North prevailed against south in the all-California main event of Combate Americas “Road to the Championship 3,” as Sacramento featherweight Erick Sanchez put on an impressive showing against local favorite Mike Segura.
The fight topped an eight-bout bill on Monday at Exchange LA, a night club in the former Los Angeles Stock Exchange building.
A left hook to the jaw floored Segura only three seconds into the opening round, but the lanky Subfighter MMA representative regained his wits and struggled to reclaim guard as Sanchez attacked from above. Sanchez was relentless and gave his opponent no space to escape, attaching himself to Segura’s back in a scramble and applying a deep rear-naked choke to coax a tap after only 50 seconds.
Sanchez, a Team Alpha Male product who was cornered by Justin Buchholz and Danny Castillo, ran his record to 7-2 with his third straight finish. Segura, meanwhile, fell to 4-2 in what was the most high-profile matchup of his young career.
In the 130-pound co-main event, Texas-based Angeleno Jonathan Martinez was taken down early but used crafty guard work to turn the position into an advantage. Jesse Cruz was focused on dropping punches from top position when he found himself snared in a rapidly tightening triangle choke. Cruz tried to escape, but Martinez transitioned beautifully into an ambar and forced the “Puerto Rican Gamecock” to tap out at 2:17 of the first frame.
Martinez improved to 8-1 with six finishes, his only defeat coming in a December disqualification loss against Matt Schnell. Cruz was submitted for the third time in as many fights, putting the San Diego native on the worst losing streak of his eight-year career.
Angel Cruz entered his 150-pound contest having finished five of his six professional bouts inside the first round, but he would not have it so easy against “Ferocious Aztec” Emilio Chavez, a man with three times more MMA experience. Chavez withstood an early ground attack and out-grappled his opponent in the second stanza, sinking in a late rear-naked choke which put Cruz to sleep at the 4:21 mark.
Chavez, who accepted the bout on four days’ notice, earned his 11th career victory and fourth by way of submission.
Adam Calderon became the first man to blemish the previously spotless record of Roufusport featherweight Kevin Vazquez, who controlled the early going but could not contain “Chingon” down the stretch. In a hard-fought bout contested largely on the floor, it was Vazquez who swayed the judges with submission attempts and ground strikes to earn scores of 29-28 across the board.
Black House fighter Kyle Estrada rebounded from his February defeat inside the World Series of Fighting cage by making short work of fellow flyweight Jonathan Santa Maria. “Johnny Tsunami” instigated a clinch, but it was Estrada who hurled Santa Maria to the ground, passed to full mount and mashed away with elbows until referee Mike Beltran stepped in at 1:55 of the opening round.
Local lightweights Jose Estrada and Jonathan Quiroz engaged in a slugfest for the duration of what proved to be a brief professional debut for both men. The bout came to a screeching halt at 1:44 of round one when “Froggy” caught a leg kick and put Quiroz to sleep with an overhand right to the jaw.
San Diego flyweight Louie Bowen-Rojo capitalized on an early mistake from Michael Reyes to pick up a submission win inside the opening minute. After catching a knee strike and converting it to a takedown, Bowen-Rojo caught the scrambling “El Guapo” in a guillotine choke and jumped guard to force a tap at the 59-second mark.
Ground-and-pound offense carried Marcos Gonzalez to a third-round stoppage victory over late replacement George Burton in a 180-pound catchweight bout. Gonzalez, who had not competed since May 2010 due to multiple knee surgeries, weathered submission attempts and pounded away with punches until referee Herb Dean called a halt to the bout at 1:22 of round three.