The Worldwide Gladiator Championship (WGC) made its return to the Houston MMA scene on November 12, at the Pasadena Convention Center. The Master P. backed promotion had a 6 month layoff, but returned in full force with a stacked card featuring some of Houston’s top pro fighters.
According to WGC officials, they tried to improve upon their last show by making changes in areas where they felt needed the most improvement. It definitely showed as the production value and the fights seemed to be vastly improved over the last show. Saul Soliz served as the new matchmaker for the promotion and put together a good card featuring some of Houston’s top fighters.
The card had 10 fights total, 11 if you count the one that broke out in the stands (A shame really that it happened, as it’s been almost a year since I’ve seen a fight in the stands at a Houston MMA event). There was to be 2 title fights, but after Cleburn Walker dropped out of his fight with Artenas Young, that fight was changed to a non-title fight.
Below, we’ll break down each fight with a short recap of the action along with some pictures from each fight. If you’re looking for more detail regarding each fight, you can read our play by play here, or wait until we post the fight videos later in the week.
- Marc Ramirez def. Kierre Gooch via Submission (RNC) at 2:07 of Rd 2
- Shawn Machado def. Rudy Resendez via Split Decision
- Gerzan Chaw def. Nate Garza via Unanimous Decision
- Dale Mitchell def. Chance Hamilton via TKO at 2:39 of Rd 3
- Lee Higgins def. Kenny Burke via Submission (RNC) at 1:25 of Rd 1
- Noel Ligon def. Jacky Elie via TKO in Rd 3
- Derrick Lewis def. Rakim Cleveland via Submission (Arm Bar) at 1:33 of Rd 2
- Todd Moore def. Lee King via TKO at :36 of Rd 2
- Alex Cisne def. RJ Knepp via TKO at 1:45 of Rd 1
- Jared Taylor def. Artenas Young via KO at :38 of Rd 1
Kierre Gooch vs Marc Ramirez
The first bout of the evening saw a young (but skilled) fighter in Marc Ramirez fresh off of an impressive 12 second debut win at IXFA, step into the cage against a fighter in Kierre Gooch who is much better than his record would indicate. Gooch is 2-6 as a pro, but has the skills of a 6-2 fighter. His problem seems to be avoiding the big mistake. This fight would prove to be no different.
As the fight started, Gooch’s experience showed as he easily controlled round one. As round two opened, Gooch picked up where he left off, landing several crisp punches. A well timed knee from Ramriez seemed to change the momentum of the fight and Gooch would spend the rest of the round trying to re-establish himself on the ground, only to make a mistake and give up his back shooting in on Ramirez. Ramirez took advantage and induced a tap via rear naked choke at 2:07 in the second round.
Up next for Ramirez is a title fight for IXFA, where he’ll square off against the #1 ranked lightweight in Houston, Adam Schindler. Schindler hasn’t fought since his appearance at Strikeforce, where he coincidentally beat Kierre Gooch via rear naked choke. That fight is schedule to take place on Dec. 2.
Rudy Resendez vs Sean Machado
Resendez and Machado both climbed in the cage to make their pro debut. Machado is a mountain of a man, who looks more like a pro body builder than a pro MMA fighter. Rudy, on the other hand looks like a mini version of Roy Nelson, but without the Mullet. He did show a similar chin and heart during the fight as Machado was never able to put him away. While not the most technical fight, it was a 3 round slug fest that saw both fighters get cut early, though never really putting either fighter in danger.
Both fighters landed early and often, but Machado seemed to be able to slow Rudy down with a barrage of well timed and well placed leg kicks. In perhaps the closest fight of the night, Machado would earn a split decision victory and move to 1-0 as a pro.
Gerzan Chaw vs Nate Garza
As far as tough pro debut fights go, Gerzan Chaw picked a tough one. Nate Garza (3-2-0) came into the fight riding a two fight win streak, having beaten two very good opponents in Humberto Deleon (Chaw’s teammate) and Frank Ortega. In both of those fights, Garza would use his power to out muscle both of his opponents and impose his will in the fights.
Round one was a close one with Chaw dishing out a steady dose of leg kicks and Garza countering with several well timed 1-2 combos of his own. Round two would be spent on the ground for the most part. Chaw attempted a couple of submissions, but Garza would muscle his weigh out. Garza would settle into a rhythm in round three and besides being taken down late, would win the round handily.
Overall, it was a great fight and would end up earning our TCD.net Fight of the Night award. Despite a strong finish, Garza would drop the decision to Chaw 29-28 on all three judges score cards.
Dale Mitchell vs Chance Hamilton
This was a good fight that would unfortunately end in controversy. Both fighters were big enough to make the earth move, but would have to settle for making the cage move in the first round. As Mitchell shot for a double leg, Hamilton would defend and both fighters would slam into the cage, moving it and drawing tons of oohs and ahhs from the crowd. Round 2 would see another impressive display of strength and power as Mitchell would lift Hamilton over his head and slam him to the mat (see the 4th picture below).
The controversy came in round three. Mitchell was clearly on his way to winning the fight, but appeared to knee Hamilton in the groin. Hamilton went down in pain (see the last picture below). Referee Danny Dealejandro would motion Hamilton to engage, but Hamilton would stay kneeling on the ground, still in pain. Dealejandro stopped the fight and there appeared to be some confusion as to why. I caught up with Dealejandro after the fight and asked him what he saw and why he called the fight. “I was right on top of it. I saw where he got caught. He got caught in the inner leg. He tried to claim it as a low blow but it wasn’t. He was not defending himself so I couldn’t let the fight go on. I was going to let the fight go on but he refused to come out to fight.”
Mitchell seemed just as confused as everyone else. At one point it appeared that he apologized to Hamiltons corner who seemed to motion that their beef was not with him but with the decision to stop the fight. In a fight that would have probably went down as a decision win for Mitchell would instead go down as a TKO victory.
Kenny Burke vs Lee Higgins
Burke came in looking to get his first win as a pro after a couple of tough luck losses, including one against Kierre Gooch at the first WGC event. Higgins was making his pro debut after having his last opponent back out at the IXFA fights in October. Skill wise this was a pretty even match up.
It looked like Burke might get of the schneid in a hurry as he caught Higgins in a tight guillotine choke seconds into the first round, but Higgins some how got out and end up getting Burkes back. Burke held him off for a bit with good wrist control, but would eventually succumb to a very snug rear naked choke by Higgins and tap at the 1:25 mark in the first round.
Noel Ligon vs Jacky Elie
Round one was a close one as both fighters showed crisp Thai boxing. Round two was spent on the ground, with Ligon having several chances to end the fight but unable to capitalize. At the end of the round Elie was clearly gassed. That probably had a lot to do with him doing very little to prevent Ligon from getting mount and eventually having the fight stopped by the referee due to strikes.
Tim Mousel touts Ligon as one of the most talented fighters he’s ever trained. That’s saying something when you consider the list of talented fighters that Mousel has worked with over his career.
Rakim Cleveland vs Derrick Lewis
These two big boys put on a show for the fans, but nobody expected the fight to end the way it did. Lewis came in to the fight ranked #2 in the city and Cleveland brought in a very impressive records as an amateur.
Other than a HUGE slam by Cleveland there wasn’t much damage done in the first round. The aforementioned surprise ending came in round two. The fight made it’s way to the ground as Lewis would gain side control after a very nice take down. From there, Lewis would impressively transition from side control, to north/south to full mount (for a man of his size, the transitions were very fluid). From mount, Lewis saw an opening, swung his hip around, grabbed Cleveland’s arm and laid back. It did take a second for Lewis to get Rakim’s arm in the correct position, but once he did Cleveland was quick to tap and call it a night with his arm still intact.
Lewis’s impressive victory on the ground would earn him TheCageDoor.net Submission of the Night. With a sub of the night award under his belt, I guess it’s no longer OK to label Lewis as just a power puncher.
Lee King vs Todd Moore
This was going to be a bounce back fight for one of these fighters. King had just recently lost a Muay Thai fight to Jesus Rivera at Puro Combate 2 and Moore fell victim to a devastating knockout at the hands of #2 light weight Brian Melancon at Legacy FC in July. As round one started, thing did not look good for Moore, who was taking a tremendous amount of punishment in an attempt to land a single leg. Moore would defend well enough to survive the round and even finish strong with a flurry of his own.
I’m not sure what happened in between the first and second round, but Moore came out looking like a different fighter. He took just 36 seconds to get King to the ground, take his back, flatten him out and unleash a flurry of punches that forced the referee to stop the fight.
King was visibly hurt as he could be seen sitting on his stool holding his neck after the fight. King’s corner could be heard complaining to the referee about the blows and at one point asked referee Dany Dealejandro, “aren’t blows to the back of the head illegal?” to which Dealejandro shook his head no.
Alex Cisne vs RJ Knepp
Alex Cisne used this title fight to make a statement to the Houston MMA community, and what a statement it was. Cisne, a veteran of 2 King of Kombat events, came out peppered RJ Knepp with kicks. In my pre-fight predictions in our forum, I said that you should expect to see a lot of kick from Cisne, and he made me look like a genius.
Unfortunately for Kneep, one well timed kick would spell the end of the night for him and put an end to his chances at the WGC title. As Knepp planted his lead leg throwing a straight, Cisne landed a HARD kick that would buckle the knee of Knepp. Visibly shaken, Kneep hopped back in pain and Cisne pounced. Amazingly, Knepp was some how able to keep fighting for a short while longer, but then another kick to the same knee would send him crashing to the mat. Cisne pounced and eventually force the referee to stop the fight.
Knepp would need medical attention and help in getting out of the cage. I spoke with him after the fight and he seemed disappointed but in good spirits. “I’ll be back. I just need to get my knee better, but I’ll be back,” he told me. “I knew I was in trouble when we went to the ground and I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t transition or move really at all, and that’s not like me because I’m a pretty good wrestler.”
Congratulations to Alex Cisne on winning the WGC Welterweight title.
Artenas Young vs Jared Taylor
As far as upsets go, this was a pretty big one. Artenas Young came in ranked #1 in the city and riding a four fight win streak. Jared Taylor had just lost a 3 round fight to Larry Crowe at IXFA. Taylor took the fight on short notice after Cleburn Walker backed out.
The fight started with Taylor coming out aggressive, a style that usually plays into the hands of Young. After absorbing a couple of shots, Young would return fire and land several of his own. What happened next would shock everyone in the Pasadena Convention Center.
As Young threw a wild hook that missed, Taylor would counter with a spinning back fist that landed flush on the jaw of Artenas. Staggered, Young fell against the cage and Taylor pounced. At just 38 seconds into the first round, the referee would stop the fight and Jared Taylor would be declared the victor. After the fight, I asked Taylor for his thought on the fight, specifically on the spinning back fist. “It always works sometimes,” he said.