Villasenor Earns Hard-Fought Decision Victory Over Liles at Jackson’s MMA Series 8


ISLETA PUEBLO, N.M. – For five minutes, Donnie Liles played a pretty good villain.

After dominating the opening round of his bout with hometown favorite Joey Villasenor in the main event of the Jackson's MMA Series 8 on Saturday night, Liles took an opportunity to savor the moment.

As a visibly exhausted Villasenor rested on his stool, the Rough House MMA product bounced, smiled and glared in the direction of the opposite corner, as if to announce that he had only just begun. As it turned out, Liles celebrated too soon -- because it was Villasenor who would have the last laugh.

The Jackson’s MMA product used superior standup and solid takedown defense to take control in the bout’s final two rounds, earning a unanimous verdict for his second victory at welterweight. All three cageside judges scored the fight 29-28 in favor of the former Strikeforce, EliteXC and Pride Fighting Championships veteran.

“We knew what his strengths were gonna be; I knew I was gonna have to defend the takedowns,” Villasenor said after the bout. “It was really a feeling-out process, seeing where he was open in the first round.”

Liles asserted himself quickly in the opening frame, securing a single leg takedown and landing punches while inside the New Mexican’s guard. As the round continued, Liles landed several punishing knees as Villasenor moved to all fours.

Villasenor rebounded in round two, stalking Liles while throwing his right hand and working the body effectively. “Smokin’” landed the majority of the effective offense throughout the period and had Liles in retreat mode on a couple occasions.

Round three began more evenly, but the Jackson’s MMA representative turned the tide with a solid overhand right midway through the frame. From there, Villasenor continued to have the edge on the feet, landing enough combinations to earn the nod from the judges.

Making the victory more impressive was that the 39-fight veteran battled illness for much of the latter part of his fight camp.

“I had bronchitis for three weeks, I thought I was gonna have to drop this fight,” Villasenor said. “That was the toughest training camp I ever had. I thought I was gonna have to cut this fight loose.”

With the win, the 36 year old improves to 2-1 since dropping to welterweight. He defeated Chuck Parmelee in his 170-pound debut last October before falling to Jim Wallhead via first-round KO in December. At the moment, Villasenor isn’t looking too far ahead.

“Right now, I’m just gonna enjoy this win. This physically and mentally broke my body down, with the training camp and being ill for three weeks straight,” he said.

Vicious ground-and-pound carried Matt Leyva to his fourth victory in five fights – all under the Jackson’s Series banner -- against Michael Chupa in the evening’s co-headliner. The beginning of the end came as Chupa clung desperately to Leyva’s leg in hopes of a takedown. The Jackson’s MMA product resisted the effort, locking in a guillotine choke in the process.

Leyva maintained the hold as the two combatants went to the canvas. He then moved to half guard and unleashed a barrage of short punches and elbows. Leyva’s assault gradually increased in intensity until Chupa verbally tapped at the 3:39 mark of the opening frame.

“I had him down….and I postured straight up and came down with full force,” Leyva said. “That kind of opened his eyes a little bit, and that was it.”

Earlier, Hunter Tucker kept his undefeated record intact, submitting El Paso native J.R. Sotelo with a guillotine choke at 2:07 of the opening stanza in their featherweight encounter. The Jackson’s MMA representative followed a high kick with a shot, quickly taking Sotelo down. Sotelo briefly returned to his feet, only to be driven right back down to the mat.

As he fought to escape the position, Sotelo left his neck exposed, and Tucker wasted little time in capitalizing on the error.

“Honestly I thought it was super deep for a while,” Tucker said of the choke. “I had to just stay on it, because I knew he had to be choking.”

In the first bout on the evening’s main card, Richard Villa submitted Rocky Ramirez with what looked to be a modified key lock at 4:17 of the second round. However, Villa himself was at a loss for words to describe the maneuver that elicited a tapout from his opponent.

“I don’t even know {what it’s called),” said the Roswell, N.M., native. “I do it in practice. I didn’t think it was gonna work on him, but I saw it and took it.”

Villa controlled much of the opening frame on the ground, scoring three takedowns and hunting for a rear-naked choke from Ramirez’s back.

In round two, Ramirez appeared to take control after stuffing a takedown and moving into Villa’s guard. He was only able to land a few short punches before Villa reversed the position, moved to side control and secured the fight-ending submission.

Five amateur bouts began the night: Lindsay Jones of Jackson’s MMA took a unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) over Denver, Colo.’s J.J. Aldrich at flyweight, while Andrew Tenneson submitted Sammy Silva with a heel hook at 2:59 of the opening frame in a 155-pound affair.

Also, Jackson’s Jon Sparks forced Greg Chavez to tap out to a crossface at 1:51 of the third frame in a lightweight contest; Jackson’s MMA representative Ray Martinez dispatched Anthony, N.M, native Johnny Guillen with a rear-naked choke in 58 seconds; and Jackson’s MMA’s Erin McDougall overwhelmed Wyoming’s Stacey Vega with strikes in just 1:11 in a 135-pound woman’s bout.

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