LOPEZ, BOXER DEFEND TITLES, “CHAOS” REIGNS SUPREME AT KOTC: IMMORTAL
The gods shined brightly on Neil “Chaos” Cooke, as he claimed the King of the Cage Super Heavyweight title amid one of three championship matches at KOTC: Immortal, which took place on February 26, 2009 at the San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino in Highland, CA.
Defending their championship gold was then-reigning champion Chance Williams at super heavyweight (265+ lbs.), Tony Lopez at light heavyweight (205 lbs.), and Victor “Joe Boxer” Valenzuela at junior welterweight (160 lbs.).
In fact, a unification bout at bantamweight (145 lbs.) between reigning champion Lazar Stojadinovic and interim champion Angelo Sanchez was also scheduled, but had to be pulled from the show due to casino age restrictions. When Stojadinovic was unable to defend his title in December 2008 due to injury, Sanchez and Tony Hervey squared off for an interim title, which Sanchez won by close split decision. KOTC matchmakers were hopeful to reschedule the Stojadinovic -Sanchez fight for the March 7th show, KOTC: New Breed, in New Mexico.
Other KOTC action that night included:
Light Heavyweight (205 lbs.) – Josh “The Shark” Iuli vs. David Vessup
Fans were ready for some fight action with this first match, and Vessup and Iuli did not disappoint. Iuli set things off with a hard right, then connecting with more straights as he charged in, but Vessup used his sizable reach advantage to throw high kicks and Muay Thai knees. Vessup eventually got the takedown, but after stalemating in the corner for some time, referee Doc Hamilton ordered the stand-up. In round two, Vessup fired a push kick-left punch combo that dropped Iuli. Vessup followed that up with ground-and-pound, eventually taking the back and getting the tapout by rear naked choke at 0:30 seconds of the second round.
Lightweight (155 lbs.) - John “Johnny B. Goode” Ulloa vs. Bobby “King” Green
Green, who suspiciously resembles a younger “Krazy Horse” Bennett, opened up with a low kick that Ulloa countered. Green fired more low kick-overhand right combinations, scoring a takedown and claiming full mount. Ulloa scrambled out and got a body clinch on Green’s side, but Green escaped, ending up on side mount. From full mount, Green cinched in a left armbar. Ulloa tried to roll through with it, but Green held on and claimed the tapout 2:11 of the 1st round.
Light Heavyweight (205 lbs.) – Dave Cryer vs. Lucas Taber
The first round was largely a feeling out period, as Cryer circled the cage around Taber in the middle, occasionally landing combinations that largely went unanswered. Cryer fired off an outside right kick that even the fans in the back could hear. And another one. Taber eventually got his rhythm, engaging more and shooting in under a right mid-kick, but Cryer ended up getting the better of it, doing damage from side mount to the end of the round. In round two, Cryer continued to keep Taber guessing, launching another right kick with bad intentions. Taber tried to capitalize on Cryer’s slip off of a combination, but to little avail. Towards the end of round two, he came to life with a charging combination that was enough trouble that Cryer avoided by clinching up. By round three, Taber knew he had to do something. A loud “DAVE” chant broke out, which then turned into a “FIGHT” chant. Go figure. Taber shot for another takedown, which Cryer stuffed effortlessly. At the 10 second mark, Cryer turned up the heat and tried to finish the match. Regardless, the judges gave Dave Cryer the unanimous decision.
Featherweight (145 lbs.) – Aaron “The Blood spiller” Miller vs. Roberto Vargas
Vargas was a house of fire, coming in with combinations that stunned Miller. Going to one knee, Miller gave up his head and neck, allowing Vargas the chance to slip in a standing guillotine choke at 0:28 of the first round.
KOTC Super Heavyweight (265+ lbs.) Championship – Neil “Chaos” Cooke vs. Chance “King of the Streets” Williams
Williams was anointed the Super Heavyweight title in December when his opponent, Mike Bourke, was unable to compete. Cooke, coincidentally a teammate of Bourke’s, traditionally fights at heavyweight, but is moving up to challenge the self-proclaimed “King of the Streets” for his title.
Cooke came out firing a right straight, which gave Williams his opening to score a takedown. Williams bulled Cooke up to the corner. Cooke was able to get up briefly, but Williams threw him to the ground, taking the back. Cooke again scrambled to his feet. They broke apart and threw simultaneous lefts, both landing solidly. Any normal man would be out by that point. Williams tried for another takedown, but stepped back to engage. As he did, Cooke worked some dirty boxing, firing combinations as Williams pulled away. Williams stopped the assault by grabbing a clinch and pushing Cooke against the cage. Cooke pulled Williams to the ground and fired rights from behind as referee Herb Dean finally stopped the match at 2:21 of the first round, making Neil “Chaos” Cooke the new King of the Cage Super Heavyweight champion.
Heavyweight (265 lbs.) – Travis Browne vs. Michael Westbrook
Westbrook is a former Washington Redskins wide receiver who’s been studying jiu-jitsu since 1995. Browne set things off with a high left kick. Westbrook switched between clinching Brown against the cage and throwing overhand rights from afar. Brown fired a left shin kick which was hard enough that Westbrook turned away. Browne tried to finish, but Westbrook regained composure and ended up in the top position on the ground. Westbrook almost got caught in an armbar / triangle as he tried to pass guard. Browne continued his right low kick assault in round two. Several times, Westbrook pushed Brown up against the cage, leaving himself open for a choke. By round three, Westbrook finally started to counter Browne’s right low kicks, but not the body kicks that came after it. Shortly thereafter, Westbrook fell to the ground, forcing referee Cecil Peoples to call the match at 1:22 of the third round, giving the TKO victory to Michael Brown, due to Westbrook being unable to continue.
KOTC Light Heavyweight (205 lbs.) Championship – Keith “KO Kid” Berry vs. Tony “Kryptonite” Lopez
In an interesting juxtaposition, Tony Lopez dropped down from heavyweight to win the light heavyweight title at KOTC: Misconduct, in October. Keith Berry is two-time former KOTC middleweight (185 lbs.) champion, moving up to light heavyweight to challenge Lopez for the title.
The name of the game here was a kicking strategy vs. combinations right up the middle, as “Kryptonite” Lopez used high, low, and even side kicks to gauge “The KO Kid.” For his part, Berry took his time, circling about and measuring Lopez up, firing straight combinations down the pipe. Berry got stunned by a right head kick in the middle of the first round, giving Lopez the opening to pounce on him with brutal right punches, but Berry amazingly survived, shrimping out from under and getting to his feet. By this point, the crowd roared their approval for this match. Berry returned the favor with a combination that almost looked to be Kryptonite’s kryptonite.
Berry opened up the second round with straight punches from jump street. Several times, Lopez would turn away, at which point Berry charged for the kill with rights from behind. Engaging face-to-face, Berry used a lot of head movement to avoid Lopez’ shots. Just at the end of the round, Lopez dropped Berry, who worked from bottom for a triangle choke. By round three, both men were visibly exhausted. Lopez was content to steadily chop the Berry tree down with his kicks. Pun intended. Right around the four-minute mark, Berry turned on the steam, but Lopez knocked Berry down with a punch combination, following up with more rights until referee Doc Hamilton called the end of the match at 4:29 of the third round. Lots of cheers and booing. Both men were well represented outside the cage, as they likewise represented inside the cage also.
KOTC Junior Welterweight (160 lbs.) Championship – Donald Sanchez vs. Victor “Joe Boxer” Valenzuela
This proved to be a classic striking clinic, as “Joe Boxer” lived up to his name and stuck to his strategy of keeping the fight standing, attacking with combinations to the face and body at will. Conversely, Sanchez utilized a kicking arsenal, shooting in for a takedown whenever Boxer threatened a knockout. Towards the end of round one, Boxer caught a high right kick, pushing Sanchez to the ground, then letting him stand back up. This happened again in round three. Sanchez scored a trip takedown in the second round. Boxer worked for a kimura from bottom before referee Herb Dean stood them up again. By round three, Sanchez’ nose was visibly broken and leaking blood over both fighters. Again, Sanchez scored a takedown, which Boxer used to work a submission from the bottom. The fourth and fifth rounds were more of the same, with Sanchez shooting in for takedowns as Boxer chose his shots. In the waning seconds of the match, Sanchez caught a very close armbar, but Boxer rolled with it and ended up in Sanchez’ mount as the bell rang.
Judges award the match to reigning champion Victor “Joe Boxer” Valenzuela by unanimous decision.
King of the Cage returns to the San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino on June 11th. Go to www.KingoftheCage.com for further details.