John Castaneda Denies Gustavo Lopez Inaugural Combate Americas Bantamweight Title

By Mike Sloan Oct 14, 2016
John Castaneda scored a fourth-round technical knockout against Gustavo Lopez in the Combate Americas “Empire Rising” main event on Friday at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York.

Xtreme Couture’s Lopez was effective early behind the jab and nearly finished “Sexy Mexi” late in the first round. A booming right hand dropped Castaneda, but Lopez failed to close it out with the brabo choke and guillotine attempts that followed. Lopez kept control through round two, but in the third, he landed a second inadvertent kick to the groin, the foul costing him a one-point penalty.

The relentless Castaneda continue to apply pressure, with his counterpart tiring and bleeding from facial cuts in the fourth round. He accidentally poked Lopez in the eye during one of their exchanges, but it went unseen by referee Kevin MacDonald. Castaneda then teed off. Lopez tried to recover from a blistering right upstairs, as he escaped a guillotine and fished for a desperate armbar from his back. However, Castaneda was a man possessed. A wave of punches enveloped Lopez, forcing MacDonald to intervene at the 2:24 mark.

Because Castaneda missed weight for the match, he was ineligible to claim the inaugural Combate Americas bantamweight title. Had Lopez won, he would have been crowned champion.

In the co-headliner, Julian Marquez vanquished shopworn Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Matt Hamill in less than two minutes.

Hamill pressed the issue in search of a takedown, ducked in and scooped his opponent’s right leg. Unfortunately for “The Ultimate Fighter 3” alum, he left his chin exposed and paid the price by absorbing a short right hook. Hamill collapsed and turtled as Marquez pounced, unloading with a series of punches from the top. Referee Dan Miragliotta stepped in 1:22 into round one.

Meanwhile, Marc Stevens and Victor Reyna spent three grueling rounds engaging one another in the clinch. Stevens scored with a few takedowns, creating the distance he needed to secure a unanimous decision.

Finally, Jose Ceja knocked out rival Irwin Rivera in their rematch. The two men swarmed each other from the start, landing clean punches during wild exchanges. Ceja proved the more powerful striker. After he felled Rivera with a right hook, Ceja moved to mount and put him away with punches 4:22 into round one, evening their head-to-head series at 1-1.

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