Joe Soto crowned Tachi Palace Fights bantamweight champ. Photo by Joey Krebs / Phantom Street Artist
Joe Soto crowned Tachi Palace Fights bantamweight champ. Photo by Joey Krebs / Phantom Street Artist

It was a homecoming of sorts for the local prodigal son who returned to Lemoore, Calif., where his match was listed as the evening’s Tachi Palace Fights 18 co-headliner. The former Bellator featherweight champion Joe Soto (13-2) captured the Tachi Palace Fights bantamweight title at 135-pounds against Jeremiah Labiano through the doctor’s urgent stoppage of a bloodbath.

Picture Joe Soto through the abstract paint brush of the cage fighter known as One Bad Mofo who like a modernist sculptor rearranges and reconfigures the face of his opponents. Labiano’s face was redesigned by the signature hands with the color of blood.

In the first round Jeremiah Labiano made Soto hesitate for a few seconds as the local Porterville boy struggled to complete a takedown. Soto was countered effectively with Labiano’s hammerfists while defending Soto’s single-leg try. That was until Soto got his groove on and began to give Labiano flying lessons in dumping the Pleasanton fighter off his feet. With the dump Joe spent most of the second half of the first round in a solid dominant position where the wrestler successfully employed his ground-and-pound.

In the next round Soto did what he does best as a State Champion and National JUCCO finalist in wrestling. Soto had Labiano on his back for the majority of the period landing several big blows. Soto did get into some trouble when he had to recover from being knocked on the canvas by Labiano.

Soto returned with a double-leg dump, and at that point Soto realized what he was in the cage for and began to pummel his opponent as Labiano’s cheek began to swell like jiffy “in a minute” popcorn to the point where his vision was blinded in one eye.

With Soto stalking his bloodied opponent down on weak legs, Soto dropped him with an uppercut and combinations and then passed the guard to the mount. From there, the Bellator vet pounded away with elbows and took Labiano’s back, sinking a deep rear-naked choke.

Before Labiano could submit, the horn suddenly sounded with 44 seconds remaining in the round on the instruction of the cageside doctor who stopped the fight, resulting in Soto winning via technical knockout. In the end it was Soto who outboxed and outwrestled Labiano to snatch the TPF belt. correspondent Joey Krebs caught up with Soto following his TPF 18 title win:

Tachi Palace Fights 18: Martinez vs Culley was held on Thursday, February 6, 2014, at the Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino in Lemoore, California.

Check out our exclusive photo gallery from TPF 18.

Here are the full results:

{Featherweight Championship}
Poppies Martinez (28-9) won by SUB over Chris Culley (17-11)
[3:31] – Round 1 – Anaconda choke

{Bantamweight Championship}
Joe Soto (13-2) won by TKO over Jeremiah Labiano (7-2)
[14:16] – 4:16 Round 3 – doctor stoppage

Buddy Wallace (9-1) won by SUB over Joey Cabezas (5-7)
[4:33] – Round 1 – triangle choke

Cain Carrizosa (6-0) won by KO over Chris Quitiquit (5-4)
[0:30] – Round 1 – punch

Jack May (7-0) won by TKO over Carl Seumanutafa (8-5)
[2:57] – Round 1 – headkick and punches

Luis Gonzalez (5-5) won by KO over Damon Wood (5-4)
[1:39] – Round 1 – punches

Mickey Martinez (9-6) won by SUB over William Johnson (6-9)
[2:13] – Round 1 – neck crank

Hector Sandoval (7-1) won by UD over Benny Vinson (6-2)
[15:00] – 3 Rounds – (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

Alex Perez (10-2) won by UD over Eloy Garza (4-2)
[15:00] – 3 Rounds – (30-27 all)

Thomas Vasquez (4-0) won by SUB over Alex Rojas (2-4)

By: Joey Krebs
aka Phantom Street Artist