Rounds of excitement at Ring of Fire
VAIL – Allan Ryan may have lost his first fight by a close decision, but he’s ready for his next one.”I’ve found my new sport for sure,” Ryan said, holding an ice pack to his swollen right eye. “I’ll let this eye heal, but I’ll be back.”And even though Nick Mullins beat Brian Box by rendering him unconscious, the two embraced in the locker room, discussed their fight and shared a few laughs.Such was the atmosphere at Saturday night’s Ring of Fire mixed martial arts championship at Dobson Arena. In front of a packed house, 20 fighters showcased their skills and gave Vail its first taste of ultimate fighting.Jerry Campbell stated the 10-card event by earning a win over Haven Torres less than one minute into the second round of the 135-pound bout.
After Campbell brought Torres to the ground, Campbell worked into a position for a choke and earned a victory when his opponent tapped out. “I had to watch. He was trying to throw that knee,” Campbell said. “I kept my eye on that and tried to get him to the ground. I figured that was where I’d get him.”The second fight lasted less than a minute with Louie Lagunsad barraging Scott Tavers (155 pounds) with punches and getting Tavers in an armlock before the referee called the fight when Tavers tapped out.In the third bout, Ryan and Steve Garcia (155 pounds) went the distance in a back-and-forth fight.Midway into the first round, Garcia took Ryan to the ground and delivered several blows to Ryan’s face, cutting his eye. But Ryan fought to avoid too many direct blows, and finished out the round.Ryan came back in the second round with some offense, and in the third round, Ryan gained positioning and put Garcia in a leg lock for the final minute of the fight. When the bell rang, both fighters collapsed with exhaustion, and the judges gave Garcia the decision.
“I almost finished him with that triangle,” Ryan said. “I tried that toe lock. He’s a tough opponent, though.”One wild roundMullins and Box (155 pounds) wasted no time in their bout, attacking each other right away.After Mullins took Box down, Box used a hard kick from the ground to push Mullins back, and the two then engaged in a neutral position.In the final minute of the round, Mullins earned a headlock on Box, while Box worked Mullins’ left ankle. The 10-second warning block sounded off, and it looked like the round would end, but Box passed out with two seconds left in the round, giving Mullins the win.
“He messed up,” Mullins said. “He was going for my feet, and he should have been trying to control my wrists. I knew once he was going for my feet, I had to choke. I didn’t squeeze right away because this altitude (messed) me up. I waited patiently, and then got it. After a few seconds, I knew he wasn’t going to tap. I knew he was tough.”Box was equally amazed that Mullins didn’t tap out.”He’s got Gumby ankles,” Box said. “That thing was torqued, I know that. I was trying to wrench his ankle, and all of a sudden, I passed out. I’m squeezing and being stupid, thinking, ‘Oh, I’ve got his ankle.’ And then I’m out.”In the women’s kickboxing match (115 pounds), Kate Martinez earned a unanimous decision over Michelle Fierros.Martinez used her height advantage to get lots of solid head shots on Fierros, as well as several good kicks.In the second round, Martinez unleashed several quick shots that bloodied Fierros’ nose, and Martinez continued to dominate in the final round.
“My coaches train me well to work with my height and weight,” Martinez said. “Usually in my weight class I have a distinct reach advantage. My punches often hit my opponents before my kicks can.”Fierros didn’t land many head shots, and focused on pounding away at Martinez’s body.”She was going after my body. That was her plan, which confused me because if it were anyone’s plan it should have been mine to help gas her out faster. Maybe she’s thinking because she’s from Texas and I’m from Colorado evening out the field a little bit. But I’ve trained so much in my abs and in the martial arts with core conditioning that body shots don’t really effect me. The head shots, though, if she kept those up, it would have been more devastating.”And Drew “Vanilla Gorilla” Knapp earned a tap out against Scott Swanson in the first round of the heavyweight bout.Ultimate respect
All of the fighters showed the ultimate respect for their opponents, as well as the sport.”There’s definitely some of the biggest camaraderie you’ll ever see,” Torres said. “It’s hard to go out there and make yourself hit somebody who didn’t do anything to you. Not only that, but we are sportsmen and we don’t want to hurt each other. We want to represent the sport. Right now, it’s on the cusp and some people think, ‘Oh they are thugs or bar brawlers,’ which is totally the opposite of the truth. A lot of us are accomplished martial artists and have discipline and nothing but love for the art.”When Box opened the door to Mullins’ locker room with a smile on his face and came to congratulate Mullins, there was no question as to sportsmanship.”Once the bell rings, it’s on, but after that, we’re people,” Mullins said.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14631, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado
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