Atomweights Paulina Granados and Stephanie Alba twice squared off during their amateur careers, with Granados prevailing via decision in both bouts. The outcome was no different in the pair’s first professional meeting, which served as the main event of Monday’s Combate Americas event in Los Angeles.
Alliance MMA product Granados (3-2) jumped out to an early lead when she floored Alba (3-1) with a left hook late in the first round. Although a takedown helped Alba’s cause in the second stanza, the 4-foot-11 fighter struggled to connect with strikes once Granados got back to her feet. Granados’ footwork and boxing allowed her to pepper Alba from range for much of the final 10 minutes.
It was a one-sided yet largely uneventful victory for Granados, though the judges’ scorecards were closer than one would imagine. In fact, judge Gene LeBell favored Alba in the fight by a score of 29-28. He was overruled, however, by judges Chris Crail and David Rathgeber, who scored the bout 30-27 and 29-28 for Granados, respectively.
The show was well and truly stolen by the evening’s co-main event, a 140-pound catchweight contest between Texas-based “Gallero” Ricardo Palacios and Colorado’s Brandon Royval.
Palacios (7-1) outlasted Royval (3-2) in a wild slugfest which left both men busted up and bloodied after 15 minutes of swinging for the fences. Royval showed an iron chin, but Palacios scored with the more effective punches and elbows to sway the favor of judges LeBell (30-26), Crail (30-27) and Rathgeber (29-28).
Another visiting Texan, Ray Rodriguez (10-4), eked out a split decision against Tachi Palace Fights veteran Art Arciniega (14-7) after three rounds at 145 pounds. Judges Crail and LeBell saw the fight 29-28 in favor of Rodriguez, while judge Rathgeber was the lone dissenter with a scorecard of 29-28 for “King Arthur.”
Bantamweight Gustavo Lopez (5-1) put on a punishing, ground-based performance in the style of the 135-pounders who cornered him, Miesha Tate and Bryan Caraway. Lopez gave no breathing room to Jackson-Wink MMA product Saul Elizondo (6-7), who was almost choked out in the opening round before succumbing to ground-and-pound at 4:07 of the second stanza.
Jacob Rosales (2-2) nearly put away Andrew Lagdaan (2-2) with numerous choke attempts in the first 10 minutes of their lightweight matchup, but Rosales ultimately had to settle for a unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27) after three dominant rounds.
In a back-and-forth bantamweight tilt, Cristobal Chavez-Davila (3-0) improved on his perfect record by narrowly outworking Mauricio Diaz (2-2) over three rounds, with all three judges scoring the bout 29-28 for “El Mosquito.”
Darrio Mobley (5-6) appeared to be cruising to a decision win over Joe Vidales (3-1) in their 200-pound catchweight bout -- until referee Herb Dean got involved. Late in round two, the veteran official stood up the fighters from full mount after deeming Mobley too inactive from top position. Vidales attacked with a huge right hand, dropping and then pounding out Mobley with only five seconds left in the frame.
In the evening’s flyweight opener, Benji Gomez (5-5) capitalized on the aggression of debuting pro Angel Oliveras (0-1), who spent the better part of 15 minutes walking straight into Gomez’s counter-punches. Judges Crail and Rathgeber saw the fight 30-27, while judge LeBell scored it 29-28, all in favor of Gomez.