Combate Americas, the Hispanic MMA sports franchise, celebrated its end of the year tournament, Copa Combate at the Save Mart Center on Friday night. The tournament brought fighters from all over the world to Fresno, all battling for a chance to win the $100,000 first-place prize.
The tournament was set up with three preliminary fights, two alternate bouts and the tournament title fights. Each of the eight fighters in the tournament were representing different countries.
The tournament was set up to start at the quarterfinal matches, which were one round for five minutes. All of the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals fights were set at the 145-pound weight class.
The fights began with a preliminary bout between Nathan Napolitano and Paul Elizondo in the 130-pound weight class. Elizondo, who is from Fresno, was fighting his second professional fight ever in front of his home crowd.
Elizondo clearly outmatched Napolitano throughout the fight, submitting him with a choke in the second round to secure the second win of his professional career.
The next two fights were alternate bouts. The first saw Michael Irizarry from Puerto Rico lose to Pablo Sabori from Mexico by unanimous decision.
Then Gustavo Lopez from Nevada defeated Vicente Marquez Enriquez from Spain after a verbal tapout. Enriquez stayed on the mat for an extended amount of time after the fight was called, due to an arm injury and was taken out of the arena by stretcher.
Next, a match with little activity drew boos from the crowd. Pablo Villaseca from Chile defeated Daniel Requeijo from Spain via split decision. The win gave Villaseca a spot in the semifinals.
For the next match, Bruno Cannetti from Argentina defeated Joey Ruquel from Puerto Rico by a brutal knockout in the first round that left Ruquel on the mat for some time after the fight was called.
The sixth fight featured crowd-favorite Alejandro Flores from Mexico against John Bedoya from Colombia. Flores defeated Bedoya with a first-round submission, which set him up to fight Villaseca in the semifinals.
Another crowd favorite, Andres Quintana from New Mexico, fought against Marlon Gonzales in the last fight of the quarterfinals.
Before the fight, Quintana had said during an interview that this was the biggest tournament of the year, and he was confident of winning the whole thing.
“I don’t really care who I fight. All that I really know is that I am going to win it all,” Quintana said.
Quintana defeated Gonzales by unanimous decision to advance to the semifinals where he faced Cannetti.
Before the semifinals, local fighters Albert Gonzales and James Porter faced off in a three-round bout at the 145-pound weight class.
The fight was one of the most entertaining of the night. Porter seemed to have the win on several occasions, but Gonzales showed tremendous heart and kept getting up every time he was down.
In the end, Gonzales was defeated by Porter in a unanimous decision, but not without earning the respect and admiration of the crowd that cheered him on even after he was defeated.
With the semifinals set, the first bout started with Flores facing Villaseca in a very even and entertaining fight. Flores took the match after three rounds via unanimous decision, giving him a spot in the tournament’s final round.
For the next fight, Quintana faced Cannetti in a bout that ended with controversy after what seemed to be an early stoppage, when Cannetti was knocked down and appeared to be unconscious. Cannetti’s trainers were angry at the referee for what they believed to be an unfair stoppage, but the decision had been made, and Quintana was placed into the final.
Before the final match, a women’s featured bout was set between Maria Buzaglo from Peru and Corina Herrera from Porterville, California. Herrera defeated Buzaglo via tapout in the second round in what was one of the most entertaining fights of the night.
The final match of the night was between two of the crowd favorites. Flores and Quintana faced each other in a match some had already predicted to be the final.
Flores started the bout strong but also cautious of Quintana’s boxing skills. Quintana however seem to be unfazed by several kicks from Flores. The match took a turn when Flores seemed to take advantage of a shot and launched at Quintana, who with a well-placed elbow, was able to knock down Flores.
Quintana pounced on Flores, hitting him several times with heavy shots to the head. The referee stopped the match with 2:49 left in the first round, awarding the win to Quintana.
During the post-fight press conference, Quintana commented on his win and his rivalry with Flores.
“I believed in myself, and my coaches believed in me. You can do anything if you put your mind into it, and I said it from a year ago that I would win this championship” Quintana said. “I trained with Alejandro [Flores] before, and he is super tough, I knew he would come out and find a way to try and win.”
Caption photo 1: Joey Ruquel takes a kick to the head from Bruno Cannetti during the quarterfinal match of Copa Combate at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, on Friday, Dec. 07, 2018. Photo by Jose Romo/Collegian
Caption Photo 2: Andres Quintana takes down Alejandro Flores during the final match at Copa Combate at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, on Friday, Dec. 07, 2018. Photo by Jose Romo/Collegian
Caption Photo 3: Andres Quintana comes out with the American flag before his Copa Combate fight at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, on Friday, Dec. 07, 2018. Photo by Jose Romo/Collegian.