Mixed-martial arts returns to Dobson Arena
VAIL —In answer to the question, yes, mixed-martial arts can draw in a ski town.
Legacy Fighting Alliance 39 brought a mixed-martial-arts fight night to Vail’s Dobson Arena with a full 10-fight card, a good-sized crowd and a lot of action on Friday, May 4, complete with scantily-clad ring girls helpfully indicating the round number.
While there was no official attendance announcement, the VIP tables on the floor of the arena were full, the southern bleachers filling up as the night progressed. While there were some empty seats on the floor to the west and east, the event likely drew in excess of 1,000 people.
“I was so excited when I heard this was coming to town,” said Vail’s Jake Harvey, who trains with Inyodo Gym, one of the event’s sponsors. “I told everyone I knew to come. I think people were worried that the (spectators) would get aggressive, but that’s totally not the case.”
Carol Heinisch, of Denver, should know. Her nephew Ian was a combantant in the main attraction against Gabriel Checcho, later in the evening, and she doesn’t miss his fights.
“It’s really not that different from other places,” she said of the scene. “There are people who like the action everywhere. I would have to say the crowd is a little less rowdy.”
The ground rules
Mixed martial arts fighting is a combination of boxing, wrestling and karate. All fights on the prime-time card, but the main event were scheduled for three 5-minute rounds —Ian Heinisch and Gabriel Checco were set for five 5-minute rounds.
While it seems like in the LFA is anything goes, there are some rules such as no head-butting, eye gouging, biting or spitting, hair pulling, fish hooking and any groin attacks among other regulations.
Bouts go until a fighter taps out, or submits, or the referee steps in and calls a technical knockout. If a fight goes the distance, judges score the bout on a traditional 10-point boxing scale.
Friday night’s fighters showed there are many ways to get the job done. In the opener of the main card, Youssef Zalal used his speed to overwhelm Daniel Soto in a second-round TKO.
Zalal easily eluded Soto’s jabs and then used his speed to take his opponent to the canvass where Soto remained prone for the rest of the fight.
At 140 pounds, Ahmet Kayretil, of Fairfax, Virginia, clearly employed his martial-arts skills against Turrell Galloway, of Albuquerque, who appeared to be from a boxing background. Kayretil spent most of the bout, swiping away with his legs at Galloway. When they went to the mat, Kayretil kept Galloway in a clench.
By the second round, Galloway was bleeding from the right side of head and unable to defend himself. The referee called it at the end of the second.
Or there’s just outlasting someone. As with any athletic endeavor, altitude comes into play at 8.150 feet. A full 15-minute fight is intense. It doubtless seemed longer for Austin Hubbard and Harvey Park, who were the first to go the distance on Friday.
Park had the early advantage, but Hubbard ended up having the stamina at altitude, winning a unanimous 29-28 decision from three judges.
And the sweet science lives in the octagon as Maycee Barber put on a boxing clinic during the third round of her bout with Audrey Perkins, earning a TKO.
Local shines in prelim
Vail’s Carmen Sawtelle gave a boisterous local following something for which to cheer during the preliminaries. In the first bout of her career, she got a second-round submission over Jesonna Ollis, of Durango.
Sawtelle clearly dictated the action starting in the second recording several takedowns and eventually getting on top of Ollis. While in the dominant position, Sage executed an arm-bar move that finished the evening for Ollis. Sage jumped up, arms extended, waving to the fans who turned out for her. She exited the octagon to the flashes of multiple cell phones.
Not all debuts can bee successful. Albuquerque’s Chris Roybal earned a TKO of Edwards’ Chris Powers, who was making his first LFA appearance. Powers got Roybal in an initial headlock before he had his shoulder separated.
“My shoulder popped out pretty fast,” Powers said. “I couldn’t use my right arm. It was an experience. I’ve just gotta keep working. You never quit. You don’t stop.”