Last night inside the Crowne Plaza Hotel, King of the Cage “Duke City” definitely put to test the room capacity as the venue was packed and as loud as ever for the professional/amateur fight card. King of the Cage has definitely made a home inside the ballroom within the newly renovated Crowne Plaza Hotel and consistently sells their shows out time and time again. The venue has hosted other shows in the past but King of the Cage is the only show that seems to completely pack the ballroom.
Usually these “day after” posts have a theme to start off the analysis but I cannot seem to put my finger on a central theme that outweighs the other significant themes emerging from the event. What I came up with is that King of the Cage may be the most community friendly show in town. The promotion is not only hospitable to local fighters from all-around New Mexico and surrounding states, but they treat their local media tremendous and they always seem to send the fight fans in attendance off entertained with their exciting fight cards.
I plan on going in-depth in the coming weeks as to why I believe the fight scene in New Mexico is failing but it is at no fault to King of the Cage. They provide an avenue for amateurs of all skill level to get experience beneath their belts and they also have fight-cards such as “Duke City” where beginning professional fighters have the chance to get their feet wet without having to jump into a shark tank too early on in their career.
King of the Cage is essentially a promotion where local fighters have the opportunity to really establish their careers and set a trajectory for themselves going forward. A perfect example of that is Ray Borg who fought as an amateur for King of the Cage and moved to the professional ranks where King of the Cage was able to propel him to the next levels. Now, as most know, Borg is a standout UFC Flyweight with a ceiling seemingly without limit.
- FIT NHB’s Charlie Williams may be another exceptional example of the significance of the King of the Cage system. An accomplished amateur who captured more than a handful amateur victories made his pro debut last night and looked every bit the prepared fighter and very little like a debut fighter. Williams was poised and diligent in his offense and defense which led to a TKO finish.
- The ground game of Williams is what has always sold me on his talent level. Just about anyone knows how to hold top position and land strikes but Williams has a very technical bottom game. When opponent Veloz put Williams on his back, a crafty use of the cage allowed Williams to spring himself up and over Veloz to gain top control. That reversal led to the fight ending sequence as Williams wore Veloz out from his guard before opening up with strikes.
- Five minute rounds will benefit Williams as a professional. Williams has a very patient approach to attacking and as an amateur three minutes weren’t enough which led to a lot of decision victories. With five minutes Williams can remain patient which baits his opponents to making mistakes. The time of victory last night for Williams came at 3:24 of the first round.
- It was a marginal upset last night when Harvey Park submitted John Rozema in the first round. If I was an odds maker I would have the line pretty stacked in favor of Rozema, maybe a line of Rozema -400/Park +750. Rozema is the hard hitter that was supposed to touch Park and put him down. And even though Rozema did in fact do that, it was the grappling of Park that played the role of equalizer.
- Once the fight hit the mat, Rozema played with fire one too many times as the chain submission grappling of Park put Rozema in danger seemingly every moment as he transitioned from submission to submission. I saw a triangle, an arm-triangle, an armbar, an omoplata, a modified omoplata that looked like an inverted crucifix and a knee bar. It ended up being the rear-naked choke that got the tap out from Rozema but Park was a submission wizard last night.
- The setback is the first of Rozema’s pro career and he should be able to bounce back easily being that this is still so early in his career but he will need to know going forward that the blueprint is laid out for future opponents. In his lone pro and amateur losses, Rozema was grounded and submitted. With tremendous knockout power and technical striking talents his opponents will not want to test punches with him.
- While John Rozema didn’t pick up the “W”, his brother Anthony did and he did so convincingly and in dominant form. Even though Rozema went up in weight to contest Austin Wourms, Wourms was out of his league almost immediately as the insanely tough Rozema walked through any offense he attempted to mount and barraged Wourms with strikes on the feet and ground.
- Judgement MMA went 2-1 on the night with the third fight being the victory of Jesse Sandoval who I would like to suggest nicknaming Mr. Fight of the Night. Sandoval is seemingly in an entertaining battle every time he fights and every promoter in town should be penciling him in as a fighter to place on their cards. It seems as if King of the Cage knows they have a hot commodity and hopefully keeps Sandoval busy on their fight cards.
- Sandoval is an interesting story. He started his career 0-3 and has now climbed back to .500 with a record of 4-4 inside the cage. He has won three of his last four including a win under the Legacy FC banner. It seems like every fight Sandoval gets better and in every outing he overcomes some sort of adversity. Last night, Sandoval overcame a deep triangle choke in the first round. That choke was so puzzling because for the entirety of the round, Sandoval was trapped in a choke but was winning the round by landing hard knees while being choked and punches to the head and body.
- The host gym of FIT NHB went 4-2 on the night, with the aforementioned Charlie Williams picking up the most significant win of the bunch. Fellow professional debut-er George Clynes notched the next most meaningful win of the bunch (*Wild Bunch pun). The former Marine Clynes came out of the gate like an angry, angry man by barraging his opponent and notching a win before the fight fans could get a few blinks in. The power Clynes hit opponent Denton Comyford with was scary violent and despite eating punches the entire exchange, Clynes knocked Comyford unconscious before he hit the mat.
- Carlos Montano and Roberto Nater picked up the other two wins and did so in their own convincing fashion. Nater countered an early flying kick and won quickly while Montano was involved in a scramble-fest that led to him earning a second round submission victory.
- In defeat, and call me bias but Ruby Santos (our very own, a SWFight photographer and friend to us all) was the most impressive fighter in terms of grit and heart. In her first cage action she was hit with very hard punches for three rounds, lost a contact between rounds and saw an eye get completely shut due to swelling and still continue to press forward. The wrestling background was obvious for Santos as she was able to get takedowns regardless if she was rocked or tired which was best shown when Santos even fell to her butt and still exploded up to get a double leg takedown.
- Allison Price showed blistering straight punches as she bolstered Santos for all three rounds. Despite being taken down every round Price was able to get to her feet and re-adjust the game plan accordingly. In the second, Price timed a takedown and blasted a hard knee right to the face of Santos and it completely changed the momentum of the fight all the way to the fight ending triangle choke in the third round.
- Bronson Mitchell showed why he is talked very highly of in the fight community and still very young in his 20’s, Mitchell looked every bit a seasoned amateur last night. Mitchell moved his head to avoid a flurry from David Carter and got a huge feet-over-head takedown and moved to mount swiftly to get into position for the TKO finish.
That’s a wrap for our King of the Cage “Duke City” coverage! Follow us on Facebook for the complete event gallery to be posted this afternoon.