Matt Schnell has his revenge — and the gold to go with it.
Schnell gave submission specialist Klayton Mai a taste of his own medicine in the Legacy Fighting Championship 52 headliner at the Golden Nugget Casino in Lake Charles, La., on Friday night, tapping his foe with an armbar 2:14 into the opening stanza to capture the promotion’s interim 125-pound strap.
With the win, the American Top Team product avenged a 2014 loss to Mai and set up a future title unification bout with reigning flyweight champion Damacio Page.
“I think it’s an awesome fight. I’ve got all the respect in the world for Damacio,” Schnell said.”He’s a hard puncher, but these guys don’t thump like me, man. Stay in the pocket with me and take a dirt nap.”
Schnell, who submitted to a Mai guillotine choke in their initial meeting at Legacy FC 32, rocked his foe early from the Thai clinch, attacking with knees and uppercuts before flooring “The Python” with a right hand. From there, Schnell temporarily lost position on the canvas, but he quickly recovered to secure the fight-ending armbar in an ensuing scramble. Schnell believes it was the clinch exchange that left Mai vulnerable.
“I think he was hurt, because I know he’s a great grappler,” Schnell said. “I’ve got great jiu-jitsu though. I’m a complete fighter.”
In the evening’s co-main event, Thomas Webb earned the biggest victory of his career to date, upsetting three-time UFC veteran Sean Soriano in a lightweight tilt. A volley of unanswered punches from full mount brought a halt to the contest 1:25 into the final frame, giving Soriano (9-4) four losses in his last five outings.
“My strongest point is my wrestling. i know he’s a great striker and a great wrester, but I knew I could expose him, and that’s what I did today,” Webb said.
Soriano, a heavy favorite entering the bout, appeared to be on his way to victory in the opening stanza when he knocked Webb (10-3) off balance with a right hand, took him down and went to work with elbows from top position. Webb didn’t wilt, however, and he seized momentum over the final two rounds, getting the better of scrambles on the ground and moving to full mount on multiple occasions. The Baton Rouge, La., native took a fading Soriano down within the first 15 seconds of round three, and battered his foe from there to earn the finish.
“When he caught me and rocked me, that was his best shot, and he couldn’t finish me,” Webb said. “I knew now matter what he threw, he couldn’t finish me. I’ve got heart for days.”
Elsewhere, Ryan Spann took advantage of his significant height and reach advantage to submit Aaron Davis in the opening stanza of a featured light heavyweight bout. The 6-foot-5 Spann (9-2) trapped his foe with a standing guillotine on a failed takedown shot and choked him unconscious at the 2:53 mark of the frame.
“Superman” kept Davis (7-7) at a safe distance up until the finish, connecting with long straight punches and chopping at his man’s legs with low kicks. Spann also found the range on a couple of high kicks, although Davis managed to stay on his feet after absorbing the blows. After the victory, Spann professed a desire to challenge for both the 205- and 185-pound titles in Legacy FC.
Constant offensive pressure and clinical body work were a winning combination for Trent Meaux, as the Progressive Martial Arts representative put Cody Williams away with a left kick to the liver 2:59 into the second round of their bantamweight showdown. Williams crumpled to the canvas immediately after the final blow, forcing referee Jordan Bass to intervene on his behalf.
Meaux’s attacks to the body had a cumulative effect on Williams (8-7), who was saved by the bell after absorbing a liver kick at the end of the opening frame. The Beaumont, Texas, native took Meaux (4-1) down early in round two, but once the action returned to the feet, time was limited for Williams. Meaux staggered him with a left hand, backed his foe into the cage and ripped the body with punches and kicks, setting the stage for the final, decisive blow.
Trevin Giles brutalized Brendan Allen with ground-and-pound before submitting his opponent with a rear-naked choke in the second round of their middleweight scrap. The end came at the 1:47 mark of the period, as Allen simultaneously flailed his legs as he tapped out.
The first round served as a forecast of what was to come, as Giles (5-0) repeatedly punished the Rich Clementi protege for surrendering position in hopes of securing a submission. Round two brought more of the same. Giles made Allen (2-1) pay for a failed heel hook try by blasting his adversary with punches, hammerfists and elbows on the ground. Eventually, Allen surrendered his back, and Giles was able to capitalize.
In the evening’s opening main card bout, the Blackzilians’ Irwin Rivera finally put away an extremely durable Jose Ceja late in the third round of their bantamweight scrap. A rear-naked choke followed a ferocious barrage of ground-and-pound at the 4:45 mark of the frame, forcing an exhausted Ceja to ask out of the fight.
Rivera (5-1) nearly called it a night early. He dropped Ceja (3-2) three times in the opening stanza, including once with a flying knee that appeared to connect flush on his opponent’s chin. Somehow Ceja remained conscious, and he was able to briefly slow the pace of the bout behind takedowns and ground-and-pound in round two. Rivera turned the tide for good by connecting with another flying knee in the third round, which he followed with a premature knockout celebration as Ceja returned to his feet. Shortly thereafter, Rivera was able to secure the fight-ending choke after bloodying his foe with punches and elbows on the canvas.