SEG/Driller MN MMA Results: Karam, Gilliam Become New Champions at the Hyatt
The Hyatt Regency in Minneapolis was packed on Saturday night as Sterling Entertainment Group and Driller Promotions hosted what might have been the biggest event in the history of their partnership.
Fans filled the area, even lining the walls for Downtown Showdown 12 featuring the main event between Randy Lene and Ehsan Karam for the Driller Promotions amateur bantamweight championship.
The 15-bout fight card was filled with great matchups from start to finish including the return of Andre “The Diva” Tieva, the second professional fight of John “The Sexy Mexi” Castaneda, as well as the highly-anticipated debut of Nick Olson.
Here are the results from another night where Minnesota MMA shined bright in downtown Minneapolis.
Ryan Johnson (0-2) vs. Randall Rasmussen (1-3)—135 Lbs (Amateur)
Ryan Johnson [top] loads up for a big right hand on Randal Rasmussen [bottom]. (Photo thanks to Sandy Hackenmueller of Fight to Finish Photography)
Leg kick early from Rasmussen caught Johnson. He went for another one but Johnson caught it and answered with a counter punch. Rasmussen went for a takedown but Johnson avoided it and ended up bringing him to the ground into a headlock. Rasmussen snuck loose and ended up taking Johnson’s back in the process.
He looked to flatten Johnson out but Johnson broke loose and ended up in a sprawl position, holding Rasmussen’s head. The fighters worked back to their feet but remained clinched. Rasmussen went for another takedown, but Johnson flowed right through it and ended up on top.
He continued to work and moved to mount. He unloaded with punches, most of which were blocked by Rasmussen, but he couldn’t escape the position before the round came to an end.
Bleacher Report Unofficial Score: 10-9 Johnson
Good footwork in the striking game from Rasmussen early in this round, but Johnson moved right in, lifted him with a double and slammed him to the mat onto his back. Johnson worked from within Rasmussen’s guard. Rasmussen was looking to escape from his back, but that allowed Johnson to pass and look for an arm-triangle choke.
Rasmussen escaped that position but gave up his back in the process. Johnson put in his hooks and looked for the rear-naked choke while throwing punches. The second round ended with Johnson in a dominant position yet again, securing him one more round.
Bleacher Report Unofficial Score: 10-9 Johnson (20-18 Johnson overall)
Rasmussen threw a leg kick and moved in for the clinch but Johnson shrugged him off with relative ease. Johnson shot in for another takedown and quickly tripped him back to the mat, right into side control. Johnson moved to mount and unloaded punches.
Rasmussen worked his way to the cage and used the cage to spring himself free of the mount. Johnson stayed in a dominant position, however, and finally ended up in a north-south position. He used this position to control Rasmussen, who looked to break free, but gave up his back yet again.
Johnson looked for the rear-naked choke but Rasmussen kept throwing even with his back held. The fight ended with Johnson on Rasmussen’s back for the second straight round.
Bleacher Report Unofficial Score: 10-9 Johnson (30-27 Johnson overall)
Official Result: Ryan Johnson defeated Randal Rasmussen by unanimous judges’ decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Jay Paulson (2-3) vs. James Marker (1-0)—170 Lbs (Amateur)
James Marker pounds on Jay Paulson from mount (Photo thanks to Kasey Noll of Kasey Jean Photography).
A good combination from Paulson right out of the gate got things started. Marker responded with a huge right hand of his own that dropped Paulson. Marker moved in and worked from Paulson’s guard. Although he was looking for submissions while on his back, Paulson looked a bit stunned still and ended up getting mounted.
Paulson desperately looked to escape but Marker stayed on top, throwing punches in the process. Paulsen looked to move toward the cage to escape but Marker showed great control and held him there, throwing punches when he saw the opportunity.
He finally exploded with a big string of shots which Paulson simply couldn’t escape from. The referee stepped in and called a stop to the bout.
Official Result: James Marker defeated Jay Paulson by TKO (punches) at 2:35 in Round 1
Bryan Mortensen (5-2) vs. Marcel Anderson (4-2)—155 Lbs (Amateur)
Bryan Mortensen (left) clinches with Marcel Anderson against the cage. (Photo thanks to Sandy Hackenmueller of Fight to Finish Photography)
An inside leg kick early from Mortensen started off the striking. Mortensen threw a left head kick but Anderson scouted and blocked it. Body kick attempt from Anderson missed. Lots of grazing body kicks from both fighters early in this one.
Mortensen moved in and clinched. A good trip from Mortensen brought the fight to the ground, but he fell right into a guillotine attempt from Anderson. Mortensen struggled and fought to break free, but Anderson was finally able to finish the fight from that position.
Official Result: Marcel Anderson defeated Bryan Mortensen by submission (guillotine choke) at 1:32 in Round 1
Michael Quinones (0-0) vs. Jake Newlon (2-0)—170 Lbs (Amateur)
Michael Quinones pulls for an armbar on Jacob Newlon in Round 2. (Photo thanks to Sandy Hackenmueller of Fight to Finish Photography)
Front face kick from Newlon but a body kick response from Quinones. Near head kick from Quinones barely missed. Lots of intensity from Quinones in his strikes early in this fight. Front kick to the body from Quinones. Good feint from Quinones and he landed a strike after catching Newlon off guard.
Quinones clinched, grabbed for a standing guillotine choke and pulled him down to the mat. Newlon’s arm was in it, however, which made it tough to finish. Quinones squeezed tight, hoping to get the tap but Newlon escaped and ended up in Quinones’ guard.
Quinones looked for a triangle from his back, allowing Newlon to land punches from the top while defending. Quinones shot back up to his feet and landed a strong head kick right to the face. Newlon was stunned but somehow was able to recover and stay in the fight.
Quinones shot in and took Newlon down. Newlon weakly attempted a guillotine choke but Quinones broke free, moved to mount and landed from the top before the round ended.
Bleacher Report Unofficial Score: 10-9 Quinones
A solid leg kick from Quinones got things started. Spinning body kick from Quinones landed on the money. Another body kick from Quinones caused Newlon to shoot in but Quinones pushed him away.
Newlon shot in again and got a nice slam with the double, bringing Quinones to the mat into guard. Quinones worked a high guard, defending Newlon’s strikes with relative ease. Quinones used the cage to spring over, grabbed Newlon’s right arm and worked for an armbar.
Newlon was able to escape, however and ended up on top. The positioning was right in Quinones’ corner with 30 seconds remaining. Newlon ended the round on top but really didn’t do much with his top positioning.
This was a tough round to score because Quinones was more active off of his back than Newlon was from the top, but the takedown and overall position supremacy probably earned Newlon the round.
Bleacher Report Unofficial Score: 10-9 Newlon (19-19 overall)
A shot in early from Newlon, who was able to bring Quinones down with the single. Quinones’ head was against the cage, which was a tough position for him to move from. A beautiful roll from Quinones moved him into mount!
Newlon was able to re-position to half guard but Quinones began to work his ground-and-pound with some elbows and punches to the ribs. Newlon finally escaped but he was looking VERY tired.
With about 15 seconds remaining in the round, Quinones exploded with a gigantic right head kick to the face. Newlon buckled for the second time in the fight, though he was not out. Quinones didn’t pounce quickly enough and Newlon was able to recover before the round ended.
Bleacher Report Unofficial Score: 10-9 Quinones (29-28 Quinones overall)
Official Result: Michael Quinones defeated Jake Newlon by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Brooke Tibbetts (0-1) vs. Jillian Kreiman (2-0)—145 Lbs (Amateur)
Jillian Kreiman looks for the pass on Brooke Tibbetts. (Photo thanks to Kasey Noll of Kasey Jean Photography)
Light leg kicks from Kreiman started the fight. Tibbetts threw a lunging punch but Kreiman quickly moved in and tripped her to the ground. Kreiman worked from the top and moved into side control. Tibbetts looked to use the cage for a sweep, but Kreiman displayed the supreme ground game that has earned her the name "the grappling queen" and stayed on top.
Tibbetts finally broke free, but Kreman ended up on top in a sprawl position as Tibbetts looked to get to her feet. Kreiman’s positioning placed maximum weight onto Tibbetts' body, holding her down and not letting her get up.
They ended up back in guard where Tibbetts threw a right hand from her back that seemed to surprise Kreiman, but she was still unable to get back to her feet. Kreiman threw from the top, landing with power in the final seconds of the first round.
Bleacher Report Unofficial Score: 10-9 Kreiman
Another nice takedown from Kreiman early and she put Tibbetts right against the cage again, just as she did in the first round. The positive for Tibbetts was that, in this round, the positioning was right in her own corner as opposed to Kreiman’s.
She worked from this position, wearing down Tibbetts' body with punches and just generally out-grappling her. A big forearms and punches from Kreiman from the top finally forced Tibbetts to be unable to defend herself and the referee stepped in to stop the bout.
Official Result: Jillian Kreiman defeated Brooke Tibbetts by TKO (punches) at 2:08 in Round 2
Jarin Hinds (1-2) vs. Nick Olson (0-0)—Heavyweight (Amateur)
The long-anticipated MMA debut of Nick Olson brought out a ton of fans to this show, who were very wild in cheering for their fighter.
Hinds immediately shot in for a takedown but as a former state runner-up in wrestling, Olson's base was very strong as he used the cage to position his body, stayed on his feet and unloaded some big shots to Hinds’ body.
Hinds kept working for the takedown but Olson wouldn’t go down and continued to punish Hinds’ body. Hinds fell to his knees, holding Olson’s ankle, but Olson unloaded with a ridiculous power, crushing the side of Hinds’ head and face before the referee mercifully stepped in to stop it.
Official Result: Nick Olson defeated Jarin Hinds by TKO (punches) at 0:38 in Round 1
The sound from the above video doesn't do justice to the intense strikes that Olson delivered. This guy has some serious power and the wrestling skills to go along with it. It will be very interesting to see him develop over the coming months and years.
B.J. Haugdahl (0-1) vs. Alex Wettstein (1-0)—160 Lbs Catchweight (Amateur)
Alex Wettstein works his ground-and-pound on B.J. Haugdahl. (Photo thanks to Kasey Noll of Kasey Jean Photography)
Lots of aggression from Haugdahl early who chased Wettstein around the cage, throwing strikes but missing with most of them. Wettstein shot in, lifted him off the mat and violently slammed him down into side control.
Wettstein delivered powerful punches from the top as Haugdahl desperately tried to move to full guard. He did get to half guard but Wettstein didn’t stop. Wettstein went for an arm-triangle choke but couldn’t finish it.
Haugdahl was in trouble on his back as Wettstein continued to do damage from the top. Haugdahl tried to use the cage to roll out and escape out the back, but Wettstein kept great positioning and punished him from the top as the round ended.
Bleacher Report Unofficial Score: 10-9 Wettstein
Round 2 started almost exactly like Round 1 with Haugdahl moving in with punches before being lifted and slammed onto his back by Wettstein. A good escape to full guard from Haugdahl gave him a little more breathing room but Wettstein didn’t seem too bothered by it as he continued to throw from the top.
With Haugdahl looking for a triangle, Wettstein stood up and let him up. Haugdahl went for a takedown of his own but Wettstein stayed on his feet and eventually pulled Haugdahl down, right back into half-guard.
Big damage from the top from Wettstein and the referee looked like he was close to stopping the fight but Haugdahl kept fighting and defending. Finally Haugdahl switched the positioning and ended up on top but that didn’t last long as Wettstein swept him right back over into guard.
Bleacher Report Unofficial Score: 10-9 Wettstein (20-18 Wettstein overall)
Much like the first and second rounds, Haugdahl chased Wettstein around the cage for a few seconds but Wettstein simply waited, picked his shot and took him down again. Wettstein worked from Haugdahl’s guard, who definitely needed to get a submission if he hoped to win the fight.
Wettstein’s positioning remained strong, however, as he continued to use his weight to control and wear down Haugdahl. Wettstein took Haugdahl’s back and worked to flatten him out as he went for a rear-naked choke. He eventually let go of the choke and punched instead.
Haugdahl stood up from the position but Wettstein was able to hold onto back and bring him back to the ground.
Bleacher Report Official Score: 10-9 Wettstein (30-27 Wettstein overall)
Official Result: Alex Wettstein defeated B.J. Haugdahl by unanimous judges’ decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Jack Shreffler (1-0) vs. Jason Huntley (0-0)—135 Lbs (Amateur)
Jack Schreffler unloads with a flurry of up-kicks on Jason Huntley. (Photo thanks to Sandy Hackenmueller of Fight to Finish Photography)
Huntley started off strong with a good sprawl away from a Schreffler takedown. He then looked for a standing guillotine choke. Shreffler went down to one knee and continued to work for the takedown with Huntley’s back against the cage.
Shreffler got his head free and pushed Huntley’s back against the cage. Huntley switched the position began working from the clinch. Shreffler pushed Huntley’s head down and swung around him, looking to take his back from a standing position.
Huntley eventually buckled and Shreffler looked for the rear-naked choke. He was too high, though, and Huntley was able to escape out the bottom. Shreffler grabbed an arm and went for an armbar but with only 10 seconds left, was unable to secure it. Both fighters threw some punches back and forth in the final seconds of the round while on the ground.
Bleacher Report Unofficial Score: 10-9 Schreffler
A good leg kick from Huntley early. Body kick from Huntley landed and Shreffler momentarily took him down. They shot right back up to their feet where Shreffler landed a big combination of punches and a body kick. The combo stunned Huntley for a second but he was able to recover.
Shreffler looked for a standing guillotine choke again, then dropped down for a double. Huntley stayed on his feet for a few seconds but eventually got brought to the mat in a sitting position with his back against the cage. Huntley was able to flip things over and ended up in Shreffler’s guard.
Bleacher Report Unofficial Score: 10-9 Huntley (19-19 overall)
Head kick attempts from Shreffler but Huntley blocked them. Shreffler looked tired. He pushed Huntley against the cage and eventually pulled him down with a double. Nice sweep from Huntley, though, and he moved into control with most of the round remaining.
Huntley stood up and threw from his feet, but Shreffler threw a flurry of up-kicks that seemed to surprise Huntley. Huntley moved back into the guard and ended the fight with a few small punches from the top.
Bleacher Report Unofficial Score: 10-9 Huntley (29-28 Huntley overall)
Official Result: Jason Huntley defeated Jack Schreffler by split decision (29-28 Huntley, 29-28 Schreffler, 29-28 Huntley)
Alex Figueroa (4-1) vs. Jake Schommer (3-0)—135 Lbs (Amateur)
Jake Schommer fights for an important takedown on Alex Figueroa. (Photo thanks to Sandy Hackenmueller of Fight to Finish Photography)
Figueroa was very quick and Schommer looked to corner him. Figueroa circled though and stayed on the outside. Massive leg kick from Figueroa dropped Schommer, who stood up and then ate another big shot right away.
One more leg kick from Figueroa finally frustrated Schommer who shot in and took him down. Figueroa looked for a guillotine from his back but Schommer escaped. A beautiful sweep from Figueroa put Schommer on his back.
Schommer looked for a kimura from his back, but Figueroa didn’t allow it. Schommer then threw his legs up and put on a GORGEOUS armbar, which immediately put Figueroa in trouble and he had to tap before his arm was broken.
Official Result: Jake Schommer defeated Alex Figueroa by submission (armbar) at 1:56 in Round 1
Brandon Gardner (4-1) vs. Cameron Gilliam (5-1)—155 Lb Amateur Championship
Brandon Gardner [white shorts] connects with a right hand on Cameron Gilliam. Gilliam would go on to battle back and win the fight with a rear-naked choke in Round 3. (Photo thanks to Sandy Hackenmueller of Fight to Finish Photography)
Gardner looked very tense early in this one as he threw a couple flailing combinations early that didn’t really land. He shot in and Gilliam sprawled away, but Gardner kept moving forward and was eventually able to get the takedown.
Gilliam threw his leg up over the top and went for a triangle, but Gardner moved through it and was able to get back into Gilliam’s guard. Gilliam continued to work for the triangle from his back, but Gardner wouldn’t let him get it. Gardner wasn’t doing a whole lot from the top, but the takedown and top position might’ve given him the round.
Bleacher Report Unofficial Score: 10-9 Gardner
Both fighters exchanged jabs early and then clinched. Gilliam got the takedown and ended up in Gardner’s half-guard. Gardner looked to escape back into guard, but Gilliam was being very active from the top, throwing both to the body and head.
Gilliam looked to control the ground game by placing his knee onto Gardner’s right arm but couldn’t quite get it. Gilliam continued to punch to the body from the top.
The damage he did here was likely with the knowledge that it would wear down Gardner's body through this potentially five-round amateur fight.
Bleacher Report Unofficial Score: 10-9 Gilliam (19-19 overall)
An impressive sprawl from Gardner early which he used to control Gilliam. He then worked from the clinch. Gilliam looked tired in this round and Gardner’s clinch work was able to wear him down even more.
A solid right hand from Gardner landed on the money. Gardner looked like he was going for a flying knee but Gilliam scouted it and shot in. He got the takedown and Gilliam began working from the top.
Gilliam battled and locked in a rear-naked choke with merely seconds remaining in the round. Gardner did his best but couldn’t hold out and finally tapped.
Official Result: Cameron Gilliam defeated Brandon Gardner by submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:59 in Round 3 to become the Driller Promotions / Sterling Entertainment Group Amateur Lightweight Champion
John Castaneda (1-0) vs. Bruce Johnson (11-43)—165 Lb Catch-Weight
John Castaneda finishes Bruce Johnson with a rear-naked choke. (Photo thanks to Kasey Noll of Kasey Jean Photography)
Castaneda's original opponent, Ben Miller, dropped out of the fight just days before the event was set to happen. Without an opponent ready to move up the card to replace him, matchmaker Jeremy Bjornberg turned to veteran fighter Bruce Johnson, who actually holds a knockout win over UFC veteran Pat Schilling.
In addition to the obvious experience advantage that Johnson had, he also out-weighed Castaneda by nearly 15 pounds the day before at weigh-ins. Castaneda had been preparing and weight-cutting for a fight with Miller at 155, but the replacement fight with Johnson took place at a catch-weight of 165.
Castaneda took a couple leg kicks from Johnson but looked to be waiting for his spot to strike. A powerful punch combination from Johnson was partially blocked but mostly just missed. A strong front kick from Castaneda put Johnson against the cage. Castaneda smelled blood and unloaded with a flurry of punches.
Showing his toughness, Johnson was able to stay on his feet. Castaneda pushed him against the cage and looked for the takedown. Johnson escaped and went for a flailing head kick but Castaneda side-stepped it and fell.
Castaneda immediately took his back on the ground. Johnson tried to defend but Castaneda locked up the rear-naked choke, put the hooks in and got the tap even with Johnson's legs elevated against the cage.
Official Result: John Castaneda defeated Bruce Johnson by submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:32 in Round 1
Ryan Sweezer (0-1) vs. Andre Tieva (2-0)—135 Pounds
Andre Tieva [white shorts] nearly takes Ryan Sweezer's head off with a leaping head kick. (Photo thanks to Sandy Hackenmueller of Fight to Finish Photography)
Good flurry from Sweezer early including a knee but Tieva answered with a punch combination of his own. Sweezer landed a nice kick and shot in for the takedown. He brought the fight down to the mat but Tieva stayed calm and quickly swept him.
Tieva worked from the top, throwing some big punches and elbows to Sweezer’s ribs. Sweezer tried to get to his feet but was unable. Tieva went for an arm-triangle but he allowed Sweezer to break loose and sweep him back, this time into mount!
Sweezer unloaded with elbows but allowed Tieva up to his feet in the process. Sweezer moved in and went for a punch but Tieva countered and hit him twice in a row. Good right leg kick from Sweezer.
Leaping knee to the body from Sweezer grazed. Powerful overhand right counter from Tieva found its mark. Nice left jab from Sweezer who continued to pressure. Tieva opened up with a combination that sent Sweezer bouncing away in the final seconds of a very close and active round from both fighters.
Like a few others on this card, this was a very tough round to score due to the sheer number of strikes thrown, the takedown and the sweeps. In the end, I gave the round to Sweezer by a narrow margin.
Bleacher Report Unofficial Score: 10-9 Sweezer
Tieva was very much looking to counter-punch early in this round as he saw how aggressive Sweezer had been on the feet in Round 1. Tieva went for a leaping head kick but didn’t get it and ended up falling down in the process. Sweezer let him back to his feet, though. Nice hooks to the head from both fighters.
Tieva continued to look to counter-punch because of Sweezer’s aggressive style. Every time Sweezer moved in to throw, Tieva would answer with a shot of his own. Good body kick from Tieva but it was answered in even stronger fashion from Sweezer.
Sweezer went for another body kick but Tieva scouted it this time and used it to throw him across the mat and take him down against the cage. Sweezer sat up with his back against the fence. He tried to sweep Tieva but Tieva nearly took his back immediately.
Tieva didn’t give up and eventually got the back, landing a couple punches before locking in a rear-naked choke. Sweezer battled mightily and nearly escaped, but Tieva continued to improve his position, squeezed it tighter and finally got the submission.
This was a great fight from both guys and likely was "Fight of the Night" from most fans.
Official Result: Andre Tieva defeated Ryan Sweezer by submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:14 in Round 2
Rico Washington (6-5) vs. Ben Smith (2-0)—170 Lbs
Ben Smith [right] slips by a punch from Rico Washington before taking him down. (Photo thanks to Sandy Hackenmueller of Fight to Finish Photography)
Spinning back kick attempt from Smith but Washington easily moved out of the way. Another one missed. Washington seemed very hesitant to throw, likely knowing that Smith is an excellent wrestler who would look to take him down.
Smith moved in for a double but Washington backed away without a problem. A solid leg kick from Smith was the first real strike of the fight, nearly halfway through the round. A lunging jab from Smith landed and Washington continued to not be aggressive in his striking.
Another spinning back roundhouse kick from Smith missed by far. Washington seemed to be waiting for Smith to come out and throw punches at him but he just wasn’t coming forward.
Smith finally cornered Washington and shot in for a takedown against the cage. He got Washington down with about 15 seconds left in the round and landed a few punches and elbows before the round ended. The takedown locked up the round for Smith.
Bleacher Report Unofficial Score: 10-9 Smith
Good leg kick from Smith. Washington tried to counter but missed his punches as Smith backed away. Solid left kick to the body from Smith. Washington cornered Smith against the cage but Smith exploded with a double leg that put Washington on his back.
The takedown came with more than half of the round remaining, so Smith had significantly more time to work this round. Smith worked his ground-and-pound, pulling Washington away from the cage when he tried to put his feet on it. Smith hammered Washington’s body in the final seconds of the round.
Bleacher Report Unofficial Score: 10-9 Smith (20-18 Smith overall)
Leg kick from Smith and Washington was looking noticeably more anxious this round. Washington moved in and threw a combination, but it only grazed Smith as he shot in and secured another takedown.
Smith continued with his ground-and-pound like he did last round and Washington just couldn’t do anything to escape. Smith’s wrestling was just too dominant as he placed his knee on Washington’s arm and landed.
Smith moved to north-south which allowed Washington to get his feet on the cage, but he just didn’t have enough energy left to explode out of the position. Smith looked for the north-south choke and Washington was in trouble.
Smith couldn’t secure the submission but Washington simply didn’t have the gas left to get back to his feet. Smith held the position with his right arm while throwing with his left, even using his foot on the cage for additional leverage.
Bleacher Report Unofficial Score: 10-9 Smith (30-27 Smith overall)
Official Result: Ben Smith defeated Rico Washington by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Stephen Watt (2-1) vs. Corwin Nichols (2-1)—155 Lbs
Stephen Watt (left) ducks under a punch from Corwin Nichols. (Photo thanks to Sandy Hackenmueller of Fight to Finish Photography)
One of the most aggressive fighters early in bouts, Corwin Nichols started things off quickly once again with a big right hand that grazed Watt's head. Watt was waiting for Nichols to make a mistake as he had obviously been watching his opponent's tape, but Nichols wasn't going to give him an inch.
Nichols shot in and put Watt’s back against the cage. Watt looked to switch the position but Nichols appeared to be the stronger of the two, as he kept Watt where he wanted him. Good knee from Nichols, who exploded with a few punches and pulled for a guillotine choke.
Watt stayed calm and pulled his head out, then looked to work from the top. Nichols went for a triangle then switched to an armbar, but Watt escaped both and got back on top before moving into side control.
Solid elbows to the abs from Watt. Watt looked to go to mount, but his corner stopped him and told him to stay in side control. He postured up with some punches but Nichols escaped and got back to his feet.
Nichols pushed Watt’s back against the cage again and worked for a takedown. Nichols went for a standing arm triangle then used it to land a solid knee and a hook.
Watt countered with a straight right of his own that caught Nichols and dropped him momentarily. Watt jumped in and eventually took Watt’s back before the round ended.
Bleacher Report Unofficial Score: 10-9 Watt
Grazing right body kick from Nichols. Both fighters exchange straight punches. Nichols with a body kick but Watt got the takedown and ended up on top. Watt let Nichols to his feet. Nichols seemed to be a bit perplexed as to how to attack Watt on the feet as the Valhalla Combat Sports fighter danced around.
Nichols did land a decent combination but Watt didn’t seem affected by it. Watt taunted Nicholas with a shoulder shimmy then tagged him with a solid left jab. Nichols tried to charge in for a clinch but couldn’t quite get it. Strong leg kick from Nichols to Watt’s lead left.
Good counter-left from Watt. Nichols committed for a takedown but Watt easily sprawled away and stood up again, forcing Nichols to get back to his feet. Nichols backed down Watt and landed good punch with Watt’s back against the cage. Watt answered with a big right hand of his own that landed flush and dropped Nichols. Nichols was unable to recover and the referee stopped the bout.
Official Result: Stephen Watt defeated Corwin Nichols by knockout (punch) at 4:21 in Round 2
Ehsan Karam (3-0) vs. Randy Lene (8-2)—135-Lb Amateur Championship
Ehsan Karam locks in the rear-naked choke on Randy Lene, securing the submission late in Round 5. (Photo thanks to Kasey Noll of Kasey Jean Photography)
Right hook to the body immediately from Lene who then moved in and brought Karam down. Karam is a Brazlian jiu-jitsu wizard, though, and was very comfortable on his back. Karam looked for the sweep from his back as Lene pushed his head against the cage. Lene broke free and stood up but Karam defended with some up-kicks.
Lene moved back in and Karam worked his rubber-guard. Lene lifted him up and slammed him down. Karam locked up Lene’s arm and worked for a submission but then used the positioning to get on Lene’s back while still controlling the arm.
The scramble finally ended with Karam ending up in side control. Lene got to his feet but ate a few punches for his trouble. Leg kicks from Karam to end the first round.
Bleacher Report Unofficial Score: 10-9 Karam
More leg kicks from Karam were able to help keep Lene at a distance. Solid body kicks and leg kicks from Karam. Lene was getting frustrated as Karam kept moving away from him. Lene started to open up with his own leg kicks. Karam continued to work the leg kicks, hoping to wear down Lene over the five-round fight.
Lene landed a punch to the body, which seemed to affect Karam a bit. Karam shot in and achieved a takedown against the cage. He quickly moved into side control. Lene worked for a guillotine choke but the positioning not in his favor and Karam easily slipped free. Karam took Lene’s back and looked for the rear-naked choke before the round ended.
Bleacher Report Unofficial Score: 10-9 Karam (20-18 Karam overall)
Lene came out with a little more intensity this round, throwing a head kick and a combination of punches, but Karam seemed to block almost all of it. Leg kick from Lene got countered by a right overhand from Karam. More leg kicks from Karam.
Big body kick from Lene seemed to surprise Karam. They each got a good string of punches with the other fighter’s back against the cage. Karam put Lene against the cage and moved for a takedown again. Lene went for a standing guillotine choke and tripped Karam in the process, with Lene landing in mount.
Karam broke free and eventually swept Lene, putting him right in his own corner. Karam unloaded with punches in the final seconds of the round. Lene looked for an upkick but Karam avoided them and landed a few more punches before the round ended.
Bleacher Report Unofficial Score: 10-9 Karam (30-27 Karam overall)
Lene looked to get his low kicks working more early in this round but he missed with two before Karam answered with two that landed to Lene’s lead left leg. As many kicks as Karam has landed, Lene didn’t appear to be affected by it at this point in the fight.
Both fighters were a bit more hesitant early in this round than they were in the first three. Finally Karam shot in and went for another takedown. A beautiful switch from Lene put Karam on his back. Karam didn’t take any damage from there before achieving another beautiful sweep.
Lene held on for dear life, which didn’t allow Karam to land any punches that had power to them. Karam did throw a few hammerfists and one solid left hand before the round ended.
Bleacher Report Unofficial Score: 10-9 Karam (40-36 Karam overall)
Head kick missed from Lene, then he followed it up with a right kick to the body. Nice double-leg takedown from Lene who seemed to be in desperation mode coming into this round as he felt his title slipping away. Karam took a few punches but eventually achieved yet another sweep and put Lene on his back.
Karam battled from side control. He worked his positioning and eventually moved to mount with about half of the round remaining. Lene was in trouble as he tried to buck him off. He flipped over and gave up his back which allowed Karam to lock in the rear-naked choke. Lene could not escape and was forced to tap.
Official Result: Ehsan Karam defeated Randy Lene by submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:10 in Round 5
In the post-fight, in-cage interview, a very excited yet humble Karam spoke highly of the former champion.
“Randy Lene is a stud," Karam said. "I kind of underestimated his ground game. He’s extremely strong.”
Karam is now 4-0 with all four wins coming by of submission due to rear-naked choke.