Driving into Lordsburg, New Mexico Saturday night, fight fans knew they were in for a thunderous evening. Desert storm clouds were rolling and lighting was splitting the sky with torrents of rain pouring down.
Little did fans know that the weather in the sky would not be able to rival what would take place inside Shane Dunagan’s cage for his latest event “Warriors”.
Xtreme Courage Fighting Championships is a mainstay in the humble town of Lordsburg. It is the premier amateur event in the area. A few times a year, Dunagan and his team put on some of the best fights around.
This past weekend was no exception.
“Warriors” was a stellar amateur line up of fighters representing gyms from all over the southwest. Fighters from Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona were in attendance. They put on an outstanding show with plenty of thunder and lighting to rival the desert sky.
One notable fight was the XCFC debut of up-and-comer, Chris Esparza. This Apex MMA trained fighter has an extremely impressive wrestling base, and like his older brother Larry, a deep trust in his corner.
With names like Rocco DePalo and Joey Rivera giving instruction it is no surprise he did so well. Fighting at 170 pounds, Chris was truly towered over by his opponent Matt Levesque of El Paso TX.
For a fighter like Chris that made no difference what so ever. Chris is built on a powerful frame and he used his strengths to his advantage. He muscled and over powered Levesque with furious take downs, and dominating ground control.
Pulling out a unanimous decision Chris showed great promise for the future. Not only through winning and dominating, but through defending multiple submission and escape attempts by his opponent.
The humble Esparza stated after his match that he knew he had plenty to work on for next time and he was very proud of the win. So were his trainers, and his family who all carry great pride in the the Esparza brothers, both of whom are promising fighters.
Believe me, after seeing the grit and promise of both, it is pride well placed.
Another Apex fighter that really left a lasting impression was Branna Larkin. Ms. Larkin made her MMA debut under Shane Dunagan’s banner Saturday night. If no one had told you, you could have sworn she was a seasoned veteran.
Larkin squared off with a very talented and dangerous Courtney Casey out of El Paso TX. Casey has made a name for herself as an aggressive and technical fighter. She is more than a handful for any opponent.
When these two got to rolling at 135 pounds, things quickly turned to Casey’s favor as she secured a deep triangle choke on Larkin. We are talking the type of choke that many fighters would have tapped over.
Larkin showed how extremely game and how technical she is. She maintained composure and fought her way through the triangle to eventually take side control. It was an amazing display of heart and ability that wont soon be forgotten.
Larkin continued using her superior grappling to control the fight and avoid submission attempts as she battled her way to victory with a very respectable opponent in Courtney Casey. It was a very competitive and technical fight.
It was a fight that had Larkin’s coach, Ed West of Bellator’s upcoming bantamweight tournament, smiling like a kid on Christmas morning.
The humble Branna Larkin talked with Hurtsbad.com about her first MMA victory. “I feel really good about it. It was my first fight, I was really nervous. I’ve done a lot of other competitions but never anything like that," she said.
Well hats off to you Ms. Larkin, you made your corner and your camp very proud. Your nerves didn't show at all, only your heart and skill. God help women’s MMA when you get further training and cage experience under your belt.
It was not just out-of-towners showcasing their MMA prowess for fight fans. Lordsburg’s very own Fernando Chavez pulled off the slickest submission of the night with a filthy armbar that could rival any UFC highlight.
In what was a very fluid fight between Chavez and the extremely talented Javier Borjon of Tucson, Chavez was able to secure the mount and rain down strikes. This caused Borjon to lift his arms in defense, and Chavez snatched the arm and rolled to the side, text book BJJ.
It was beautiful. No disrespect to a very game and talented Javier Borjon, who clearly wasn't ready to tap. But while he may have argued an early stoppage, the third man in the cage, Joe Valencia is meticulous with regard to how he calls a fight.
Valencia is a mainstay and strong representative of the New Mexico State Athletic commission. And he is the boss when he’s in a cage, a true professional. And while Borjon may have wanted to continue, his pride will heal faster than his arm might have had Valencia not stopped Chavez from applying pressure.
Chavez had this to say about his submission win in front of his home crowd. “It feels good, I have a lot of fan support, a lot of family support. It’s a good atmosphere to fight in front of your home crowd, it’s something different.”
You made them all proud Mr Chavez with an excellent submission over a scrappy opponent.
Also in the co-main and main events, Michael Moore retained his 155 pound title in a five round war with Beto Torres. These guys never gave up and both had strong moments, but Moore was named champ for a reason. It showed when he had his hand raised after five rounds of combat.
Ricky Varela of Team Courage won the vacant Xtreme Super Heavyweight title with a TKO over the heavy-handed and very dangerous Gabe Dominguez. The title was recently held by Francisco Valenzuela who relinquished it to further challenge himself.
Varela made short work of Dominguez stopping him by TKO in the first round. He and his camp were very proud to take that strap back home with them Saturday night.
Official Joe Valencia had this to say after calling such a great line up as the third man in the cage. “As always Shane Dunagan puts on the best mixed martial arts events that I’ve attended in a long time. I was very pleased to be here, very honored. The fighters are good guys, good fighters, who train hard, it’s an honor to be in the cage with them.”
All in all a great evening of fights that offered a little bit of everything. There really is nothing quite like sitting at Shane Dunagan’s XCFC, with a green chile burro in your hands, lighting and thunder permeating the night sky, and spectacular fights going on just feet away.
Hopefully you made it out, if you didn't, don't let it happen again.
For more information on the fights, or the XCFC, visit their website xcfc.us .
This article orginally featured at Hurtsbad.com