David Gomez (right) outdueled Brendan Tierney to claim KOTC gold. | Photo: Kris Parker/Sherdog.com
HIGHLAND, Calif. -- The Shark Tank's David Gomez outlasted Brendan Tierney over five rounds to claim the vacant King of the Cage welterweight title on Thursday night, capping off KOTC's latest offering at the San Manuel Casino, "Next Generation."
Tierney, fighting on two weeks' notice, was the first to put his stamp on the fight, unloading heavy leather on Gomez, wobbling the former Grappling Quest medalist with a series of hard blows against several sides of the cage. But, by round’s end Tierney’s punches had visibly lost steam, his arms growing heavier with every strike, his nose bleeding.
The second was lopsided as a refreshed Gomez unloaded a myriad of punches on the Thomas Denny-trained Tierney, further bloodying his nose and beginning what would end up as massive swelling on the Bellator veteran’s face.
Following the third round, the venue’s lights went out after the third round, leaving the arena darkened for much longer than the duration of the normal one-minute period between rounds. The fight was eventually restarted with the arena’s lights on in configuration more suited to business conferences before returning to normal prior to the start of the fight’s fifth round.
Ultimately, despite Gomez’s offensive output slowing considerably by that point, Tierney’s corner felt that it unnecessary for their man to continue on, and they threw in the towel, signaling defeat for their charge at 2:37 of the final round.
“Don’t ever stop the f---ing fight on me," Tierney pleaded in the postfight. "I want a rematch. Please. Please."
For his part, the new champion gave thanks not only to trainer Eddy Millis, but credited Antonio McKee and Jesse Juarez of the Bodyshop Fitness Team with the recent improvements to his wrestling game.
In a bantamweight title eliminator, Riverside, Calif.'s Marvin Garcia utilized a haphazard approach to his grappling and striking, but earned a unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) over veteran Shad Smith, moving his pro mark to 6-0.
Garcia took numerous risks with his guillotine attempts and wild swinging, but Smith was unable to stave off the attack. With the shutout win, the United BJJ representative earns the next crack at newly-crowned KOTC 135-pound champion Jared Papazian, fresh off a title win over Dream veteran Abel Cullum just one week ago.
No one exemplified the idea extolled by the event’s “Next Generation” tagline than grappling standout Chris Holdsworth who easily tapped Covina, Calif.’s Juan Rivas in a 139-pound contest.
Holdsworth, a Marc Laimon BJJ black belt, quickly obtained top position and mount shortly thereafter. Rivas managed to buck and roll into Holdsworth guard, but quickly found himself trapped in an armbar from the BJJ black belt. An attempt to flip out of the submission proved fruitless, and soon Rivas was tapping out at 1:29 of the first round.
With the win, the 23-year-old Holdsworth improves his mark to a perfect 3-0 to start his MMA career.
Riding a wave of hype due to his unique size and sizable mohawk, 6-foot-3 lightweight Kris Armbrister was brought to earth by Millenia MMA's Chris Culley, who handed the Lakeside, Calif., native his first loss.
Armbrister found himself consistently unable to find his punching range, which allowed the southpaw Culley to counter with devastating counter right hooks, the first of which severely bloodied Armbrister’s nose. The second right hook was even more devastating, catching a wild Armbrister clean across the chin.
The follow-up ground-and-pound was perfunctory, and referee Larry Landless called a stop to the action at 2:51 of the first round.
Moreno Valley’s Jason Gonzales staved off the takedown attempts of Chris Camacho in their lightweight bout, punishing the former the former University of Tennessee-Chattanooga defensive back with left hooks and knees to the midsection. Channeling the recent craze, Gonzales sent Camacho’s mouthguard flying early in the third round with a devastating front kick.
The following break in action to retrieve his equipment proved to be the end of his night, as the ringside physician seemed him unfit to continue, giving Gonzales the TKO win 33 seconds into the final round.
Antonio McKee disciple Kana Hyatt snapped a four-fight losing streak with a quick submission win over Riverside-based Bobby Sanchez in a 140-pound bout. Hyatt hunted for a submission early with a tight guillotine attempt, but it was ultimately a triangle choke that put Sanchez to sleep at 1:55 of the very first round.
Local heavyweight favorite Kyle York played to the crowd early and often, taunting Ryan Williams between striking flurries that kept the Team Voodoo representative off balance. York fatigued as the bout wore on, culminating in a decisive Williams third round. Judges Mike Beltran and Stephen Davis both saw it 29-28 for Williams, while “Judo” Gene LeBell curiously scored the bout 29-28 for York, giving Williams a split decision victory.
Las Vegas welterweight "Cowboy" Matt Conte dominated Phoenix's Gabe Lopez, dropping Lopez early and obtaining back control in every round. Lopez fought off numerous armbar and rear-naked choke attempts, as Conte took 30-27 scores across the board.