This year’s Southwest Fight News “Fighter of the Year” is Andres Quintana (18-2).
In what has to be considered an incredible 12-months for the featherweight prospect representing Luttrell-Yee MMA, 2019 blessed “The Bullet” with a yearlong reveal of the 27-year old’s true talent and potential. Andres would end the year 5-0 despite getting his first fight in midway through the year in May and along the way became one of the top faces of the successful Combates MMA promotion.
And oh yeah, he won $100,000. Not too shabby.
Quintana competed in Combates Americas: Mexico vs. The World event in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico on May 18th against Marco Antonio “La Roca” Elpidio. Quintana entered the arena that night with a three fight win streak under the Combates banner and made no doubt by the end of the night of his standing as the best Featherweight in the company and arguably one of the best 145ers unsigned in the sport. Quintana started slow but dominated throughout en route to the unanimous decision nod by the judges.
Next up, Quintana would battle Erick Gonzales on September 28th in Long Beach, California as part of the Combates America: Road to Copa Combate event. The fight would be a qualifying fight for the duo to be part of the forthcoming Copa Combate tournament in which the winner would be rewarded with $100,000. The fight wouldn’t see the third minute of the first round as Quintana’s pressure was too much to handle and Gonzales would succumb to a rear-naked choke submission. The win would extend Quintana’s winning streak to five and qualify him for the Combates tournament.
The Copa Combate tournament would require the victorious fighter to fight three times in one night, a true throwback to the old days of MMA where one-night tournaments were a staple of the sport. The first round would be a one round fight, the second round would be three x three-minute rounds, and the final would be set for your typical five-minute round over the course of three rounds. It would be a grueling evening of battle for the fighters and Quintana would enter the event as one of the favorites to win the whole tournament.
December 7th would be the date of the Combates Americas: Copa Combate 2 and it would be held in the SaveMart Center in Fresno, California. The event was broadcast live on the new streaming service DAZN which is also the new home to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Bellator MMA.
Quintana would shine underneath the bright lights of the Copa Combate 2 event.
In the first round, Quintana would go the distance in his showdown in the first round by outpointing Marlon Gonzales. The fight was contested in a single round as per the tournament format and Quintana pushed the pace to notch the dominant performance. Quintana despite winning on each of the judge’s scorecards was considered the worst-for-wear by the commentators as most of the other victors in the quarterfinals finished their opponents quickly.
Quintana’s second round opponent was UFC fighter Guido Cannetti’s brother, Bruno Cannetti, who finished his first round opponent in 92-seconds. In fact, Cannetti carried that momentum into his tussle with Quintana as he swarmed the Roswell, New Mexico product early in the first round. “The Bullet” showcased his toughness after surviving the initial onslaught and delivered a barrage of strikes which would swiftly bring the referee stoppage.
In the finals, Quintana would showcase his heart, toughness, and most impressive his cardio while completing the improbable run through the tournament. In a finals that lasted three minutes, Quintana and foe Alejandro Flores threw down, with each fighter hurting the other in wild exchanges.
The end saw Flores hurt Quintana with a body kick and swarm Quintana along the fence. Quintana remained composed enough to use the aggressiveness of Flores to land a perfectly placed spinning back elbow causing Flores to hit the mat.
It was over. Quintana cemented himself as one of MMA’s best up-and-coming fighters and arguably the best Featherweight not signed by the UFC or Bellator.
Quintana capped off 2018 with his fifth win of the year, winner of the Copa Combate, recipient of the $100,000 prize, and our 2018 SWFight.com New Mexico Mixed Martial Artist of the Year.