First in a series of MMA and Muay Thai shows at Pala Event Center

Mixed Martial Artists came very close to being injured when going through the ropes Saturday. Photo: Jim Wyatt

On Saturday, February 26, the first of a monthly series of WCK amateur Muay Thai/Kickboxing and MMA competitions took place. If we are to compare this offering with their first show held October 2, 2010 on the same Pala Indian Reservation, I’m certain most of Saturday’s competitors would agree the show was a bit of a downgrade.


At intermission there was a fun karate demonstration from the students of Bob Chaney Mixed Martial Arts of Murrieta, Ca. Photo: Jim Wyatt

At the first show, there were 10 bouts, five title matches and one super fight. Saturday’s show had one championship fight and  several very entertaining matches. October’s show was held in the Pala Casino’s main ballroom where the lighting had an impact and was more awe-inspiring. Saturday’s show was held at Pala’s Event Center where the seating was excellent but the lighting less impressive, somewhat like attending a high school basketball game. Whoever was responsible for the timekeeping chores they had rounds going well beyond the normal time. Without a foghorn or bell to signal an end of a round, the fighters came close to injury. Also, there was a safety issue for the MMA fighters who went without the availability of a MMA cage to prevent them from falling out of the ring. More than a few fighters went through the ropes. The awards also regressed to a simple medal. One competitor joked, “What are they going to give us next, a certificate on the back of a restaurant menu?”

The one thing that wasn’t lacking was the passion and fervor of the people showcasing their talents.

Brandon Morris (right) of Team Quest in Temecula had no problem defeating Johnny Lyon (left) of Arena MMA in Point Loma in Bout #1. Photo: Jim Wyatt

In Bout #1, Brandon Morris of Team Quest, Temecula, CA. made quick work (1:24 of the first round) of Johnny Lyon of The Arena Muay Thai Gym in San Diego, CA. Morris, multifaceted, landed some impressive blows as he got inside Lyon’s kicking offense.

In Bout #2 Tony Juan (left) started out fast and then in the closing round managed to hold on to secure the victory over Rueben Dominguez (right) who came on strong in the final round. Photo: Jim Wyatt

In Bout #2, a super-lightweight bout,  Tony Juan of Adrenaline MMA, San  Bernardino, CA. prevailed over Ruben  Dominguez of Las Vegas, NV. in a  poorly received split decision. There  was no doubt Juan got off to the  quicker start with impressive kicks to  the head and the landing of several  overhand rights, but you couldn’t sell  that notion to the partisan crown. Near  the end of the second round however  Dominquez’s confidence did build to  the point where he was coming on. Then in the third and final round, Dominguez took control. Without a knockout in the third, Dominquez could hardly expect win.

Bradley Guachino (r) of Pala dominated Robert Holquin (l) of Adrenaline MMA in Bout #3. Photo: Jim Wyatt

In Bout #3, Bradley Guachino of Pala, put a beating on Robert Holguin of Adrenaline MMA, San Bernardino, to get the win. Without the horn or bell to end round one, Guachino, who had Holquin pinned against the ropes, kept flailing away until the referee finally got the message. In round two the fighters started flying through the ropes.

In Bout #4 Joseph Hernandez (left) of Pacific Martial Arts, Team Eddie Loco, won his match over Marvin Madariaga (right) with his superior boxing skills. Photo: Jim Wyatt

In Bout #4, Joseph Hernandez of Pacific Martial Arts in San Diego, a member of Team Eddie Loco defeated Marvin Madariaga of Blue Ocean Thai Boxing/Black House Team Nogueira, San Diego, CA. The first round went to Hernandez who scored a knockdown, caught Madariaga with several hard punches to the face and kicked exceptionally well to the chest. In round two, the momentum swung back and forth. By round #3 Hernandez was in charge and kept landing left hook after left hook after Madariaga kept dropping his hands.

Bout #5, a MMA bout, featured Tiffany “Time Bomb” Van Soest of Blue Ocean Thai Boxing and full time instructor at Black House Team Nogueira of San Diego, CA. going up against Kate McGray of Dynamix Martial Arts in Los Angeles, CA. From the outset Van Soest was all over McGray using kicks and punches. After doing so well in round one, she took it up a notch and soon had McGray on her back and punching her face.

Bout #5 featured Tiffany Van Soest showing her quickness as she completely overwhelmed her opponent, Kate McGray. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Unlike the men’s UFC matches where the referee stands idly by while a fighter receives a pounding, Saturday’s WCK referee was quick to act and called for an early stoppage before McGary got really hurt.

The crowd was surprised when the judges ruled Bout #6 was a draw between Justin Smith (r) and Scott Venerick (l). Photo: Jim Wyatt

Bout #6 between Justin Smith of City Boxing, San Diego, CA and Scott Venerick of Bob Chaney Martial Arts in Temecula, CA. had the most surprising ending. Throughout the bout Smith landed the heavier blows, scored several knockdowns and got inside Venerick’s defenses to land the stronger kicks plus the short right and left hooks. Venerick’s punches, though looping and far less effective, impressed the judges enough to have them rule the bout a draw.

A. J. Jimenez of Adrenaline MMA, shown here pounding Steve Orosco in the head dominated his exciting MMA bout. Photo: Jim Wyatt

In Bout #7, A. J. Jimenez of Adenaline MMA appeared to have no problem with the much taller Steve Orosco of The Boxing Club, San Diego. Almost immediatly Jimenez was on top of his opponent and punching him on the side of the head. They too flew through the ropes but miraculously went unhurt. The end came in the second round when the grappling of Jimenez gained him a submission by triangle choke.

Amber Pope (l) of CSA, Dublin, CA, won the first three of five rounds, then managed to survive the late onslaught by Kristina Alvarez (r) to win the IAMTF US National Women’s Lightweight Championship. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Bout #8, a Muay Thai/Kickboxing five rounder, featured Amber Pope of CSA Gym, Dublin, CA going up against Kristina Alvarez of Blue Ocean MuayThai/Black House Team Nogueira, San Diego, CA fighting for the IAMTF US National Women’s Lightweight Championship.

Since Alvarez was more calculating and tentative at first, Pope easily took the first three rounds by being busier, matching the kick count and landing more straight shots to Alvarez’s head. Like most professionals she knew to end each round with a flurry to impress the judges.

By rounds four and five, Alvarez had finally taken control of the fight and started landing the better one, two combinations. At that point she had the confidence to stand toe to toe and began to dominate. Though the judging was close, overcoming the first three rounds proved impossible and the decision went to Amber Pope.

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