Once Juliano Coutinho dragged Ashley Gooch into his world, it was only a matter of time before a new CES MMA heavyweight champion was crowned.
Coutinho snatched the title from Gooch with a second-round technical knockout victory in the CES MMA 45 headliner at the Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I., on Friday night. The end came at the 4:18 mark of round two, as Coutinho (8-3) landed approximately 10 unanswered punches from back mount.
Gooch (10-6) was able to remain upright in the opening stanza, as he fended off a pair of Coutinho takedown tries and began to find his rhythm with a stiff jab late in the period. However, the the tide turned in round two, as “Banana” landed a trio of takedowns on the 42-year-old MMA Lab representative. On the third of those takedowns, Coutinho swiftly moved to mount, forcing Gooch to give up his back. The Brazilian then flattened his opponent out and proceeded to pound away for the finish. Gooch protested referee Bryan Miner’s stoppage, but he was doing little to defend himself from Coutinho’s final barrage.
In the co-main event, Pedro Gonzalez used a tactical approach to dispatch Saul Almeida in an interim featherweight championship clash. All three cageside judges scored the five-round affair in favor of Gonzalez: 48-47, 50-45, 49-46. With the win, Gonzalez will eventually get a shot at reigning CES MMA 145-pound king Matt Bessette, who is recovering from a hand injury suffered at Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series 1.
The most notable offense in the early frames came in the form of low kicks from Gonzalez (13-5). The Redline Fight Sports product chopped away at his opponent’s lead leg, often allowing Almeida (19-9) to walk into his offense. Meanwhile, Almeida struggled to cut off the cage and land punches on his mobile adversary. Almeida was only able to counter effectively occasionally, bloodying Gonzalez’s nose at some point in the first three rounds.
Gonzalez authored perhaps his two most memorable moments in the championship frames. In round four, he caught Almeida’s leg and countered with a kick to the face that briefly dropped his foe to a knee. And in the final period, he froze “The Spider” with a liver kick in the round’s early moments. Almeida recovered and ended the stanza on Gonzalez’s back, but it wasn’t enough to earn him the nod on the scorecards.
Elsewhere, Nate Andrews capitalized on Bruce Boyington’s recklessness to earn a second-round submission victory in their lightweight bout. A triangle choke from Andrews (11-1) brought a halt to the contest at the 2:14 into the second round, giving “The Snake” his 11th career finish in 11 victories.
Boyington (14-11) spent much of the fight attempting to land an array of exotic spinning kicks. In round one, Andrews was able to move into top position after Boyington whiffed on a kick, and he spent the second half of the stanza hunting for a rear-naked choke. Boyington survived that position but again got careless after landing a takedown in the second stanza. As he attacked inside of his opponent’s guard, Andrews was able to frame the fight-ending maneuver and secure the tapout with relative ease.
In earlier action: Brandon Seyler (7-5-1) tapped out Kris Moutinho (4-1) with a guillotine choke 3:08 into the opening stanza; Gary Balletto Jr. (4-1) defeated Nick Alley (1-2) via technical knockout 58 seconds into round two at welterweight and Richie Santiago (5-0) submitted Miguel Restrepo (4-4-1) via rear-naked choke at the 3:41 mark of round two in a catch-weight affair.