There is one thing that fight fans can certainly agree on and that is the admission that our fandom has led to watching hundreds of fights. We have handed over so many hours to the dedication of watching mixed martial arts. We can accurately decipher which fights are slow-paced, exciting, technical or brawls. Some enjoy a fight that is filled with technical transitions and ground work while others really like to see two guys throwing knockout punches and charging forward aggressively. After watching so many fights, each of us, depending on the style we most enjoy, start recognizing individual fights as our favorites or as fights that will always be memorable for their own reasons.
In rare instances, a fight will possess all facets of mixed martial arts in a very exciting manner. Fight fans of any preference can enjoy the fight in the striking range, in the clinch, in takedowns and in the grappling department. While those types of fights are rare, they aren’t always atop the sports biggest stage for millions to enjoy. Often they are buried in a regional circuit where marginally less will be able to enjoy the show.
One of those fights occurred at Bellator 91 on February 28th, and New Mexico fight fans were lucky enough to have the opportunity to watch it inside the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho. Jackson’s-Winklejohn’s Andres Quintana, fighting on short notice, would be matched up with Lovato Total Fitness fighter Russell Wilson, in what ended up being a back and forth affair and instant classic for MMA fights in New Mexico.
Wilson was initially matched up with Mean 1 MMA’s Felipe Chavez who would be returning after a three year hiatus from mixed martial arts. Chavez suffered an injury late in the training camp and was forced from the bout. In stepped Quintana who as fans know is not a stranger to short notice opportunities as he had one of the more shocking upsets of regional MMA last year against Yoatzin Meza.
The match up was stylistically a clash as Wilson was most known for the wrestling pedigree that typically comes out of Lovato Total Fitness and Quintana was more notable for his crisp kickboxing that had led the Roswell native to three career victories coming by way of knockout.
SWFight.com was working play-by-play inside the Santa Ana Star Center and this is what was captured by SWF cage side in the first round:
“Rd 1- Russell with a leg kick and Quintana immediately answers with his big strikes. Wilson shoots and Quintana lands knees on the fence. Wilson trying to be aggressive early. Quintana uses his length to stay out of range but Wilson shoots and scores with a takedown. Wilson works from the open guard. Quintana gets to the fence as Wilson works to keep him grounded. Quintana wall walks and Wilson is deep on a single leg. Scramble nearly earns Quintana a good position but Wilson stays on the high crotch. Quintana defends nicely and gets on top of Wilson. Quintana rolls slickly into a modified reverse triangle. Wilson explodes out. Quintana gets an arm bar but Wilson slides out and escapes, that was deep! Wilson ends the round with a guillotine. SWFight scores this close, nearly even but Wilson ends stronger for the 10-9.”
Five minutes in and we already have every facet of mixed martial arts covered. It is Wilson who scores on the feet first only to be answered back by the technical Quintana. While it doesn’t last long we quickly get a taste of what both fighters offer on the feet. After the two exchange on the feet, Wilson brings in his wrestling pedigree to the table and forces the fight to the fence where the fighters begin to work in the clinch. The fight would soon end up with Quintana grounded and Wilson working inside his guard.
The two young athletes within minutes of the first round bell have already showed the thousands in attendance that they are viable and dangerous in all areas. While Wilson would show his strength in the positional grappling department, Quintana would bring the crowd to a roar when he’d snatch Wilson into what appeared to be a modified reverse triangle. Quickly, Quintana would latch onto an escaping Wilson’s arm for an arm-bar attempt and the fight’s first epic moment was delivered.
Quintana would go “belly down” on his arm-bar attempt which usually spells disaster for opponents due to the increase in pressure that hyper extends the elbow joint. However, Wilson would remain strong in what appeared to be a very painful position and even motioned a “I could do this all day” to the referee to let him know he was not in immediate danger of tapping out.
Wilson would explode and rotate his body over Quintana’s in an acrobatic scramble that led to both fighters separate with only seconds left in the round. Wilson would look for a guillotine late to the end the round and due to the wrestling and pressure, SWFight.com would score the round in favor of Wilson despite Quintana’s late submission. The round was so action packed that many weren’t interested in the scoring of the round and more intrigued by the high energy and pace the two 145-pound fighters were pushing.
The second round delivered in every way the first one did, with exciting back and forth charges from each fighter and displays of all the skills in MMA. From the play-by-play:
“Rd 2 – Quintana starts the round aggressive but Wilson matches the pace. Quintana lands a stiff jab, then a left that sends Wilson into a takedown attempt. Quintana works a choke from head control in the sprawl. Back to the feet and Quintana lands a kick to the body. Wilson tiring and Quintana starts to land more frequent. Body shot lands for Wilson and a big knee answer by Quintana. Wilson once again gets Quintana down and they are along the fence. Wilson has a body lock and lands knees to the thigh if Quintana. Wilson hunts a double while Quintana lands short elbows along the fence. Wilson momentarily gets an ankle pick and now Wilson grinds into another slam. Quintana rolls into a knee bar but Wilson defends. SWFight scores it for Wilson 10-9.”
While Wilson began the fight with the momentum, it was Quintana who came out the fresher fighter in the second frame. Quintana would start setting up his jab and really establishing his kickboxing advantage. Wilson would look to wrestle after a left hand looked to stun him and at that point the momentum began shifting back to the Lovato Total Fitness fighter. Taking Quintana down multiple times including a nice slam towards the end of the round made it a very close round that was scored by SWFight as another round for Wilson.
At this point, despite the fact we scored it two rounds to zero in favor of Wilson it could have been anyone’s fight. The two rounds were so close and no matter what emphasis were used in the interpretation of the scoring criteria, both fighters were scoring effectively. Quintana was scoring on the feet landing the fights most effective strikes and Wilson was dictating where the fight took place and pushed the pace in the grappling.
The fight was a nail biter, one that showcased Wilson’s durability and strength as well as his offensive wrestling and grappling defense. Quintana was highlighted in the fight through his dynamic, technical striking and his constant pressure and offense even from his back. The crowd was heavily involved in the bout and all that was missing from this fight was a finish that would get the crowd to their feet in excitement.
Fight fans would only need to wait 30-seconds into the final round for that exclamation point to be stamped. From the live blog:
“Rd 3 – Quintana is caught by an overhand but lands a knee in the clinch that buckles Wilson. Quintana works ground and pound and Wilson stops intelligently defending prompting the referee stoppage. Impressive fight and win for Quintana who may have been losing two rounds to none.”
With a crushing knee in the clinch, Quintana would counter being hit with a huge punch from Wilson. Quintana would pull Wilson’s head down from the collar tie and would launch a knee upward, rocking Wilson and forcing him onto his heels. Quintana would force the hurt Wilson to the ground and would start working ground and pound atop his turtled, defenseless opponent. The referee would step in as Wilson stopped making any sort of effort to improve his bad position.
We had striking, clinching, wrestling and grappling rolled into the 11-minutes of action, both fighters found success against one another and the fight ended in dramatic fashion. Quintana would finish the fight after arguably losing two rounds and he would do so in the very clinch that he found himself losing in against the talented wrestler in Wilson. We saw adversity overcome when Wilson was in the first round submission and watched him turn the tide by really digging into the tank to win round two with very technical takedowns.
The bout showed the impressive talents of both fighters and while it was unfortunate one fighter had to take the loss in the epic clash, the bout was deserving of “Fight of the Night” status for the Bellator event. Quintana (4-1) propelled in popularity after the exciting fight and the intrigue to see Wilson (1-2) fight again grew tremendously throughout the regional New Mexico fight community.
SWFight.com was honored to be in attendance for one of the best fights regional New Mexico fight fans have ever been treated too. Hopefully, we will continue to see great things from the two young, phenomenal athletes.