Franca Victory Effortless,first State-sanctioned Ladies Bout In Cali Competitiveat Total Combat 14
Franca Victory Effortless,
First State-Sanctioned Ladies Bout in Cali Competitive
at Total Combat 14
By Loretta Hunt
Del Mar, California, May 13 — It took a carrot-topped Hermes Franca only 53 seconds to secure a nearly effortless armbar tap out from local staple Toby Imada at tonight’s Total Combat 14 "Throwdown." His third victory in a row since returning to competition after a trio of losses in 2005 and a subsequent six-month hiatus, the Brazilian lightweight’s tour of the mid-level promotions across America has so far yielded him title belts in Florida’s AFC and the Golden State’s WEC in the span of two months.
Franca was scheduled to go for his third title tonight against Total Combat lightweight champion Adam Lynn before the Next Generation fighter was injured in training. The 12-5 Franca seemed perfectly content with the undisputed victory here though, last year’s turmoil of his break from American Top Team seemingly behind him. Franca scored an initial takedown on the 14-10 Imada off an opening high kick, and then the California fighter rose and took Franca down himself, just the place the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt wanted to be for the easy finish.
After holding the auspicious honor of becoming the first southern California state-sanctioned MMA event in March, Total Combat spread its wings a bit by moving to a larger outdoor arena at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. An estimated audience of 2,500 partook of what has become the cornerstone promotion of the San Diego arena for its solid matchmaking (bouts are uncannily competitive from top to bottom), and polished presentation, which includes their go-go dancing Combat Dolls. And although it was far from a sellout tonight, it would be hard to fathom that those that did attend left disappointed.
Whether the audience realized it or not, they witnessed a highly-competitive female bout by industry standards between Kellyn Huehn and Crystal Harris, the first-ever California state-sanctioned female bout. Cornered by the San Diego Fight Club, Heuhn’s crisper one-twos catapulted her ahead in a gripping opening exchange before the Valley Fight Club’s Harris scored a soft takedown. From her back, Huehn demonstrated excellent grappling skills, maneuvering to North-South position where she latched on an armbar Harris eventually averted.
In the second round, Harris reversed an initial takedown and connected some sizable punches on a swelling Huehn that were only amplified by the close-ups of her squinched face on the jumbo screens. Scrambling to their feet, Huehn startled Harris with a big punch, but the tough-as-nails mother of three took it as another invitation to go toe-to-toe.
Their surprisingly technical trading continued into round three, and when Harris took the majority decision even though it should have gone to Huehn for her overall control on the mats in rounds one and three, the crowd was too satisfied to even notice.
In the evening co-main event, BJ Penn MMA’s Jay Carter got off to a fine start against Tijuana power puncher Edwin Aguilar. Lanky Hawaiian Carter kept Aguilar’s fists at bay in their evenly-matched clinches and with takedowns in the first period of action, but Aguilar came back in the second looking more like his highlight reels, firing off a line of uppercuts and short hooks that chased a backtracking Carter’s will to fight away in the drop of a dime. Then taking the softened Carter down easily, Aguilar mounted and began to unload. The referee gave the Hawaiian ample time to improve position before halting the action.
Local favorite and former TC lightweight champion Alex Garcia had his way with seasoned vet Shad Smith throughout their three-round melee. Although Smith can be seen on fight tapes dating back to 2000’s KOTC 3, he had his hands full with swift wrestler Garcia, who had his senior cornered on the fence and under serious fire more than once. Add in Garcia’s crowd-pleasing suplexes and there should have been no question of the City Boxing rep’s victory had it gone to the judges. The problem was Garcia got careless in the third, turning his back and walking away from a bloody Smith before reconvening with him centerstage for one more fateful shoot. Grasping the guillotine around Garcia’s protruding neck, Smith fell to his back and got the guillotine tap out with only two minutes left on the clock.
Edward "9 Millimeter" Ratliff called it the "sling blade," an airborne front somersault that sent his heels digging into downed opponent Jamie Schmidt’s chest. Reminscent of Charles "Crazy Horse" Bennett, Ratliff’s entertaining "Karate" antics amused the crowd, and more importantly, eventually took his opponent out of his game, even after Schmidt had secured mount earlier in the round and nearly finished with an armbar in its latter seconds.
Building on his momentum, Ratliff landed a spinning back kick to open the second stanza, and when Schmidt erroneously pulled Ratliff down on top of him, Ratliff went to work in mount. Schmidt flipped to his back immediately and referee Schorle rightfully stepped in when the motionless bottom fighter seemed unable to help himself out. Rising slower than normal to his feet, Schmidt’s brow now bore a sizable cut that would need multiple stitches.
Lower down the card, lightweight up-and-comer Chance Ferrar’s unearthly speed and athleticism allowed him a most dominant experience over a game but too green Jeremy McHon, of Tony Galindo’s Bull Pen. Unable to tag the blur in front of him, McHon caught a mouth full of knee each time he dropped levels for the takedown. His sprawls as solid as they come, Ferrar only met trouble when he threw an unintentional, yet illegal knee to a fence-pinned McHon from side control. Getting penalized a point for the infraction, Ferrar again claimed side control in the second and summoned the cut and a doctor’s stoppage from some hard elbows to McHon’s face. Ferrar will be one to watch in the coming year.
Wrestler Grant Whitmer didn’t know what hit him, but his name was Josh Williams, who he came in with a wild kick Whitmer ducked, but then caught Whitmer with some fast and furious punches that sent him back and bouncing off the fence. Although Whitmer was able to recover his balance, William didn’t give him the chance to shoot, flooring the Camp Pendelton member with a right and follow-up shots before referee Jason Herzog stepped in to stop it. Out on his feet, Whitmer grabbed the closest leg he could find, lifting Herzog in the air before he came to his senses.
Starting the night off on a high note, Las Vegas resident Ryan Smith tackled fellow wrestler Fred Leavy to a three-round unanimous decision; while Tony Galindo’s Bull Pen fighter Gary Padilla shut down tough Camp Pendelton wrestler Josh Griggs with big slams and relentless out-positioning.
Total Combat 14 "Throwdown" Results
3 Rounds (3 Minutes each)
3 Rounds (5 Minutes each)