As the days draw closer to the arrival of Bellator MMA to roll into the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, the news of more local participants is continuing to rise.
Bellator 91 has already been confirmed to be promoting some big time locals. As SWFight.com earlier confirmed Santa Fe’s Joshua Montoya would be facing former Bellator title contender Ed West, and the participation of Josh Lanier and Lenny Lovato Jr.
In the past several days, many more fighters have been confirmed for the event including a surprise signing of a world champion boxer which will now mean Bellator will feature top pound for pound prize fighter and Albuquerque’s own Holly Holm (2-0 MMA). It will come as a surprise to many as the rumors of a bout being held in Las Vegas against rival Cecilia Braekhus were a very hot topic. As the fight fizzled, Braekhus has already been scheduled to fight Mia St-John and now Holm’s is expected to make her return to mixed martial arts.
No opponent has been confirmed at this time; however the return to the cage will mark Holm’s first MMA fight since September of 2011 when she easily beat down veteran Jan Finney with kicks, all the way from the opening bell to the fight ending liver-kick. While many fight fans may think of Holm as a boxing-oriented MMA striker, being under the tutelage of famed kickboxer and coach, Mike Winklejohn her standup skills have been displayed brilliantly in her two first MMA fights.
While Holm may be the most relevant news in context of combat sports, Bellator 91 will also feature a star from Northern New Mexico. Angelo Sanchez (12-3) will end his thirteen month layoff and bring with him into the Bellator cage his four fight win streak. While squeezing in boxing to MMA he has also opened up his own gym in Pojoaque, New Mexico. His MMA career had taken a back seat. Bellator 91 will be a new door opening for the “San-I Warrior” as he looks to revamp his already successful career.
Standing in front of him will be Mean 1 MMA fighter Kevin Croom (7-4). In contrast to his opponent, Croom will be coming off a short six week turnaround as he just recently fought and won a bout under the RFA banner. The bout should be compelling as it is rare for two fighters of notable names from in-state gyms to match up.
As previously announced, Joshua Montoya will represent Rio Rancho’s Judgement MMA in Bellator action. Joining him will be teammate Adrian Cruz (3-0) who continues his rise up the prospect ladder, heating up after three straight wins. The two bantamweights are amongst the most talented lighter weight fighters we have in our area and with the duo in camp together, we can expect two very prepared fighters.
Expected as Cruz’s opponent is Jackson-Winklejohn’s Nick Gonzales (3-0). Much alike the Sanchez/Croom match up; it is rare to see to see the better fighters in a city from rival gyms against one another. Especially when the stakes are so high for two fighters with identical records looking to break out from the pack of talented prospects the state is blessed with.
This may very well be the most interesting bout of the evening next to the main event. The two stylistically are matched in a way where the fight could be considered dead even on paper and should make for an intriguing battle inside the cage. Cruz will hold the strength in wrestling and power while Gonzales will be noted for being the more efficient grappler and while he lacks the power Cruz possesses in the striking game, he more then makes up for it with crisp technique.
Stay tuned to SWFight.com for more fight coverage and Bellator 91 match up breakdowns and be sure to get your tickets to support all the New Mexico talent on February 28th, at Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.