UFC and Bellator veteran Jay Hieron made the most of his debut with Legacy Fighting Championship, but not without some controversy.
Friday night at Legacy FC 12 inside Houston’s Arena Theatre, the 35-year-old Hieron showed off his kickboxing skills against Brazilian welterweight Romario Manoel da Silva before the Xtreme Couture fighter took the fight to the mat in the second and submitted Da Silva with a textbook brabo choke.
However, Da Silva contested the stoppage, saying after the fight that he never tapped nor gave a verbal submission to referee Kevin Hancock. “Junior Killer,” a late replacement for popular Texan fighter Mike Bronzoulis, jumped right up after Hieron let go of the choke and immediately disputed the result.
In his post-fight interview, Hieron said he had the choke on tight and kept squeezing, even telling Hanccock that da Silva might be out because he quit moving. Regardless, Hieron outclassed da Silva in all phases of the fight, picking up his first win his first outing since Bellator champ Ben Askren edged him out in their title bout last November, ending his 10-fight winning streak.
The fight served as the night’s main event, as another popular local, Chad Robichaux, missed weight the day before for his flyweight championship fight with UFC vet Will Campuzano. The fight was still going to take place as a non-championship, catchweight bout, but kidney issues connected with the weight cut forced the bout’s cancelation. Elsewhere, BJJ world champion and all-star grappler Robert Drysdale made quick work of Isaac Villanueva, locking up an armbar to force the tap just 89 seconds seconds into the fight. Villanueva barely had time to walk forward when Drysdale shot for a single-leg and took the fight to the mat. Drysdale showed off his world-class grappling skills by easily taking the back, threatening the choke, then transitioning to a slick armbar.
Villanueva landed a solid punch that swelled Drysdale's eye, but that would be the only offense the Houston native would be able to muster before the American-born BJJ wiz moved to 4-0.
Cage Warriors heavyweight champion and Bellator vet D.J. Linderman used superior wrestling and tremendous pressure to earn a second-round TKO win over Dale Mitchell in their heavyweight contest.
Linderman wasted no time going for the takedown in the second round but Mitchell's sprawl was true and he nearly locked up a guillotine choke. However, once “Da Protégé” got Mitchlel on the mat, he then took the back, flattened him out and finished the fight with heavy shots to both sides of Mitchell's head, forcing Jon Schorle into action at 3:29 of the second round.
Middleweight Noel Ligon used superior stand up skills to score a unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) win over Artenas Young. Ligon took advantage of Young's tentative hands with good combinations and leg kicks. Arenas’ attempts to put Ligon on the mat were short-lived as Ligon quickly scrambled to his feet. The men were content to stand for the rest of the fight.
The third time was the charm for Brazilian bantamweight Alan Nascimento as he locked up a kneebar to submit Terry Ackerman in their 135-pound bout after much trying.
Nascimento tried for a leg lock in each of the previous two rounds, but Ackerman's defense stayed firm. He tagged "Puro Osso" with quick and accurate combinations throughout the fight, and also landed several takedowns. However, Nascimento fought well off his back using transitions to attack with leglock before the fight-ending kneebar at 3:19 of the final round.
In a thrilling 160-pound contest, Ray Blodget edged out Scotty Juarez by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28), while popular local Justin Reiswerg choked Cris Rucker out cold with a second-round triangle in their lightweight contest.
Lester Batres took out Danny Rodriguez in the third round of their middleweight contest with a rear-naked choke; Jared Chaffee punched out Jason Carter in round two at 135 pounds and in a pair of welterweight contests, Jeremy Morris made Levi West a second-round victim of the Jason Von Flue choke while Charles Ontiveros halted Mark Garcia in the second frame, as well.