Former Bellator champion Joe Soto wants a shot in the UFC. | Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog.com
Terrion Ware and Joe Soto were supposed to battle for bantamweight gold at Tachi Palace Fights 20 on Thursday night.
When Ware failed to make weight on Wednesday, the headliner was changed to a three-round , non-title affair. That didn’t prevent Soto from making a statement, as he submitted his foe with a north-south choke in the third round.
Ware came out in the first looking to take advantage of his length, but Soto was able to score a takedown. “Flash” got to his feet, but Soto immediately took his back and began working for a rear-naked choke. Ware was able to weather the storm, fighting off the maneuver and scoring with a flurry of punches.
The second saw Soto dominate from top position for the better part of five minutes, throwing strikes to the head with little pause in between. This resulted in a moment where Ware seemed to be in jeopardy, but he was able to fight through a tight north-south choke.
The final round began with Soto again taking Ware to the mat and passing his foe’s guard with ease. From the mount, Soto went for the arm-triangle choke early, putting pressure on the neck of his opponent. Ware gave a signal that he was okay and writhed free from the hold. Soto postured upright and Ware briefly attempted a triangle choke, but Soto passed easily into another north-south choke. That was all she wrote, as Ware asked out of the contest at the 2:48 mark of round three.
“I am trying to get in [to the UFC]. I’m knocking,” Soto said in a post-fight interview. “I’m finishing everybody. I want to go to the big show; I am tired of fighting here. I don’t know what I have to do to get that call.”
In the evening’s co-main event, Strikeforce, Bellator and King of the Cage veteran Ricky Legere Jr. captured the Tachi Palace welterweight title with a submission triumph against Nate Loughran. Coming into the bout, Loughran had lost only one fight, falling to Tim Credeur at UFC “Fight for the Troops” in 2008.
The title tilt went back and forth from the start. Loughran seemed to be a lacking in the cardio department, however, as he was visibly breathing heavily in the opening frame. In upset fashion, Legere Jr. was able to secure a rear-naked choke submission after transitioning from a heel hook attempt by Loughran. The Redlands, Calif., native forced his foe to tap out at the 2:51 mark of the third round.
“This win says a lot,” Legere Jr. said. “Nate is a tough opponent, but this win says I am at the top of my game. I love it.”
WEC veteran Antonio Banuelos showed off his strong right hand early in a flyweight contest against the unbeaten Joby Sanchez, rocking his foe multiple times in the first round.
The tide turned in the second frame, however, when Sanchez rocked Banuelos with a shot that dropped him to his knees.
Sanchez followed up quickly with a knee that landed square to the head, which he then parlayed with blatant shots to the back of Banuelos’ head. Referee Jason McCoy briefly halted the fight but did not take a point away from Sanchez. When the fight continued, Banuelos continued to take more punishment, resulting in cornerman John Hackleman throwing in the towel for his fighter. In the end, Sanchez kept his perfect record intact, securing the technical knockout victory 2:41 into the second round.
Ryan Hollis was originally supposed to fight for Legacy Fighting Championship in July, but after some promotional issues, he took a flyweight title scrap against Hector Sandoval at TPF 20 on five days’ notice.
Sandoval had won seven consecutive bouts coming in to his matchup with Hollins, and that streak didn’t end on Thursday. The Team Alpha Male product was able to dominate with his wrestling and maintain top control for the better part of 20 minutes before the fifth frame.
At the beginning of the round, Hollins attempted to avoid a leg kick from Sandoval when referee Jason McCoy accidentally stepped on Hollins’ foot. After a break in the action, Hollins agreed to continue and managed to have his most impressive round of the fight. Hollins rocked Sandoval at multiple points, but in the end it wasn’t enough, as Sandoval cruised to a unanimous decision victory.
In his last TPF appearance, Castle Williams put on a show, finishing Cameron Ramirez with a spinning-back kick to the body in the opening frame at TPF 19. On Thursday, The Pit team member overcame an obvious 10-8 first round against Drake Boen to secure an arm-triangle choke 3:46 into the second frame of their catch-weight clash.
Josue Lugo stopped professional boxer Manuel Quezada with a guillotine choke 34 seconds into their heavyweight bout. “Mr. Incredible” is unbeaten in his last four outings.
Angel DeAnda returned to action against Matt Lagler following two consecutive losses in the World Series of Fighting promotion. Lagler took the fight on two days notice and it showed. DeAnda was able to utilize his sharp boxing and some stiff leg kicks to open his opponent up, pressing him against the cage. DeAnda opened up in the final minute, raining a flurry down on Lagler and forcing a stoppage at the 4:54 mark of the initial stanza.
Mike Martin spent a year away from the sport after being hit by a drunk driver. His return to the cage was short lived, as Josh Powell needed just 12 seconds to end their heavyweight showdown. Powell opened with a kick to the body that had Martin reeling before following up with a barrage of vicious knees to the side of his opponent to garner the stoppage.
Earlier, Alberto Arreola utilized his wrestling to secure a rear-naked choke victory 1:56 into the second round of his lightweight clash with Victor Tubera, while Navy officer Zeth Martin finished off Kevin Koy with an uppercut 47 seconds into their catch-weight encounter.