In a state so full of combat history, fight fans in New Mexico have seen their fair share of interesting and unique occurrences happening in the combat scene all-around the state. When the Combat Xtreme promotion started their marketing of “Unfinished Business”, the details weren’t unlike other shows the area had seen before. The show was held this past Saturday in Belen, a small town 35-minutes South of Albuquerque on the grounds of the town’s Sheriffs Posse. The event was held outside and featured the rematch between Gene Perez and Mikey Lovato.
The event as of Friday, July 18th featured nine bouts with the Perez family being represented well atop the fight card. Being that Belen is home to the Perez Fighting Systems, it came as no surprise that the show would feature Gene Perez and members of the gym’s fight team. However, come weigh-in time, things started to take a turn from your conventional small city regional event to a very odd event that seemed to lack solid direction.
Initial Fight Card (According to Combat Xtreme’s Facebook):
Mikey Lovato vs Gene Perez
Derek Perez vs Joe Salazar
Danny Perez vs Maurice Jackson
Levi Lucero vs Juan Aranda
Josh Lenere vs Mano Otero
Tyler Para vs Curtis Thomson
Jacob Tosh vs Juan Pirella
Maxwell Spillers vs Edward Lamb
Jose Cuerto vs Jesus Esqubero
Fight Card After Weigh-Ins:
Mikey Lovato vs Gene Perez
Derek Perez vs Joe Salazar * Joe Salazar was reported to have not shown up prepared with the proper paperwork to be licensed to fight.
Danny Perez vs Maurice Jackson Manuel Ramirez vs. Maurice Jackson *Ramirez showed up to weigh-in, but reportedly backed out on his fight later that evening.
Levi Lucero vs Juan Aranda *Reportedly late to weigh-ins, never an official announcement as to whether or not Aranda made it to Belen.
Josh Lenere vs Mano Otero *Apparently meant to read “Josh Lanier”, who has gone on social media to notify everyone he never had a bout agreement with the promotion.
Tyler Para vs Curtis Thomson *Both fighters reportedly no showed weigh-ins
Jacob Tosh vs Juan Pirella Jacob Tosh vs. Paul Horton
Maxwell Spillers vs Edward Lamb
Jose Cuerto vs Jesus Esqubero *The fight never occurred, no official announcement was made
The event was down to three fights, the main event was still on and two of the undercard bouts would compliment the featured match-up. Before the fights began, the controversy was already rampant on Facebook and social media as to what was happening in Belen.
Lovato Total Fitness Jiu Jitsu Coach Josh Lanier, whose name was apparently misspelled and misused during marketing efforts from Combat Xtreme, went on his Facebook page to make a statement on what was happening.
“Attention all Big Country fans and friends. My name was put on a fight card without my permission or consent for tonight. Every one has been contacting me today for tickets. Please be advised if I would have signed to fight a contracted bout that I would have showed up on weight, and promoted the show as I always have. I take matters like this very serious as I have worked hard to build up the Big Country brand for my New Mexico friends, family and fans. That being said I apologize if you got tickets to see me fight.” – Josh Lanier
With so many fights cancelled, it was hard to believe that the fight card was allowed to continue. While research has begun as to what the minimum stipulations are for an event to occur under the rules of the New Mexico Athletic Commission, it is hard to comprehend an event only featuring three bouts. For Lutrell’s MMA fighter Maurice Jackson, this is another occurrence in a series of unfortunate events. At a Triple A MMA show last month, Jackson’s opponent no-showed weigh-ins leaving him opponent-less. This time around, a similar situation occurred and Jackson detailed his side of the story on his Facebook page.
“You gotta be (explicit) kidding me my opponent shows up looks at me goes home text back to the promoter that he’s not fighting this is (explicit).” – Maurice Jackson
The other two odd occurrences from an event that had several involved the Texas-based Juan Aranda who was scheduled to fight Levi Lucero and Joe Salazar who was paired with Derek Perez. According to reports, Juan Aranda did not show up to weigh-ins because he was still traveling from Texas. Southwest Fight News was able to speak with Aranda and Liucero who both offered puzzling statements that only adds to the oddity of the fight card.
“I didn’t take that fight, they still had me on the card? I didn’t take the fight or tell them I was going, I wasn’t even thinking about it.” – Juan Aranda
“It sucks because I trained my ass off for this fight, the rematch against Juan Aranda would have been great to see. I was ready and on weight.” – Levi Lucero
And when it came to scrapping the Salazar/Perez fight, it was reported that Salazar did in fact show up to weigh-in but did not have completed documentation for a proper eye exam. Typically, a promoter will require those documents prior to weigh-ins unless the promoter feels the comfort in the rapport with a fighter. Regardless, the need to have contracts and necessary documents completed in advance prevents any similar scenarios from happening.
From a comment on Combat Xtreme’s Facebook, Salazar posted a brief statement.
“I came back sent bw (bloodwork) rite (right) but what can I do heartbromen (heart-broken) id love a shot at derrek” (sic) – Joseph Salazar
The same problem occurred on fight night as well. Prior to Paul Horton’s entering the cage, there was a delay in the action to clear up some confusion as to whether or not Horton’s paperwork had been completed. With all that going down between weigh-ins and the start of the first fight, it seems as if the dust has yet to settle completely as there are still so many questions unanswered. As of time of publish, the promoter for Combat Xtreme, Joey Garcia has declined an invitation to make a statement or several statements on the event.
Garcia’s only public statement can be found on the Combat Xtreme Facebook page, it reads:
“In today’s world we all move at a really fast pace and it’s hard to guarantee a fight card. We are disappointed that some of our scheduled fighters failed to show up prepared and physically able. As hard as we tried to fill the card with last minute noticed we just couldn’t get it together. We apologize to fans and we extend our offer for 15 dollars off the next event. Thank you all so much for the support and patience.” – Joey Garcia
It would be unfair to ignore the action that did take place inside the cage on Saturday night. While rain did interrupt some of the fluidity of the show, six performers did what they were asked to do and that is to put on a fight. Two fighters from Luttrell’s MMA showed up to Belen with one mission, to get the victory and they would return to Albuquerque in celebration.
Amateur standout Max Spiller got an early, powerful takedown that rattled the cage and would eventually sneak his way to an armbar victory. Spiller is one of the bright young prospects currently training out of Chris Luttrell’s gym and is definitely one of those fighters that puts on performances to treat the fight fans. Spiller’s teammate Paul Horton put on a similarly impressive performance by showing very poised ground transitions until he was able to find the opening for an armbar of his own.
The main event featured the Legacy FC 30 rematch between Gene Perez and Mikey Lovato. The first fight ended in a close and controversial judge’s decision and the fight card built on that premise with its title of “Unfinished Business”. The business was finished in halfway through the very first round when Perez overwhelmed Lovato to a TKO finish. It was the pressure and accurate strikes of Perez that dictated the action and some well-timed shots to Lovato as he used the cage to stand-up from a bad position spelled disaster for the legendary “Burque Bulldog”.
The victory gives Perez his first winning streak as a professional and inches him closer to getting above the .500 mark. At 5-6, Perez is quickly becoming known as one of our region’s toughest match-ups and now owns two victories over a true pioneer of New Mexico MMA. Perez has already been in the cage with UFC fighter Ray Borg, top prospect Nate Vorel, and local regional veterans Nick Gonzales and Grant Hobbs. It will be very interesting to see where Perez goes from here and if he is able to use these two victories to make a run in the regional circuit.
After the fight, Lovato would announce his retirement via Facebook and close the final chapter on a truly amazing career. While Lovato never saw the bright lights of MMA’s big shows, “The Burque Bulldog” was a huge reason why local MMA took off in the late 2000’s. Lovato was one of Albuquerque’s first iconic combat sports figures and while he fell on a losing streak to end his career, the impressive six fight win streak during 2008 and 2009 was definitely as exciting as it gets in regional MMA.
Lovato’s retirement statement:
“Good morning everyone, well last night things did not go as planned Gene Perez was the better man, my hats off to him good job winning the fight! I want to thank everyone for there support. Mentally I’m stronger than ever, but physically unfortunately my body is having problems keeping up with my heart and soul. I alway knew there would be a day I would have to come to terms with that. I can comfo…rtably say I am done stepping into the cage. As I said before there is no other rush like it and I’ve had a lot of fun. To be honest I’m going to gain 100 pounds and never think of cutting weight again that I will never miss. I am also excited to devote all my time to my wrestling team and of course to my beautiful family. So if you need help with wrestling come my way!!! Again thanks to everyone who has helped and supported me along the way!!! Everyone have a great day!!!” – Mikey Lovato