ProMMAnow.com’s own Joe Gugelman was on the scene at the Eastside Cannery Casino in Las Vegas Saturday night to cover King of the Cage’s “Future Legends 3”.
The Main and co-Main Events featured for the first time ever in KOTC history, two Amateur Championship matches. At 155 lbs., Jacob Mallili faced Aaron Williams, and Kurt Crum and Kirby Mckenzy squared off for the 170 lbs. Championship. Two of these four fighters made history becoming the first ever crowned KOTC amateur champions.
“KOTC: Future Legends 3” quick results:
- 170lb Championship: Kurtis Crum def. Kirby McKenzie by Tapout (RNC) Rd. 1 (2:25)
- 155lb Championship Jacob Malili def. Aaron Williams by Split Decision Rd. 3 (3:00)
- Anthony Canal def. Daniel Cuison by Tapout (Reverse Triangle) Rd. 1 (1:27)
- Luis Cruz def. Daniel Marino via KO (Punch) Rd. 1 (0:04…yes, you read that right)
- Andrew Windrem def. Casey Clendenen by Tapout (RNC) Rd. 2 (2:54)
- Brandon Horton def. Henry Verdugo by Tapout (RNC) Rd. 1 (0:57)
- Mike Hernandez def. Justin Bonner by Tapout (Triangle/Armbar) Rd. 1 (0:43)
- Jose Lopez def. Rick Fell by Tapout (RNC) Rd. 2 (1:49)
- Michael Sanchez def. Bob Villanueva by TKO (Ref stoppage) Rd. 1 (2:03)
- Rebecca Main def. Melissa Edwards by Unanimous Decision Rd. 3 (3:00)
- Sean Thompson def. Niels Berleman by TKO (Ref stoppage) Rd. 2 (2:42)
- David Mitchell def. Ken Ocean by TKO (Ref stoppage) Rd. 1 (3:00)
- Kawaka Lagasca def. Roman Rodriguez by Technical Submission (RNC) Rd. 2 (1:36)
- Michael Lavell def. Dario Castillo by TKO (Ref stoppage) Rd. 1 (1:32)
“KOTC: Future Legends 3” Recap:
- The first fight of the evening, featuring two fighters making their amateur debut, was all Michael Lavell. He delivered big time punishment from the opening bell with a tremendous display of far superior striking, and forced the referee to step in and save the still standing (but wincing) Dario Castillo from further punishment after only 90 seconds.
- After winning the first round on my scorecard, Kawaka Lagasca was able to notch the first win of his young career by putting Roman Rodriguez to sleep with a rear naked choke midway through the second stanza.
- In another fight featuring two welterweights stepping into the cage for the first time, David Mitchell was able to best his fellow Californian, obtaining mount late in the first round and delivering some vicious ground and pound. Ken Ocean is to be commended for hanging on to the horn, but after watching him attempt to stand up, the referee determined that he had seen enough, and declared the Hesperia, CA native unfit to continue.
- This light-heavyweight fight was a tale of two rounds. Niels Berleman started very strong, scoring an early knockdown, and maintaining such an accelerated pace that the visibly exhausted Sean Thompson spit his mouthpiece to the floor in an attempt to gain a respite. Referee Cecil Peoples was having none of it, deducting a point from the man from Bullhead City, AZ for stalling. This put Thompson into a very large deficit after round 1, as any judge with his chair facing the proper direction would have scored the round in favor of Berleman. Not to be deterred, Thompson stormed out of his corner like a bat out of hell and took it to his opponent, forcing him to shoot for desperate takedown attempts, which Thompson promptly disengaged and stood up from, motioning to his opponent to stand back up. Once he did, Thompson did enough damage to cause Peoples to step in and stop the fight near the end of the round, likely because of the numerous cuts on Berleman’s face.
- (Author’s note – Lest anyone believe that I’m exaggerating the following recap because of a personal bias, I believe women’s MMA belongs on a card when skill & technique are likely to be on display. Unfortunately there was none of either to be found on this occasion.) Our only female attraction of the evening could only be described as Dana White’s worst nightmare. The two female competitors swatted, clawed, and at times ran away from each other for 3 full rounds, with neither appearing to know the basic mechanics of how a punch is thrown outside of a tavern. No one displayed ANY grappling prowess, or even an attempt at grappling for that matter. Rebecca Main showed the slightly less pathetic striking abilities with a teep kick and spinning backfist (to the back) that visibly hurt Melissa Edwards, and won a unanimous decision in front of a suddenly silent crowd.
- Luckily they weren’t silent for long, as Joe “Daddy” Stevenson protege Michael Sanchez was able to dispatch his fellow featherweight in short, exciting fashion. Bob Villanueva was able to hold his own early by dictating the location of the fight with his wrestling. However, once Sanchez was able to get him pressed up against the fence and started delivering his strikes, the Cobra Kai pupil wasted no time in putting the fight away, earning the TKO victory in the final minute of round 1.
- This bantamweight contest contained possibly the most exciting single round of the entire evening. Jose Lopez landed a head kick early on, and Rick Fell responded with some impressive grappling. Not to be outdone, Lopez countered his every move brilliantly. For Jiu-Jitsu fans such as myself, it was a pleasant surprise to see two men with one fight between them transition so smoothly, with some nice strikes landed by both in the brief moments the fight spent on the feet. Lopez likely stole the razor-thin first round by obtaining mount in the last seconds and delivering some GnP up until he was seperated. This apparently lit a fire under the young Californian, as the second round wasn’t nearly as closely contested as the previous one. This was all Lopez, who finally sank in and finished with a rear naked choke midway through the second.
- In the first of two lightning quick contests, Mike Hernandez surely won my non-official “Submission of the Night” bonus by first catching the overly eager Justin Bonner in a triangle off of a takedown in the opening seconds, and then adeptly adding an armbar to the mix once it appeared that Bonner might be poised to escape. Make sure to check our exclusive photo gallery to see how this finish unfolded.
- In our second fight in a row to last less than one minute, it was Brandon Horton who found himself getting dominated in the stand up exchanges. Deciding that he doesn’t love this whole “getting punched in the face for no money” thing, he decided to lift Henry Verdugo to a slightly higher elevation, bring him back down to canvas level as quickly as possible, and immediately take his foe’s back and sink in a deep rear naked choke. All in a day’s wo….hobby?
- In our second example of the night of a fighter being deducted a point in a round he would go on to lose (this time for breaking the amateur MMA rule of no knee strikes to the head), Andrew Windrem found himself in a position where even with a strong showing in the next two rounds, a draw would be likely. So what did the lightweight fighter out of San Diego, CA do? He came out looking to finish the fight from the opening bell in the second, using his grappling skills to obtain, and then maintain dominant positions. He placed Casey Clendenen in a very uncomfortable position, with his forearm stretched tightly across his jawline. When Windrem spent the better part of the final minute of the round attempting to sink the choke in under the chin and failing to do so, he decided to switch to some strikes to the head, which opened Clendenen up, first with cuts, then with defense for those strikes, which allowed Windrem to finally lock the choke in tight enough to get the tap with just six seconds left in the round.
- I don’t have much to say about this fight. We also don’t have many photographs of this one. Why? Because it lasted only four seconds, which may well be the fastest KO in sanctioned MMA history. Immediate clarification could not be reached, but considering that Luiz Cruz won the fight with literally the first punch thrown, in addition to the small size of the ring he had to walk across to land that punch on the face of Daniel Marino, it’s hard to believe that any fight on record has ever ended quicker.
- This fight lasted all of 90 seconds, most of which was spent Daniel Cusion in top position. However, after one slip-up in an attempt to move to North-South position, he found himself in a reverse triangle. He followed every instruction yelled out by his corner in their attempt to aide him in his escape, but Anthony Canal was not to be denied. He finally earned the tapout after flipping Cusion over, putting his back against the cage and effectively closing off any paths of escape.
“KOTC: Future Legends 3” Play-by-Play:
*Note: Lack of cageside AC power or Wi-fi prevented live play-by-play.*
(155lb Title) Aaron Williams vs. Jacob Malili
Round 1 – Big knockdown early by Malili. Williams competes a single but falls into a RNC position. He escapes, and ends up on top against the cage. Malili works his way back to his feet. Over-under for Williams, working the legs with knees. NICE judo throw by Malili and he lands in side control. Williams regains guard. GNP by Malili. Open guard by Williams. Sweep by Williams. Malili threatening with a guillotine, loses it. They scramble with Malili windind up in full guard with 30 sec left. Crowd going wild for Williams. Chanting his name. 10-9 Malili
Round 2 – Other side of crowd now chanting “Jacob”. Trip takedown by Williams. In side control along the fence. They’re scrambling, with Williams landing some body blows. Back to the feet, crowd goes nuts. Williams is stalking Malili. Williams eats a kick as he shoots for a single. Gets Malili up against the cage, and finally completes the takedown into side control in the center of the cage. Knees to the body by Williams. Malili is keeping him from passing by holding a one-arm guillotine attempt. Round ends with more knees by Williams from side control. 10-9 Williams
Round 3 – This round is likely to decide the title. Both swing and miss with big shots to start. Williams takes the center and shoots for a double. Up against the cage, he’s trying really hard for the TD. Malili circles out. Williams breaks free after eating a few knees to the body. Williams again shoots, this time for a single. Malili showing good balance. Seperated again in the center, both men seem tentative to let their hands go. Malili lands a big hook up against a cage after shrugging off a TD attempt. Williams with control against the cage, delivering knees. Crowd chants “Aaron” again. Williams completes a single into side control, but Malili quickly regains his feet. Williams winds up pressing Malili against the cage as the round ends. Super thin margin. I gave the final round to Williams 10-9, but it could go either way.
OFFICIAL RESULT: Jacob Malili over Aaron Williams via Split Decision Rd. 3 (3:00)
(170lb Title) Kirby Mckenzie vs. Kurt Crum
Round 1 – Kirby comes out with a high kick attempt to start. Kurt lands a flurry against the cage, and is able to get a TD. He takes Kirby’s back off a scramble, and is working hard to flatten Kirby out. Kirby defending well so far, but now Kurt rolls to his back, still with both hooks in. He’s riding high now though, but postures up and lands some big GnP. He gets off center, but is able to lock up the RNC and gets the tap. It’s a clean sweep for Sin City Syndicate (Throwdown) in the title fights.
OFFICIAL RESULT: Kurt Crum def. Kirby Mckenzie via Tapout (RNC) Rd. 1 (2:25)