There was a lot of hype behind this event and it delivered. Aside from the promised MMA stars, Tim Kennedy, Paul Buentello, Mike Van Arsdale, and Rich Clementi, Rashad Evans also joined the crowd, taking pictures with everyone. Because the fight was for the troops, the fighters went all out to entertain and it made for an awesome event, packed with submissions, TKOs, 3 round battles, and the barnburner that was Schoonover/Jones.
For the Main Event, it was Rich 'No Love' Clementi versus Josh Hinkle, and though Hinkle didn't walk away with the win, he proved worthy of the big status fight he was given. Hinkle won the first round with a combination of kicks and to my surprise, takedowns, but after the end of that first round, it was a classic Clementi performance. It was no land slide. Hinkle put up a good fight, continuing to land strikes and occasionally ending up on top, but Clementi did what he does best and outgrappled Hinkle to a 29-28 win, setting it all up with some prey solid striking.
Rich Clementi defeats Josh Hinkle via Unanimous Decision
For the Co-Main Event, it was hometown boy Darrill 'The Boss' Schoonover taking on Esteves 'Quiet Riot' Jones on a 4 day notice for what ended up being fight of the night. Both are known to be heavy handed but neither came out gun-shy. It was a really close fight that went back and forth. Schoonover was the crisper striker. He dropped Jones' several times using straight punches to counter Jones' looping ones and looked great in the clinch, landing nasty knees to Jones' body when the chance arose. Jones' striking was a little more wild but when he landed, he landed big, also dropping Schoonover a couple of times. Jones didn't look for the takedown but took advantage of positioning when he stuffed Schoonover's takedowns, staying on top and in control for minutes at a time. The fight was a three round war so close, it was hard to judge. Darrill dropped Jones. Jones dropped Schoonover. Still, Jones was on top for the grappling portions of the fight and that's probably what edged him the decision. Jones said this was by far the toughest fight he's had and is sure to come out even better in his next fight, where he's set to defend his King of the Cage belt against Nick 'Afrozilla' Gaston. Even with the short notice, Schoonover almost got himself a win against a King of the Cage champ and hopefully his heart and willingness to take this fight on 4 days notice gets him a big fight in his next outing and gets the proper time to prepare for it.
Esteves Jones defeats Darrill Schoonover via Unanimous Decision
Lance Evans returned to the cage for the first time in 2 years, taking on decorated wrestler Jeremy Rosales. Both fighters came out tentative, and though neither ever seemed to be able to measure out his opponent, Rosales was the more aggressive fighter of the two and landed a little more than Evans throughout the three rounds, which got him the win. Evans landed his share if strikes but never really seemed to get into the 'groove' of things, which might have been a result of the ring rust and with his first fight in a long, long time out of the way, hopefully he gets a win in his next outing. Rosales kept the fight standing despite having the credentials to take it to the mat, and was able to walk away with the win. With the skill to win a fight standing and the ability to take it to the ground should he not be doing so good flinging strikes, Rosales is a threat everywhere inside the cage.
Jeremy Rosales defeats Lance Evans via Unanimous Decision
Flashy striker Oscar De La Parra made his long awaited professional debut against then 1-0 grappling specialist Thomas Soto. It was a classic striker versus grappler match and wrestling bested kickboxing for two of the three rounds. Though it was already expected, Soto made it clear within seconds of the fight what he was there to do, to put De La Parra on his back, take him out of his comfort zone, and work him. For two rounds Soto went for successful single leg after successful single leg, almost always getting his takedown. Still, De La Parra never gave him anything more than guard or half guard, and time after time used the fence to wall walk to his feet, but time after time, Soto took him down. Maybe it was the chants of 'Oscar, Oscar Oscar' that inspired him, who knows, but De La Parra never seemed to break, determined to get back up despite not having success at staying up, and in the third round, that determination paid off. Soto got an early takedown but seemed to be fading. De La Parra got to his feet and took over. Soto shot in for another single but De La Parra stuffed him and used the north-south position to punish Soto, which was the story of the third round. Despite still having gas to keep going and getting big momentum in that third round, De La Parra just took over a little too late and lost his debut in a 29-28 decision. The fight showed De La Parra needs to go back and work on his takedown defense. It also showed De La Parra's heart, cardio, determination and a lot of other traits needed for the fight business and like every other young fighter, he's bound to come out a better fighter in his next one. Soto moves to 2-0 and shows a lot of promise. He threw virtually no punches in the fight, but didn't need to, and it'll be interesting to see if he can make his striking as good as his wrestling game as he continues to win because you need to be able to do it all to compete in the big shows.
Thomas Soto defeats Oscar De La Parra via Unanimous Decision
Wrestling stud Willie Parks took on Justin Gonzalas and showed a whole other side of him. Parks came out in the first his usual self, a wrestling powerhouse. Gonzalas threw a kick and though Parks barely even got ahold of his ankle, he still tossed him to ground with ease. Once there, Parks showed a more aggressive approach to his ground and pound than his last fight, landing big shots from the top. Gonzalas threw an armbar attempt at some point in the first round, but Parks just shrugged it off and took the round decisively. With his wrestling dominance established in the first, Parks came out wanting to throw hands and a punch he threw was a punch he landed. Within seconds of the second round, Parks had Gonazalas wobbled and after dropping Gonzalas with a punch, he followed him to the ground with the fight ending barrage. Gonzalas didn't get to show much, but that's just cause Willie Parks is on another level than most fighters not fighting in the big promotions. His world-class wrestling alone would probably get him to the big leagues but he seems to he adding weapons to his arsenal with each fight he has and we're excited to see more from him.
Willie Parks defeats Justin Gonzalas via TKO (strikes) at :23 of the 2nd round
Submission specialist Enrique Rios took on Paul Moreno and did exactly what he said he would. Before the fight, he promised a submission and after throwing a low kick, he got to work. He dropped under Moreno's punch, shot for.the takedown, got it, took Moreno's back and got an armbar, all with done with methodical precision. Moreno shows his submission chops in his debut and starts his professional career with his right foot.
Enrique Rios defeats Paul Moreno via submission (armbar) at 1:20 of the 1st round
Relson Gracie instructor and MMA pioneer Shawn Pretat took on Isaiah Reyes and though it was Pretat that came in with the freestyle wrestling and submission grappling background, it was Reyes that walked away with a submission win. Pretat caught everyone, including his opponent, by surprise by coming out swinging. Pretat landed a couple of punches and caught Reyes' kick to get the takedown. Once in Reyes' guard, Pretat dropped for a heel hook but once he saw he didn't have it quickly scrambled back to top position. Just when we were waiting to see how else Pretat would attack, it was Reyes that through up a triangle and after seconds of adjusting, tapped the grappling ace. With the credentials Pretat has, a submission win over him is a huge feather in Reyes' cap.
Isaiah Reyes defeats Shawn Pretat via submission (triangle) at 1:13 of the 1st round
In the first fight of the night, Corey Edwards took on William Moore. Moore came out with really nice wrestling, changing levels seamlessly. Moore got a takedown right off the bat and though Edwards got up, Moore took him down again. Moore quickly took Edwards' back the second time around and sunk in a.rear naked choke.
William Moore defeats Corey Edwards VIA submission (Rear-Naked Choke) at 1:33 of the 1st round
One of the main guys went in the cage at one point and promised us another big MMA show in the near future. He then went on to say, "We love you San Antonio!!!" Hopefully he just got confused with the name of the city and didn't just fill my heart with hope for nothing.