Shane Dunagan held an event this past Saturday that was nothing short of astonishing, considering the humble nature of the venue. The Xtreme Courage Fighting Championships saw its latest installment Havoc grasp the crowd and hold them tightly from fight one to fight 12.
On a fight card filled with hungry and aspiring MMA amateurs, there were submissions upon submissions and knockouts that had the crowd roaring like a mega arena full of fight fans. But this was just a small park across the tracks in Lordsburg, NM, how could they get so many fight fans to show up and rock the desert air with their cheers?
Class, dignity, honor, and most importantly, safety is what brought both fighters and fight fans alike and packed them into North Park like sardines. And, of course, top notch fights.
See, this isn't your run of the mill, flashy casino style event. This was MMA at its purist. Master Shane Dunagan would not have it any other way. He prides himself on the exciting fights he puts on.
These fights are a direct result of his hard work to pair up fighters that are equal in talent and experience, and also able to put on a great show. His efforts reflect in the quality of the fights.
This was a cage, a DJ, some refreshments, and some really great fights. No beer, no lasers, no knuckleheads in the crowd to run their mouths, this was just solid MMA and nothing more.
Shane set myself and my photographer up at a table cage side right next to the red corner. This experience opened up a whole new aspect of MMA that one does not get sitting at home, or even live in the front row.
To hear and see the intricate inner working of both the corners and the staff around the fights was quite rewarding and eye opening. One of the most crucial aspects of the night was the flawless officiating by Joe Valencia, a true professional, whose approach was impeccable.
I've been watching MMA for over a decade and this guy was one of the most impressive officials I have ever seen. Hats off to Shane for employing a top-shelf official for his events. It made a huge impact on the nature of the event.
Another notable aspect was the honor apparent at this event. There was a level of expectation that can only be achieved by years of setting a tone of respect and dignity. Shane has obviously done that, because to a man every person involved in this event was a class act. From fighters to corner-men, no one got out of line, no one displayed disrespect. Not even the fans. That in itself is a rarity.
In a fight for the Jr. Lightweight Title, Justin Berryhill lost his belt to a very impressive J.D. Aguilar. Berryhill was a crowd favorite and a great fighter but fell to the superior ground game of Aguilar. It was not for lack of trying though.
The two rolled and reversed their way through three rounds of absolute war. Positions were traded time and time again with few lulls in the action. In the end, Aguilar kept getting the better of the exchanges and came out on top with a rear naked choke in the third round.
In probably the knockout of the night, two behemoths entered the cage and squared off for what would turn out to be a short fight. Pat Whelton weighing in at 300 lbs faced off with Gabe Dominguez at 285. When the bell rung, these giants came out swinging and it was obvious someone was going night night.
Whelton got caught and dropped his hands as if to say it did not hurt. The two piece and a biscuit that followed did hurt him. A beautiful combo by Dominguez ended his night. Nothing lights up a crowd like a 300lb man getting starched.
Another amazing knockout came in the championship match between Jesus Padron and Justin Felix. Padron holds belts for the LHW and the HW classes. On this night, he was defending his HW strap. In a great back and forth battle, he controlled most of the match.
At one point, Felix maneuvered to Padron's back while the two were standing, and Jesus was having none of that. He grabbed the arm around his neck, and proceeded to flip Felix down on his head knocking him out when he hit the mat. It was a very technical move that displayed not only his drive to win in any circumstances but his level of talent.
In a move not seen by many fight promotions, the main event was held between two very game female fighters. Maggie Maldonado squared off with Courtney Casey, and as soon as Mr. Valencia allowed the fight to commence, the fireworks started.
In a heated, fast-paced back and forth fight these two ladies did the deed and went to work on each other. Eventually with a lightning fast submission, Casey came out with an arm-bar. Maldonado was as game as any fighter I've seen and with hints of Gracie honor refused to tap.
Thank goodness for Valencias recognition of the hold and his stopping the fight, because Maldonado was not tapping. He saved her some rehab time, but she still earned her respect. Of course, so did Casey for coming out on top with a slick submission to end the night, and what could have been submission of the night.
Overall, we're talking about an event that breaks the mold when considering the norm. Most folks travel to their local casino to see this fight or that. Shane Dunagan and the XCFC put on fights great enough to get the same crowd out to the middle of no where.
In the process, he puts on equally good if not blatantly superior fights for his fans. It might seem strange to drive off into the desert and watch one of these events, but once your leaving Lordsburg, you can't wait to get back.