There’s always some good matchups on the fight card when CageSport rolls out another event at the Emerald Queen Casino. When you add a title belt contest to the equation, the air in the EQC showroom always seems to have a little more zing to it and fight fans seem to be even a little more amped to see some mixed martial arts.
This was definitely the case on Saturday, Dec. 16, as Brian Halquist Productions delivered the 48th installment of the CageSport with an offering of eight fights for the MMA fans.
The CageSport lightweight title was on the line this night, and the pairing looked like it had the makings for an epic battle. On one side of the cage stood veteran Julian Erosa, looking to bounce back from his surprise TKO upset at CageSport 46. On the other side of the cage stood Bryan Nuro, a dangerous striker and floor technician. One fighter would leave the cage with a championship belt, while the other would be left wondering how everything went wrong.
From the opening bell of the five-round contest, it was clear that both men were going to bring it. Nuro would move forward, attempting to press the attack and then Erosa would whip his leg out with a straight kick to the midsection, slowing down Nuro’s forward momentum. The first round was probably the closest of the fight, as both fighters circled, poked and prodded, looking for an opening to go along with some rhythm.
Despite a relatively close first round, it was easy to call it for Erosa.
The next four rounds were a different story. While Nuro continued to try and press the attack, it was the counter work of Erosa that repeatedly landed shots, earning points from the judges. By the end of the second round, Erosa looked solidly in his element, while Nuro looked to be still searching for an opening and groove that wasn’t going to appear for him.
Rounds three and four were much the same for Erosa, as he connected with kicks and punches that Nuro had very few answers for. In the fourth round, Nuro went for the first takedown of the contest, only to have it completely flipped on him. As he seemed to have Erosa heading to the mat, Nuro was suddenly looking up at his opponent with his back on the canvas and look of shock on his face. It just wasn’t going to be his night.
The fifth round delivered more solid action from both fighters, but in the end it was a unanimous decision for Erosa (20-5-0), who hoisted the championship belt following the match. Whatever the game plan was for Nuro (7-2-0) was completely nullified by Erosa’s unorthodox style, not to mention his long legs that kept his opponent off-balance.
Local favorite Chris Stone from Port Orchard put in a solid three rounds in the semi-main event against Dex Montenegro. The relative newcomer continues to impress with his grappling abilities, as well as an improved striking game. Stone had Montenegro where he wanted him throughout the fight, narrowly missing on several choke holds, and delivering a bevy of fists and elbows. Montenegro had a few spurts of offensive activity throughout the fight, but Stone had the gameplan, and ultimately his number. Stone (4-1-0) would take the unanimous decision as Montenegro fell to 5-3-0.
Fight fans would witness six undercard bouts that ended by a knockout or a submission. In the first fight of the night, Terrance McKinney (2-0-0) would slap a rear naked choke hold on Armando Best (2-7-0) in the first round for a quick victory. McKinney definitely looks like a fighter to keep your eye on in the near future. He looks hungry and talented.
The second fight of the night saw Justin Milani square off with Cameron Sevilla-Rivera, making his professional MMA debut. While Rivera has spent much time in the ring as a boxer at the EQC Battle at the Boat, his transition to MMA looks like it may have a future. After a slow start, eating a host of leg kicks from Milani (3-9-0), Rivera (1-0-0) began teeing off on his opponent, sending him to the canvas for the last time in the second round for the victory.
Up next was another quick one. University Place’s Tyrone Henderson (4-2-1) got a hold of Wyatt Gonzalez’s arm and wouldn’t let go, despite his opponent flipping several times to try and get a release from the iron grip. In the end, Gonzalez (1-4-0) would have to tap out in the first round.
The fourth fight of the night was one for the grapplers, as Eric Higaonna met up with Benjamin Vinson. It looked as though it was going to be anyone’s contest until Vinson (8-5-1) found himself in the perfect spot for a guillotine choke hold and Higaonna (8-3-0) was done for in the second round.
Up next was a match for those who came to see some punches. Sean Soliz was making his professional debut against Chase Hooper, who had but one pro fight under his belt himself. The action in the first round looked as though we were going to have a real barnburner on our hands. However, Hooper would get Soliz on the ground late in the round, and began delivering shots to the head of Soliz, who was trapped between his legs. The referee stopped the fight just a heartbeat before the bell rang.
The final bout on the undercard would match Brandon Cromartie against Talon Hammons, making his pro debut. It was clear that Cromartie came to grapple, while Hammons was there to knock him out. It took just over three minutes for Hammons to pull the trigger on a vicious uppercut that sent Cromartie to the deck, and the referee stopped the bout.
CageSport 49 will go down on Saturday, Feb. 10, at the Emerald Queen Casino. First fight goes off at 7 p.m.