumbling, Ibarra was able to make it to his feet as the bell rang to conclude the second round.

Marquez came out with bulldog pressure in the third, standing in the pocket and showing some tactical head movement, avoiding the big shot. Ibarra touched Marquez throughout the round, but Marquez’s body language and posture indicated that he was not concerned with the power.

Ibarra landed punch after punch in the fourth, but Marquez ate the punches like 38 fight veteran and unloaded on the hooks to the head and body whenever Ibarra’s pace slowed up, and the opening presented itself. 

Ibarra and Marquez met in the middle to start the final round. Ibarra easily threw a minimum of two punches for everyone from Marquez, but the damage and power advantage was all Marquez. Marquez even managed to knock the Ibarra’s mouthpiece loose at one point.  

Despite the knockdown, Ibarra scored the unanimous decision.

Carl “The Cyclone” Rogers vs Milton Roque

Hailing from Durango, Mexico, Roque was crisp with the one and kept his distance, which kept him on the outside of the ring, but Rogers was effective in cutting him off and mixing in shots of his own for an even first two frames. 

Rogers held the center of the ring to start the third, although Roque was able to do damage effectively from the outside with his jab. Roque mixed in small combos, but nothing past three punches. Both fighters experienced adversity as they both inflicted shots that wiggled each other’s legs. In true showmanship fashion, each fighter danced it off, showing their footwork off to the crowd. 

Rogers’ head movement, footwork, and overall speed was impressive. Rogers connected on Roque’s chin with a punch that sent Roque stumbling back toward the ropes midway into the third, and he continued to turn up the heat to finish the round at that high pace.

Rogers continued to pressure Roque, putting on a show for the crowd raising his hands in the air between flashy combinations. Roque was still in the fight until the very end, landing a couple of counter hooks that made Rogers take a step back.

There was a mixed reaction from the crowd when Big Mo On The Mic announced the split decision from the judges. Roger’s ring control and forward pressure were likely significant factors in the final scoring.

The prelims set the tone for the main event at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds Event Center.

Seth “One Shot One Kill” Rodenbaugh vs Dean Risher

Rounding out the prelims, fans were able to see a first-round TKO in a bout that had “spectacle” all over.

Risher took the ring with long, hot pink hair. Rodenbaugh made the walk donning a getup that would make Apollo Creed proud and with a mullet that Billy Ray Cyrus could only dream of. Rodenbaugh, with a colossal display of American pride sporting Stars and Stripes trunks and an American flag calf tattoo, made quick work of Risher finishing him by TKO via three knockdown rule in the first round.

The 39-year-old was the aggressor from the opening bell and never let his foot off the gas until the referee waved off, ending the contest after the final knockdown.

Joaquin Gonzalez vs Justin Vashaw 

These big boys came out banging. The entire first round looked like a heavyweight Rock Em Sock Em Robots fight with each contestant taking a punch to give one.

The second round continued the high-octane war. Gonzalez appeared to land the heavier shots; however, it must be noted that Vashaw also stuck Gonzalez with damaging punches multiple times during the round.

Gonzalez found the mark early and often in the third. Still, in a gritty slugfest, Vashaw never backed down and was able to counter with precision, possibly winning the round effectively.

“I can take hits, and I can give them too,” Gonzalez said in his post-fight interview after scoring the win by decision. 

Maliah “Lady PacMan” Paculan vs Bailey Winters

First things first, these ladies threw down in a battle that had the whole crowd on their feet. Paculan lived up to the nickname, unloading power punches at a high clip like Manny Pacquiao. Paculan was at a considerable reach disadvantage; however, she connected on Winters’ chin with a lead hook from southpaw. She continued to change levels well throughout the round, finding her way inside the reach of Winters.

Winters was technically sound with her footwork, precise with her punches, and landed with accuracy, but Paculan had the visibly more damaging shots.

The second round saw the ladies came out swinging for the fences, with both fighters trading shots for an evenly matched round.

Winters’ strong footwork had her dancing her way in and out of the pocket, while landing the jab and using her left hand to gauge the distance for power shots with the right.

Paculan stunned Winters with an overhand against the ropes to start the third round, but she was able to swing herself out of it before she recovered and began to land combos of her own. This was an absolute slugfest until the final bell, resulting in the largest pop from the crowd the entire evening.

The 19-year-old Paculan picked up a win by unanimous decision in her boxing debut, and told Big Mo On The Mic she plans to go to, “The top.”

Joel Moreno vs Dylan Milroy 

Moreno sported some slick Colorado flag boxing shoes and was the aggressor through the first round, scoring a knockdown at the end of the first round.

Milroy sprinted across the ring to start the second. Milroy connected on a left hook to the body that boomed throughout the arena, but Moreno survived the storm and swung himself out of taking more damage by chipping away at the body of Milroy. Once Milroy started to respect the body shots, Moreno went to the head and made Melroy get on his bike.

Moreno appeared to be calm and collected with a high level of composure, even during times of adversity in the round where Milroy was bringing heat. 

Moreno matched Milroy’s energy and shot out of a cannon to start the third round, appearing to be looking for a finish right away. Moreno led off a barrage of damage with an uppercut before a right overhand hurt Milroy. Credit Milroy for continuing to press forward through damage, but Moreno was the unanimous victor 30-27.

Anthony Torres vs Ramiro Figueroa 

Torres was quick with the jab and drew first blood almost immediately in the opening round.

Figueroa stood tall in the pocket and returned fire to keep himself in it, but his punches were almost as if he was pulling on every shot. Figueroa was timid with his entry and paid the price with a stiff jab every time he left his guard open

Despite the damage, Figueroa had an incredible chin and continued to march forward returning fire and getting stronger as the second round came to a close.

Figueroa got his legs underneath him and came out with both barrels blazing in the third, landing strong shots and no longer timid with his attack. 

Torres continued to stick his jab, but he may have punched himself out earlier in the fight. Figueroa finished with heavy volume that spoke to how much heart he showed after having his face pounded like a cheap steak in the first round. 

The early action and damage from Torres earned him the nod from the judges in a unanimous decision.

Great scrap overall. 

Jose Valdez vs Brandon Turner Frazier heavyweight

In an amateur heavyweight matchup, Frazier sprinted off the blocks with a heavy onslaught of punches in bunches that led to a knockdown inside the first minute of the first round. Valdez recovered nicely from the knockdown to land some bombs of his own, making Frazier respect his power, to close out the round.

Both men threw a lot of volume and were still visibly winded to start the second round; however, Frazier continued to push the pace. Valdez was crisp with the combo body-body-head and mixed in a healthy serving of uppercuts.

Frazier connected on a high percentage of straight shots in the second, but he missed the mark on most of the hooks he was throwing at the end of two, much to Valdez’s credit with solid head movement.

Valdez appeared to be exhausted on the stool in between rounds two and three, but came out with his foot on the gas and his head down pressuring Frazier. Valdez’s gameplan was to get in tight and make the larger man fight in a phone booth, thus neutralizing the reach difference.

Frazier was able to parry and counter shots at an efficient rate through the first minute of the third round, but Valdez’s pressure was relentless. Valdez found his mark often in that last half of the third round and somehow finished the fight as strong as he started.

Frazier and Valdez both had their hand raised as the judges ruled the fight a Draw.

-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

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