Luis Palomino is on a tear. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Luis Palomino is a dangerous man.
The former Championship Fighting Alliance titleholder staked his claim as a potential No. 1 contender in the World Series of Fighting lightweight division, as he knocked out the previously unbeaten Lewis Gonzalez with a first-round knee strike and follow-up punches in the WSOF 12 headliner on Saturday at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Palomino (23-9, 2-0 WSOF) brought it to a close 4:42 into round one.
Outgunned on the feet and unable to land his desired takedown, Gonzalez (9-1, 1-1 WSOF) was reduced to little more than a sitting duck. Palomino targeted his legs with kicks and floored him with a left hook before opening a cut on his scalp with a follow-up volley. Later, the 33-year-old Peruvian went high after another leg kick, his knee striking Gonzalez in the head. The Californian collapsed to the canvas, where Palomino finished it with a quick burst of punches.
Markes Halts Skid, Outduels Butterfield
Former Shooto Americas champion and Ultimate Fighting Championship castaway Ronny Markes threw the brakes on a two-fight losing streak, as he secured a unanimous decision against Cully Butterfield in the light heavyweight co-main event. All three judges scored it the same: 29-28 for Markes (15-3, 1-0 WSOF).
Markes set the tone with three first-round takedowns. The 26-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt repeatedly attached himself to Butterfield’s back, and though a submission failed to materialize, the outcome was never in doubt; Markes’ late second-round flurry of punches on the flattened-out Wisconsin native provided the most significant offense of the fight. Butterfield (13-4, 0-1 WSOF) did his best work in the third round, where he escaped from the bottom, assumed top position and let his ground-and-pound do the rest. For Butterfield, it was a case of too little too late.
Mutapcic Hands Tiller First Defeat
Onetime Maximum Fighting Championship titleholder Elvis Mutapcic utilized repeated takedowns, stifling topside grappling and elbow-laden ground-and-pound in notching a unanimous verdict over the previously unbeaten Kelvin Tiller in a featured catchweight match at 195 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it for Mutapcic (14-3, 1-1 WSOF): 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.
Outside of an early first-round takedown and a few submission attempts from his back, Tiller (6-1, 0-1 WSOF) was a non-factor. Mutapcic executed takedowns in all three rounds, achieving full mount once and moving to the mounted crucifix position three different times.
The 28-year-old sealed his latest victory inside the first minute of round three, where he drove Tiller to the ground under the threat of a guillotine, settled in top position and went to work with short punches and elbows.
Hempleman Denies Olympic Medalist Vila
A steady stream of jabs, heavy leg kicks and sneaky right uppercuts carried former King of the Cage champion Brandon Hempleman to a unanimous decision against Alexis Vila in a bantamweight showcase. Hempleman (10-2, 1-1 WSOF) swept the scorecards with 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27 marks.
Vila (14-5, 1-2 WSOF) tagged his counterpart with power punches on occasion, but Hempleman threw more and landed more throughout their 15-minute encounter. He also did not surrender a single takedown to the 1996 Olympic bronze medalist.
Hempleman picked up his pace in the second and third rounds, perhaps sensing fatigue taking hold on the 43-year-old Cuban. His persistence paid.
Hempleman, 27, has won seven of his last eight bouts.
Unbeaten Sayles Downs Hansen
Undefeated Alliance MMA prospect Matt Sayles recorded his third win in as many appearances, as he picked up a unanimous decision over Bryson Hansen in a featured bantamweight affair. All three cageside judges arrived at the same verdict: 29-28 for Sayles (3-0, 1-0 WSOF).
Hansen (7-2, 1-1 WSOF) nearly finished it in the first round, where he floored the 20-year-old Californian with a sharp straight left and followed up with an unanswered burst of punches along the fence. Sayles withstood the assault and forced the Xtreme Couture representative to dig deeper into his reserves.
Over the final 10 minutes, Sayles kicked effectively to the head, body and legs, as he kept his adversary off-balance with variety in his standup and relentless movement. Hansen executed a takedown late in round three, but his efforts did not amount to much and were not nearly enough to sway the judges to his side.
Prelims: Montoya Stops Spicuzza Inside First Round
In preliminary action, Gladiator Challenge alum Lucas Montoya (7-3, 1-0 WSOF) put away Jimmy Spicuzza (5-2, 2-1 WSOF) with punches 4:11 into the first round of their lightweight tilt; Danny Davis Jr. (10-8-1, 2-0 WSOF) took a unanimous verdict from Wand Fight Team’s Jorge Lopez (11-5, 0-1 WSOF), earning 29-28 marks across the board in their welterweight battle; Adam Acquaviva (2-1, 1-1 WSOF) captured a split decision -- 29-28, 29-28, 28-29 -- over Cody Maltais (0-1, 0-1 WSOF) in their scrap at 135 pounds; and Syndicate MMA prospect Bryson Gutches (3-0, 1-0 WSOF) submitted Soslan Abanokov (4-2, 0-1 WSOF) with a rear-naked choke 67 seconds into round two of their featherweight clash.