Mulhern upsets Brennan’s comeback; Hervey, Guymon emerge victorious at “KOTC: Militia”
“I’d rather lose an exciting fight, than win a boring one.” Those words emblazon the official Chris Brennan website.
They’re also words to stand by, as the three-time King of the Cage middleweight champion’s return to KOTC action was iced by jiu-jitsu young gun Quinn Mulhern, with an exciting but brief first-round submission stoppage at last week’s King of the Cage: Militia event at the San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino in Highland, CA.
Brennan, who held the middleweight title when the division was at 170 lbs., came out of a 21-month MMA hiatus and a seven-year departure from King of the Cage.
“I never really did [retire]. I needed to take some time off. My body was beat up and I started training a bunch of kids . . . I was so busy doing all the other stuff that I was doing that I didn’t have time to train for myself. I didn’t want to take a fight without being fully prepared. . . A year or two years before that, I fought almost, I think, nine times in a year. So I was just kinda burned out and wanted a little break,” he explained.
The match itself was a rapid ground scrap which saw Mulhern keep pace with Brennan, trapping him in two uma platas before a rib injury forced Brennan to concede at the two minute mark of the first round.
“Knowing he was trying to set up a triangle, I ducked my head out of the triangle . . . because I knew I wasn’t going to get caught with that, and rolled out. And then my plan was to do the same thing the second time, but when I was trying to roll was when [the rib injury] happened, and I was like ‘oh fuck!’ . . . The referee asked if I wanted out, and I said ‘no, but my ribs are out.’ And then I tried to yank my arm to twist a little bit and throw a punch, and I couldn’t even move. I said ‘oh, well, I guess so.’ It wasn’t the uma plata that finished the fight. I hurt myself.”
Brennan, dubbed “The Westside Strangler,” for his history of famous chokeout victories, owns several “Next Generation Jiu-Jitsu” schools in North America and Europe. Mulhern, a young protégé of BJJ expert Alberto Crane (who also fought on the same card), has a Grappler’s Quest championship under his brown belt, and went into the Brennan match with an unblemished 7-0 record.
In other KOTC action, reigning welterweight champion Mike “Joker” Guymon beat Kasey “Ice Cold” Uscola with a second round TKO of a non-title defense that was set at a 175 lb. catchweight. Guymon fought back from a challenging first round which saw Uscola take the welterweight king down twice, working ground-and-pound in each instance.
Tony Hervey had the shortest shift of the night, knocking out Alberto Crane in 12 seconds of the first round. “It was weird. But as soon as he jumped guard, he jumped to my wrists. He didn’t even have my arm hooked. So I’m still standing, planted, and the first – as soon as I made first hit, his eyes were [rolled back] like that. . . I don’t know how many landed, but I just know two for a fact – lights out,” Hervey explained after the match.
The following is a match-by-match report on the night’s fights:
Middleweight (185 lbs.) Estephan Jiminez (Team Execution) vs. Armondo “Chino” Montoya (Team Wildman)
Jiminez got the takedown early in the first round, pushing Montoya into the ground and throwing big bombs standing. Montoya tried to minimize the damage with a high / butterfly guard. Jiminez actually was able to step back and work for a kimura while nearly in Montoya’s butterfly guard. In round two, Montoya came out as a house of fire, tagging Jiminez and getting top position on the ground. He worked for a guillotine, to a rear naked choke, back to a guillotine from bottom position, before Jiminez tapped out at 1:23 of round two.
Welterweight (170 lbs.) George Sanchez (Empire Training Center) vs. Joe “Jo” Lewis (Unbreakable Gym)
Sanchez was originally scheduled to fight another opponent on the May KOTC: Storm show at Lake Elsinore, CA, but the match was pulled after his opponent failed to make weight.
Lewis got Sanchez to the ground in round one with a big, crowd-pleasing slam, but Sanchez retaliated by almost catching Lewis with an armbar. After referee Larry Landless, making a comeback to cage regulation, ordered a stand-up, the combatants traded solid kicks. Sanchez tagged Lewis with a low right kick that was hard enough that Lewis gave him a dap for it. For his part, Lewis threw some nice kicks that kept Sanchez at bay.
Round two imitate the beginning of round one, in that Lewis got Sanchez to the ground and took top position while Sanchez threatened him with submissions. Sanchez finally swept and got full mount. When Lewis gave up his back and Sanchez went for the choke, the crowd erupted. This was one of the most appreciative crowds at San Manuel since KOTC’s debut here last year. They could sense when a submission was close and were rooting for it. Sanchez made a second attempt to get the choke, but to no avail.
In round three, they traded some shots against the cage before Sanchez shot for a double-leg takedown. Lewis wisely pulled back and continued to ground-and-pound, but inadvertently got caught in another armbar. He broke free and fired lefts and rights from side mount while Sanchez was on all fours. Lewis continued the ground and pound to the end of the bell.
Judges awarded Joe Lewis the victory by split decision on scores of 29-28. Sanchez likely won the second round, while Lewis took the first and third.
Bantamweight (135 lbs.) Jose “Berto” Morales (Subfighter) vs. Jon ”The Clone” Sasson (HB Ultimate Training Center / Team Rampage)
Sasson scored a big slam takedown early in round one, but Morales quickly regained control with lefts on the ground before standing up. Sasson tried to pull guard just before the bell rang, but Morales simply dropped punches from inside the guard. Morales opened up round two with a high kick and takedown, but they were stood up, where Sasson engaged more than previously. Sasson ended up standing over Morales and going for an ankle lock from above, much to the fans’ amazement. Morales briefly got Sasson in an armbar before the bell rang. In the third chapter of the match, both men traded hard lefts and rights before Morales scored another takedown and ground-and-pounded away. Morales would get two more takedowns, successfully throwing elbows inside Sasson’s closed guard without getting caught in a triangle choke.
Judges awarded the victory to Jose “Berto” Morales by unanimous decision. Morales likely won rounds one and two.
Lightweight (155 lbs.) Evan “Mr. Nice Guy” Thompson (Team Execution) vs. Corey “Savage” Grant (Team Quest)
Grant had the Team Quest All-Stars out in full force, including Dan Henderson, Cyrille Diabate, and Krzysztof Soszynski. He’s also being cornered by Henderson’s TUF assistant coach, Heath Sims, and Richie Hightower of this season’s TUF U.S. team.
Grant immediately engaged Thompson, leading to both men jockeying for position in the clinch all over the cage, literally going from post to post trying to score a takedown. After a rapid exchange of combinations, Grant shot for a double-leg and took Thompson to the ground. Thompson was able to push him off once, but Grant jumped back into his guard and continued with right punches.
Grant continued the takedown campaign in the second round, scoring three with no problem. Thompson tried for a high guard, but Grant kept driving into him too much. After the second takedown, as Grant stepped back, Thompson inadvertently landed a kick to the groin for a brief break in action. Immediately thereafter, Grant landed his third takedown. Thompson was trying for an uma plata as the round ended.
Grant opened the third round with a flying knee, then took the fight to the ground again. Thompson worked for a triangle, to no avail. Thompson was bleeding from the ear, but the match continued. Thompson escaped from another takedown and worked some dirty boxing, but couldn’t keep the clinch. Grant scored another takedown and fired rights from side mount before the round ended.
Judges award the victory to Corey Grant by unanimous decision.
After the match, Grant commented on his fan following: “You talk about being nervous. . . I found out about an hour before they got here. So that’s when the nerves set in. You want to perform [when] guys like that are at your gym. . . . I’m not a mushy guy when I see stars and stuff, but it made me feel pretty good when they showed up for this event. It was great.”
Light Heavyweight (205 lbs.) Uber “Bulletproof” Gallegos (Training Zone / Joker’s Wild Fight Academy) vs. David Vessup (Brian Warren’s Unbreakable Gym)
Vessup’s last San Manuel appearance was a second round submission win at KOTC: Immortal in February. Gallegos was looking to redeem himself from a February loss at KOTC: Hurricane in Florida.
Vessup threw knees and lefts before Gallegos forced the takedown in the corner and got side mount. Vessup swept by walking the cage, throwing lefts and finally sitting back for a leglock. But Gallegos stood up out of it and threw shots. Vessup threw a flying knee and swung for the fences, but Gallegos muted the attack with a clinch against the cage, finally securing a single leg takedown. Gallegos was in mount as the round ended. Round two opened with Vessup charging in, but Gallegos again took him down in spectacular textbook fashion. Vessup was busy from the bottom, working for a triangle while Gallegos punished him with lefts. Gallegos eventually got full mount and threw punches without a problem, but little was getting through. Going into round three, Vessup fired more combos, a high kick that popped the crowd, and another flying knee. But Gallegos took him down again and threw knees from side mount. Gallegos would score another takedown and ground-and-pound from the side mount to the bell.
Much to the fans’ chagrin, the judges awarded David Vessup the split decision, by scores of 29-28 for Vessup and one score of 30-27 for Gallegos. The crowd was very disapprovingly vocal for this decision.
When asked his thoughts on the controversial decision, Gallegos felt he had the moral victory, which would be enough for him: “I know who won. Terry [Trebilcock] knows who won. . . Everybody was congratulating me. Buying me drinks, because I won. Saying I won. I got paid like I won. . . It’s not his fault, so I’m not gonna blame him. It’s the judging. I just came out and did my best.”
Welterweight (170 lbs.) Mike “The Warrior” Robles (Millennium Jiu-Jitsu) vs. Rick “The I.E. Bad Boy” Legere (Team Wildman)
Legere, having turned around two losses in a row with a first round KO at KOTC: Storm one month prior, looked much more relaxed, while Robles looked like he was trying to make a lasting impression. Robles was active with combinations. At one point, Legere tagged him with a hard jab, but Robles blew it off. To which Legere gave Robles a high-five. Now that’s sportsmanship! The two continued working for the opening, either circling around or clinching against the cage. In round two, Robles continued to stick-and-move with combos, and Legere continued to high-five Robles’ attacks. Legere has to be the most respectful MMA fighter this side of the Atlantic. Legere finally took Robles down and threw lefts from side mount. Robles scrambled to escape, but Legere ended the round with ground-and-pound from the back. Round three saw Legere intercepting Robles as he circled around. Finally, he knocked Robles down with a right straight, then lefts as Robles turned away. The referee finally stopped the match at 2:12 of the third round, giving Rick Legere the win via TKO.
175 lbs. Catchweight Kasey “Ice Cold” Uscola (Team Alpha Male / Ultimate Fitness MMA Training Center) vs. Mike “Joker” Guymon (Joker’s Wild Fighting Academy)
Guymon is the KOTC welterweight champion, but after two title defense opponents fell through for this show, matchmaker Shingo Kashiwagi paired him with Uscola at a catchweight. Uscola dropped 15 pounds in 30 hours for this match. Joker, for his part, got sponsorship from Wienerschnitzel hot dogs. No joke.
Uscola scored a hip toss takedown on Guymon early in round one, dropping elbows from side mount. After a referee stand-up, Guymon charged in with combinations, but Uscola kept him at bay with hard shots. Uscola caught Guymon’s leg off a kick and pushed for another takedown, holding the champ on the ground to the end of the round. Guymon came out swinging in round two. Uscola landed a hard left, but to no effect. Guymon nailed a wicked right body kick that likely broke Uscola’s rib, followed by elbows and hammerfists from side mount until the referee stopped the action at 1:12 of the second round due to TKO. In trademark fashion, Guymon was emotionally overwhelmed, crying on his knees after the fight.
Junior Welterweight (160 lbs.) Alberto Crane (Legacy MMA / Santa Fe BJJ) vs. Tony “Lion Heart” Hervey (MASH Team)
Crane was originally scheduled to fight Thomas “Wildman” Denny at 170 lbs., but after that match fell through, matchmaker Kashiwagi paired Crane up with Hervey, who trains out of Detroit, MI with former KOTC Light Heavyweight champ James Lee. Crane weighed in heavy, and decided to take the 20% pay penalty.
Crane charged Hervey and tried to pull guard, but Hervey kept his ground and KO’ed Crane from standing position until the ref stopped the round at the 0:12 mark. Hervey, ever the crowd-pleaser, proceeded to war stance like “Street Fighter’s” E. Honda and hit about 5-6 breakdance windmill spins, his trademark move.
The post-fight proved to be as eventful as the match itself. The crowd chanted “replay,” which never happened. Crane was on the ground for about three minutes before being carried out on a stretcher. In his post-fight interview, Tony Hervey called out Joe Boxer for his 160 lb. belt, as well as Angelo Sanchez for the 155 lb. belt.
“Angelo Sanchez is not a champ, and I’ll say it to his face. I’ve already been sayin’ that . . . he thinks he is because he won by a fluke. It took them 20 minutes before they could decide if it was a draw or a win. . . Since Valenzuela is the next in line, I don’t say no. Anybody that wants to come, I will adhere to that,” declared Hervey after the show.
Promoter Terry Trebilcock announced that Tony Hervey will challenge Joe Boxer for the vacant KOTC lightweight (155 lb.) title at the next KOTC San Manuel event, “Superstars,” on August 13th.
In the Cheap Pop for the Night moment, Big Poppa Schnake announced that the Los Angeles Lakers had won Game three of the NBA Championship finals. Of course, he got a good reaction for that.
Welterweight (170 lbs.) Chris “The Westside Strangler” Brennan (Next Generation / TRI Center MMA) vs. Quinn Mulhern (Santa Fe BJJ)
In this era of MMA, Brennan is one of the lesser-celebrated, but equally as deserving, “old school” fighters from the 90’s. He’s a veteran of UFC, PRIDE, Shooto, and a former champion in Extreme Challenge and King of the Cage. Mulhern is the KOTC #1 contender for the welterweight title, with an unblemished 7-0 record.
Brennan scored a takedown right from jump street. But Mulhern had a significant size advantage and was able to sit up with Brennan holding his waist. Mulhern pulled rubber guard. Brennan at first was nonplussed, circling around and getting back into Mulhern’s guard, but Mulhern pulled rubber guard again, getting the veteran in a deep uma plata. Brennan stayed with it and tried to spin around, but Mulhern blocked it and kept the uma until getting the tapout at 2:01 of the first round.
King of the Cage returns to San Manuel Casino on August 13th.
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