Steven Peterson found a weakness and exposed it.
Repeated takedowns, heavy hips and steady, opportunistic ground-and-pound carried Peterson to a unanimous decision over the previously unbeaten Irwin Rivera in the Legacy Fighting Championship 46 headliner on Friday at the Allen Event Center in Allen, Texas. All three cageside judges arrived at the same verdict: 29-28 for Peterson (13-4), who has won five straight fights.
Rivera (4-1) was superior in many of the standup exchanges -- he sat down “Ocho” with an overhand right that resulted in a nasty gash on the right cheek in the first round -- but had issues staying upright. Peterson struck for takedowns in all three rounds and successfully navigated the Blackzilians prospect’s guard, advancing to the mounted crucifix in the first round and full mount in the second. Rivera made a final bid for a victory in round three, where he punched with conviction and uncorked a jumping knee, but a Peterson takedown with a little less than a minute to go sealed his fate.
In the middleweight co-main event, multiple-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion Rafael Lovato Jr. submitted Kevin Holland with a first-round rear-naked choke. Fighting on just two days’ notice, Holland (3-2) tapped 84 seconds into round one.
Lovato (2-0) absorbed a few push kicks from the 22-year-old Travis Lutter disciple and dragged him to the ground. Holland was no match for the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt on the mat. Lovato moved to his back and then full mount before returning to the back, securing his position with a body triangle. A palm-to-palm rear-naked choke came next, followed by the inevitable tapout.
Meanwhile, unbeaten Brazilian prospect Ricardo Lucas Ramos submitted Cody Walker with a first-round triangle armbar in a featured featherweight battle. Walker (5-3) conceded defeat 2:39 into round one, the setback halting his modest two-fight winning streak.
Ramos (8-0) excelled in the transitions. The Black Sheep MMA export twice advanced to Walker’s back and forced him to answer one threat after another, refusing to let him breathe. Midway through the first round, Ramos caught a triangle choke in a scramble, tightened and adjusted the technique through a series of escape attempts and later extended Walker’s arm for the tapout.
The 20-year-old Ramos has finished seven of his first eight opponents, six of them inside one round.
Elsewhere, surging Octagon MMA standout Jason Sampson disposed of an overmatched Archie Lowe with mounted ground-and-pound less than a minute in the first round of their catchweight tilt at 130 pounds. Sampson (13-1) brought it to a close 54 seconds into round one.
Lowe (6-7) never stood a chance. Sampson executed a takedown inside the first 20 seconds, climbed to mount and unleashed a torrent of punches and hammerfists that prompted referee Steve Armstrong to act. The 33-year-old has rattled off five consecutive victories, four of them finishes.
In other action, King of the Cage vet Victor Reyna (6-2) took care of Andrew Parker (6-2) with punches 4:50 into the first round of their welterweight encounter; Octagon MMA rep George Pacurariu (10-4) withstood a late surge from Eliazar Rodriguez (7-5) and pocketed a unanimous decision in their three-round catchweight clash at 150 pounds, drawing 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 scores from the judges; and Bellator MMA alum Sean Holden (4-1) submitted Dakotah Atnip (0-1) with a rear-naked choke with a rear-naked choke 3:14 into the first round of their welterweight scrap.