Featherweight — David Armas (5-8) defeated Luis Vega (9-4) via TKO (punches after dropping him) at 0:17 of the second round.
Catchweight — Fabian Saldivar (3-1) defeated Kirk Hubble (2-3) via verbal submission (back mount) at 2:53 of the first round.
Heavyweight — Joel Castillo (2-0) defeated Raul Ponce (1-3) via TKO (punches from mount) at 1:07 of the first round.
Welterweight — Miguel Bustos Jr. (1-0) defeated Daniel Cervantes (1-2) via submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:05 of the third round.
Welterweight — Elias Marks (5-3) defeated Adrian Torres (0-1) via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27).
Lightweight — Victor Martinez (1-2) defeated Juan Antonio Peña (0-1) via TKO (punches) at 1:59 of the second round.
Lightweight — Eric Bernal (1-1) defeats Manuel Sorias III (0-2) via submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:43 of the third round.
That’s what changed the course for Luis Vega tonight, on this rainy, not quite yet Autumn night.
Brownsville’s Luis Vega stepped into the cage tonight, hoping to secure a shot at the STFC featherweight crown. To do that, he would have to get past Houston-native David Armas. Things were looking good at first for the fighter that lives in a city that was founded by Charles Stillman.
A low-kick set things up for Vega to rush in and take Armas down to the mat. Vega was attempting to advance, briefly got side-control but could never really get a significant amount of time in a dominant position. A scramble leads to Vega holding Armas in a front-headlock position. Vega fought for a double-leg and got it against the cage. But Armas gets back up to his feet. Another low-kick, and another takedown from Vega. This time, he gets a knee-on-belly when he has side-control and manages to take Armas back as the round comes to an end. Both men walk back to their corners, as I score the fight 10-9 for Vega in my head.
Vega must have been feeling good about what he did in the first round judging by how confident he came out in the second frame. He was ruthless and aggressive. He rushed in swinging away at Armas, who found himself against the cage. But it was not Armas who found himself on the mat. One subtle, effective punch to Vega’s chin, from Armas’ right fist was what sent Vega crashing to the mat. Armas went for the kill. Punch after punch, it just seemed like Vega wasn’t doing anything to get himself out of that dangerous predicament. Referee Jacob Montalvo felt that he saw enough and pulled Armas off of Vega at the 17 second mark of the second frame. Vega stood up and complained afterwards, but it was the right call by Montalvo.
Fabian Saldivar — a fighter who hails from Santa Rosa — racked up his STFC streak to three wins via stoppage when he finished Kirk Hubble in the very first round.
Saldivar, a southpaw, opened the frame by taking to the air and attempting a flying knee on the Corpus Christi-native. Hubble tried to get behind Saldivar and take his back. It led to Saldivar working a kimura and creating a scramble from that. Hubble then tries to push him against the cage, but Saldivar is still going after that kimura. Again, that leads to Hubble scrambling out of that maneuver. A big punch by Saldivar hurts Hubble; a knee by Saldivar appears to find its mark afterwards. Saldivar goes to work, landing a big knee to the body and some good ground-and-pound against the cage. Hubble, showing heart, survived the onslaught. He gets back up and pushes Saldivar against the cage. A leg-kick by Hubble lands but leads Saldivar to taking him down to the canvas. He gets the mount, then takes Hubble’s back. It looks like Saldivar’s working on the rear-naked choke when the referee steps in to stop the fight. Hubble’s not moving and I’m getting really worried. My initial reaction was that Saldivar had choked out Hubble. Then I wondered if he had hurt his left leg. It wasn’t that, the pressure from the back-mount did serious damage to Hubble’s back and he had verbally submitted from the pain at 2:53 of the first round. After several minutes of lying in the cage, motionless, Hubble was helped to his feet and taken to the back for medical attention.
The battle of the heavyweights was a McAllen vs Weslaco showdown. Representing McAllen was Raul Ponce; representing Weslaco was Joel Castillo. Castillo, angry about being called out, went right after Ponce. He lifted him up in the air and sent him crumbling to the mat, Mark Henry-style. He quickly got mount. This is what I wrote in my notes: “Swing[ing] hard sledgehammers. Sakuraba but instead of chops, [he is using] fists. Donkey Kong.” At 1:07 of the first round, the fight was stopped after the referee had seen enough. Castillo walked away with the TKO victory and bragging rights.
Making his pro-debut, Mission’s Miguel Bustos Jr. displayed resiliency when defeating Daniel Cervantes, of Laredo. In the first round, the fight started with Cervantes looking for punches while Bustos aimed with his kicks. Bustos gets a clinch and tosses Cervantes down. Bustos tries to take Cervantes’ back but winds up on the bottom. Cervantes abandons that position to stand-up and bring the fight back up. After a knee in the clinch, Bustos lands a low-blow on Cervantes. When the fight resumes, several body-kicks by Bustos leads to him being taken down by Cervantes. Like earlier, he lets him get back up. The round expires during a striking exchange.
In the second round, Cervantes opens up using combinations on Bustos. Cervantes is outlanding his opponent, but Bustos still found an opening for a bodykick. Cervantes then goes right to the jab and an uppercut. He starts controlling the distance and pace. He lands a solid right that connects. Cervantes displayed sharper striking technique in the second stanza. The third round opens and Cervantes lands a hard kick during an exchange. Bustos answers back with a bodykick. Cervantes then lands a legkick and a bodykick. At this point, it appeared that Cervantes had taken over the fight. Then, out of nowhere, Bustos finds himself behind Cervantes and drags him to the mat. He quickly locks in the rear-naked choke for the tap out, at 1:05 of the third round. Great come from behind win from the debuting Bustos.
Right before the intermission, we saw Edinburg’s Adrian Torres make his debut against Brownsville’s Elias Marks. Early on, it looked like Torres had some massive power. Torres hit Marks with a big shot that scored him a flash knockdown. After a grappling exchange, Torres landed some solid ground and pound but didn’t put him away. They get in a slugfest that finds Torres hurt. Then a left by Marks catches Torres on the jaw badly enough that he collapses to the mat. With Mark on top, Torres was saved by the bell. The second round, has Marks looking good and Torres looking a bit gassed. Marks works him over against the cage and takes his back at one point. He goes for a D’Arce but abandons that to work some positional grappling. Torres briefly gets on top but can’t do much, so they both end up standing back up. Torres is looking a bit sloppy since he’s tired and Marks is landing the better punches, including a nice uppercut. The round finishes with Marks having the momentum. The last round was all about Marks’ wrestling and grappling. He takes Torres’ back early on, transitions to mount and goes for an armbar. It doesn’t work but Marks just drags him down, secures the mount and keeps him there as the fight comes to an end. Official scorecards read 29-28, 29-28, and 30-27, awarding the fight to Elias Marks.
In the second fight of the evening, Victor Martinez of Pharr, stepped into the cage against Juan Antonio Peña of Brownsville. Martinez was trying to grapple in the first round, but Peña was landing a lot of strikes in the clinch. Martinez starts to land some good strikes of his own from that position. A low-blow by Peña stops the fight and they break-up the clinch. They clinch again and Martinez lands some good punches in that position. Martinez lands a takedown as the round closes. Martinez starts feinting and getting comfortable with his strikes in the second round. It seemed he knows just what to do at this point. He lands a jab, then hits Peña with a huge right hand that forces Peña to the mat. Some extra punches on the ground lead to Martinez earning the TKO win on his column. Official stoppage time was 1:58 of the second round.
The first fight of the night involved Harlingen’s Manuel Soria III and San Juan’s Eric Bernal. In the third round, Sorias shot in for a takedown. Bernal worked off his back, used a kimura sweep to get the mount. He then took Sorias’ back, worked him over with strikes and locked in the rear-naked choke for the submission victory. Time of the stoppage was at 1:43 of the third round.