HIGHLAND, Calif. -- Keeping up his ever-busy schedule, Tony Lopez
successfully defended his King of
the Cage heavyweight title for the second time in less than two
weeks against Victorville, Calif.’s Jason
Walraven in the headliner of Thursday’s KOTC
“Hardcore” at the San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino.
Though ambitiously scheduled to feature three title fights,
“Hardcore” was defined by concise, decisive bouts between sturdy
vets and inexperienced upstarts, embodied in the Lopez-Walraven
Walraven, fighting out of Joe
Cobra Kai gym, grounded the champion early but could not keep
the savvy Lopez down long. Lopez sprawled on the next takedown
attempt and stunned Walraven with a sweeping elbow to the side of
his head. With Walraven on the ropes, Lopez spun around to mount
and unleashed an unanswered series of punches until referee Mike
Beltran called a stop to the bout at 2:48 of round one.
Lopez, who defended his title against Cody East in
Okla., on April 14, now stands at 31-8 and is undefeated in his
Originally scheduled to fight former 160-pound champion Dom O’Grady,
former KOTC welterweight champion David Gomez
sought to recapture his title against late replacement Matt Conte,
who failed to make weight and was thus unable to vie for the title
in his own right.
The extra weight was clearly visible on the out-of-shape Las Vegas
fighter, though it hindered him little as he pounced quickly with a
takedown on Gomez. However, when Gomez reversed into top position,
Conte was nigh-immobile. From there, the Shark Tank product would
lay down a barrage of unanswered if not devastating punches to
Conte’s head until referee Nelson Hamilton saw fit to halt the bout
at just 2:05 of the first round, giving Gomez his second reign as a
King of the Cage titlist.
In December, undefeated
CQuence Jiu-Jitsu purple belt Sean
Strickland easily defeated veteran King of the Cage champion
Hunt but failed to make weight for the middleweight bout,
costing himself Hunt’s title in the process. The two met again to
bring closure to the title picture but began their rematch tepidly,
eliciting boos from the Highland audience.
The jeers seemed to prompt Perris, Calif.’s Strickland to bully the
Mash Fight Team rep to the mat, gaining side control in the
process. Strickland cut immediately to the chase, posturing up and
landing repeated punches to the side of the half-turned Hunt’s
head. Strickland’s long limbs provided the leverage necessary to
quickly turn out Hunt’s lights, prompting Mike Beltran to halt the
bout at 3:24 of the opening round.
Strickland’s second win over Hunt awarded him the title and further
extended his unbeaten mark to 9-0.
Cisneros found himself in the deepest water of his career,
going a full three rounds for the first time against Team Quest
Selva in their middleweight tilt.
The wildly popular Michael
Guymon pupil was unable to run through Selva as easily as he
might have been accustomed to, as Selva’s wrestling countered
Cisnero’s early takedown attempts and kept the two exchanging
strikes throughout the round. Cisneros found his groove in the
second frame, as the brawler established a surprising jab,
bloodying Selva and setting up takedowns as his foe faded. Cisneros
changed his strategy for the final round, repeatedly grounding
Selva and stifling him on the mat and even obtaining mount in the
bout’s waning moments.
Judges Cecil Peoples, Larry
Landless and Lester Griffin all saw the bout for Cisneros on
scores of 29-28, 29-27, and 30-26, respectively, moving his
unbeaten record to 6-0.
Former King of the Cage 135-pound title challenger Marvin
Garcia found his infamous aggression matched for the first
time, as Armenian transplant Gor
Mnatsakanyan went tit-for-tat with the United BJJ
representative. However, Mnatsakanyan would ultimately pay the
price for this approach, as Garcia’s ever-present overhand right
finally found the mark, dropping Mnatsaknyan in a heap. As a dazed
Mnatsaknyan attempted to armbar referee Beltran, Garcia walked away
with the emphatic knockout win 3:55 into the bout.
Looking to bounce back from a recent 1-5 skid, Richard
Schiller utilized a clinch-heavy attack to wear down Chris
Culley in their 150-pound catchweight bout. Schiller locked up
a guillotine choke in a second-round scramble, putting Culley to
sleep at 1:48 of round two.
Millenia MMA welterweight Stephen
Martinez made quick work of grappling-deficient Gabriel
Godly, tapping him with a reverse triangle armbar at 2:23 of
In the show’s opening bout, welterweight Sam Liera
survived a late first-round rally from John
Mercurio to TKO his foe with punches at 29 seconds of the