Just about a week ago, King of the Cage “Future Legends 23” blew the roof off of the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Albuquerque, New Mexico with yet another action-packed event filled with great fights, knockouts, and submissions. After taking the week to reflect on the action, Southwest Fight News is prepared to announce the unofficial post-fight awards for the show.
While each category had several correct selections, we could only choose one fight for each post-fight award. At the end of the evening it was apparent immediately that this decision was going to be extremely difficult. The J5’s MMA gym went undefeated on the night and both Judgement MMA and FIT NHB sent out several fighters and received mostly successful results; in terms of out-of-state talent, the Durango MA gyms continued their success in the regional circuit of New Mexico with two wins.
Fight of the Night – Gerald Aldaco vs. Lamar Lee
I definitely struggled with this one because it could have easily been Sandoval/Castillo or Papas/Trevino. In fact, Judgement MMA could have swept these awards through their fighter’s performances. Instead, I went with J5’s Jerald Aldaco and Child Play MMA’s Lamar Lee because of how many “high” points the fight had. The round went two rounds, and the conclusion of the bout saw Aldaco lock in a fight ending arm-triangle choke.
The fight started with Lee knocking Aldaco down with a front kick to the body and was met with an aggressive flurry from Aldaco upon returning to his feet. It was as close as a first round could be with both fighters rising to the occasion to answer each other’s flurries and combinations and going nose-to-nose when it came to scoring points on the Judge’s scorecards. At one point, Lee’s corner called for a “Spartan Punch” which was in fact a Superman Punch and that got the crowd cheering. While I scored the fight 10-9 in favor of Lee, a 10-10 or a 10-9 for Aldaco are all correct scorecards as the fight was that close in the first three minutes.
In the second round, the first highlight came in the form of a lead hook met by a lead elbow and was capped off by simultaneous superman punches that culminated in Aldaco shooting in for the takedown.
The fight was shorter than some other candidates but it presented several highlight moments and for that, it stood out to me as the “Fight of the Night”.
Submission of the Night – Brent James
James wins this on default as his choke is as rare of a submission that you will see inside the cage. Judgement MMA’s Brent James scored a Von Flue Choke against his opponent and not only was it devastating, it was downright dominant. Upon watching the fight ending submission play out, it could be easy to confuse the Von Flue for the arm-triangle choke, but there is a world of difference.
The choke is the perfect defense and counter to a guillotine choke especially off of a takedown. MMA Wiki breaks down the choke:
The Von Flue Choke is a shoulder choke from side control. It is a defense against guillotine choke, a good one indeed. Passing the guard to side control with their arms still around your neck. Work an overhook on the wrist around your head and an underhook on their head. Locking your hands together shift your body weight through your shoulder into their neck.
In this specific instance, Brent James changed levels for a takedown and Victor Orquiz couldn’t stop the takedown but looked to counter with a guillotine choke. At this point, most fighters try to jump to side control to prevent the choke from being too dangerous. James would get his arm position correct for the Von Flue and apply the shoulder pressure. Almost instantly, Orquiz was unconscious and James walked away with his hand in the air.
A huge reason why this choke worked was that not a lot of people train this choke, either offensive or defensively, making the set-up difficult to recognize and due to the pressure of the choke, the submission’s execution comes extremely quick. It was an impressive showing from James and he only needed 25-seconds to get it done.
Knockout of the Night – Carlo Rodriguez
I believe this is a no-brainer as there was not a finish as emphatic and jaw-dropping as the head kick knockout of Mike Silva from Judgement MMA’s Carlo Rodriguez and this will make the second in a row for Rodriguez. In two career amateur outings, Rodriguez has notched two highlight reel knockouts and the fact that he is still a teenager makes the feat that much more impressive.
It was very apparent early on that Rodriguez owned the striking advantage over Mike Silva but that didn’t stop Rodriguez from impressing on the ground when Silva pushed for a takedown heavy offense. Rodriguez fought to get up from his back on several occasions and made Silva pay each time he found an opening to throw strikes. Rodriguez’s gas tank may have led to this victory as it seemed as if Silva wrestled himself tired and started to retreat from a charging Rodriguez who threw polished strikes in very tight combinations.
In the second frame, a clearly tired and retreating Silva made a fatal error on numerous occasions. Silva turned his back to Rodriguez while retreating instead of back pedaling and Rodriguez threw a well-timed head kick that landed on the throat/neck of Silva that rendered him out-cold before he even hit the mat. It was a powerful finish and impressive showing from Rodriguez who is slowly becoming one of the hottest amateur prospects in the area.
Performance of the Night – Charlie Williams
In another great showing, Charlie Williams was the “Performer of the Night” once again; in back-to-back showings, Williams was the fighter that most showed the intangibles of MMA to compliment the combat aspects. Williams has gone into deep waters on several occasions throughout his amateur career and on this night, Williams would close the show early with an emphatic knockout.
Williams did all the things that he is well-known for and added an emphatic finish to his resume. The poise and methodical nature of Williams showed to be his biggest asset once again, the FIT NHB fighter unleashed several kicks to opponent Juan Gandara. This time around, Williams owned the “Performance of the Night” because he showed yet another intangible in the form of resiliency. Gandara caught Williams flush with a punch that seemed to momentarily stun Williams and it was answered by a huge punch from Williams that sent Gandara’s mouthpiece flying and left him out on the mat. Williams would bring the show to screeching halt with a punch that brought the crowd to their feet.
Following up a fight card without a boring fight, Williams, whether he knew it or not was burdened the pressure of capping off a great night of MMA action. The crowd was already treated to excitement in each fight and Williams put a stamp on that buzz coming from the crowd. As the headlining act, Williams delivered the necessary excitement to make “Future Legends 23” a show completely successful for entertainment value.