ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- With four wins in as many Jackson’s MMA Series
appearances, Matt Leyva
had established himself as a successful mainstay of the promotion
founded by his hometown -- and world renowned -- gym.
Birchak made sure he wasn’t victim No. 5, as the Apex MMA
product stopped Leyva (9-3) in the first round of their featured
bantamweight encounter at the Jackson's
MMA Series 10 main event on Saturday night.
Birchak (9-1) shocked the vocal throng of Leyva supporters at the
Tingley Coliseum by flooring the former United States Marine with a
right hand and swarming with a series of unanswered follow-up
punches on the ground, forcing referee Richard Espinoza to call a
halt to the contest at the 1:22 mark of the opening frame.
It was Birchak’s third victory of 2012, and the fact that it came
in front of a decorated ensemble of Leyva’s Jackson’s MMA teammates
made it that much sweeter for the 26-year-old Arizonan.
“You got all of these great people right here, dudes that I aspire
to be,” Birchak said. “I knew Matt was tough coming in here.
Albuquerque don’t like me (right now).”
Birchak took his opponent down twice in bout’s the early going, but
both times Leyva was able to return to his feet and respond with
solid strikes. Birchak was unrelenting with his pressure, however,
and it wasn’t much longer before he found the opening he
“At the end I wanted to change levels. I threw an inside kick,
double jab, changed levels and came up with a two -- and I put it
right on the chin. After that I just unloaded -- that’s what I do,”
After more than a year away from the cage, Conrad
Padilla made a successful return to action with a unanimous
decision triumph (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) over Rolando
Cespedes (2-2) in the evening’s co-main event.
“It’s been over a year, so I was shaking off the cobwebs bad. I was
a bunch of nerves in the back,” Padilla said after the bout. “I
tried to do what I could to finish it, but I said, ‘Man, let’s just
put on a good show.”
That they did. Padilla controlled most of the opening frame with
dirty boxing and ground-and-pound, while Cespedes’ moment of note
came when he connected on a spinning-back fist.
Things got more interesting for Padilla in round two. The Jackson’s
MMA product had to survive one particularly harrowing moment when
Cespedes dropped him with a big left hand and rushed to finish the
contest with strikes on the ground. Cespedes then transitioned to a
rear-naked choke, but Padilla was able to escape from the maneuver,
leaving the Team Tompkins fighter spent from the assault.
Cespedes offered little in the way of offense in round three, while
Padilla periodically worked his opponent’s body with effective
punches and kicks to seal his fourth victory in as many
Elsewhere, Mike Justus
weathered an early assault from Team Tompkins representative
Cespedes to earn a technical knockout victory in the third
round of a lightweight conflict.
Cespedes (0-2) rushed his 6-foot-4 opponent at the outset of the
bout, throwing haymakers with ill intent and diving into Justus’
guard with furious ground-and-pound. Whenever Justus (2-1)
attempted to control distance with a kick, Cespedes countered with
power punches and takedown attempts.
The Las Vegas resident could not maintain his frantic work rate for
the entirety of the contest. In round two, Justus landed a hard
kick to the body early, and continued to punish Cespedes with
elbows – both from his back and in tie-ups.
Cespedes’ movement slowed to a near-halt in the final frame, and
Justus was eventually able to take his back. The Jackson’s MMA
representative was unable to secure a rear-naked choke, but a
consistent barrage of strikes forced referee Craig
Zellner to stop the bout at the 4:28 mark.
The card’s originally scheduled co-main event between Jackson’s MMA
flyweight prospect Nick Urso and
Grant County Punishers member Dave Ruelez
was scrapped when Ruelez arrived at Friday’s weigh-ins well above
the agreed-upon 125-pound limit.
The six-bout amateur card was highlighted by a bantamweight clash
Dodson, the younger brother of UFC flyweight No. 1 contender
Dodson, and Team Wildman protégé Scott
Ingram. Quick transitions and timely ground-and-pound would
ultimately win the day for Dodson, who captured a unanimous
decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) over the Coloradoan.
Earlier, Jackson’s MMA’s Jon Sparks
starched Team Wildman’s Allen
Washington with a head kick, then sealed the deal with a
triangle choke from his back 68 seconds into their 150-pound
catch-weight clash, while fellow Jackson’s MMA representative
Clynes kept Silver City, N.M.’s Randy Ray
Sanchez at bay on the feet to earn a unanimous decision (30-27,
30-27, 30-27) at 155 pounds.
Jackson’s MMA member Ricky
Esquibel outstruck and outgrappled Team Wildman export Nick De
Fiore to earn a split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29) in a
flyweight tussle, and Team Wildman representative Matt
Johnson utilized aggressive ground-and-pound and solid
submission defense to capture a hard-fought split decision triumph
(30-27, 29-28, 28-29) over Jackson’s MMA product Michael Asmar in
the evening’s opening bout.