Another memorable night of fighting is in the books and the Legacy FC promotion’s debut venture into the state of New Mexico has concluded. As the dust settles there will be significant storylines that will emerge and it is likely that a lot of the local MMA landscape will have long-term ramifications stemming directly from Legacy FC 30.
Sitting several rows deep into the auditorium style venue, I had a very unique experience sitting in the stands for the event. I was able to feel the buzz in the crowd, identify high and low points, and see how full the Route 66 Casino was throughout the fight card. This April 4th event will definitely stick in the minds of the hardcore local fans as there was so much to absorb and discuss going forward.
While many are going to talk of the main event featuring Holly Holm and Juliana Werner for the Legacy FC Women’s Bantamweight Title, I believe the most significant storylines are buried within the professional main card namely the fight between FIT NHB’s Ray Borg and Jackson-Winkeljohn product Nick Urso. Many heading into the bout thought that Nick Urso was one fight out from being in the UFC and while that may have been true, very few fans outside of the FIT NHB support circle gave Ray Borg much of a chance in the bout.
National media gave attention to Urso, as he trains out of the Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn gym and trains alongside such fighters as John Dodson; our site appreciated the talents of Urso as well, labeling him one of New Mexico’s premier talents and top prospects. Urso was favored on most online forums and as mentioned previously, he was thought to be one fight out from the UFC Flyweight ranks. On the flip side, FIT NHB has never received the same attention as their counterparts down the road and Borg, while many believed he was talented they still pointed to the fact he wasn’t aligned too a world-renowned gym and world-class training partners.
Ray Borg put on a performance of a lifetime last night against Nick Urso, he was able to secure several takedowns and work effectively from top position. Urso hung tough and was able to mount his own offense but even from his usual powerful top position, Borg was able to sweep Urso and reverse position. Threatening a choke in the first round, Borg was able to show his highly-hyped talent was more than just regionally impressive as he would continue to win the fight in the second round before locking in the fight ending choke.
We will cover Borg’s win more in-depth this weekend and week, first here are some post-fight thoughts coming out of Legacy FC 30.
Holly Holm put on a kick-heavy performance and dominated throughout the five round title bout. She threw just about every kind of kick a fighter could possible unleash and she beat up Werner from the head down to the legs. The kicking arsenal of Holm has to throw her name in discussion for possessing the best kicks in the history of WMMA. I don’t recall a women fighter being so successful and so versatile in a kicking attack.
It was announced today that Holm suffered a fracture to her arm, and while that may be the reason for her kicking-heavy approach to the fight, it has to be mentioned that either Werner was as tough as a fighter comes or Holm just couldn’t find the homerun shot last night. Yes Holm won by another highlight reel knockout, but it seemed as if Holm could have finished Werner at any point last night in any of the four rounds prior to the KO.
I have always received negative backlash from promoters and managements teams for airing opinions like this but I will go ahead and say what a lot of people are thinking. We want Holm fighting someone well-known in the WMMA community. I am sure it is more difficult than we think but I can’t fully believe that there wasn’t a better title fight to make for Legacy FC then a women who wasn’t in the Legacy FC promotion and fought outside of the 135-pound weight class. (Werner is a 125-pound fighter) Holm vs. Cris “Cyborg” Santos would do the trick but if Holm’s name is going to be mentioned alongside UFC Champion Ronda Rousey’s then she needs to fight competition that will speak that she is ready for that step-up.
Holm is arguably the best WMMA striker currently competing, she has tremendous footwork and ability to gauge distance. Werner hit Holm very few times in the 20+ minutes they were in the cage and Holm’s in-cage talents are tremendous. I have said this in the past, but Holm vs. Invicta FC Champion Lauren Murphy would be the best fight for Holm to show the MMA world she is ready for the Rousey’s, Sara McMann’s, and Cat Zingano’s.
The ring announcer labeling Holm as the best Woman Fighter of All-Time after her fight really left a sour taste in my mouth. She may be the best in New Mexico, but it is very disrespectful and ignorant to completely disregard the top women fighters of WMMA who are currently fighting on the sport’s biggest stage. Holm is rightfully a New Mexico sport’s icon and even arguably the best combat athlete in New Mexico but that could have been left out during the celebration.
As mentioned above, Borg took a methodical grappling approach to defeating Nick Urso. Mike Winkeljohn, the coach of Holm, Carlos Condit, and Urso spoke very strongly at the press conference announcing this event. He took the podium to say that Urso would run through Ray Borg in their fight and they knew Borg was a pretty good wrestler. Borg may have taken that sentiment to heart as he out-wrestled, grappled and out-struck the Jackson-Winkeljohn product during their bout.
Borg’s single leg is a sight to see; he gets deep on the leg and he really commits to getting the takedown. For someone who didn’t come from a successful wrestling background, Borg is a true enigma when it comes to MMA talents. Borg, noticeably the smaller fighter was able to control and impose his will on Urso when the fight hit the ground. By the time the second round rolled around, it was apparent it was only a matter of time before he caught something on the ground.
On a side note, I got a lot of negative feedback for picking Borg to defeat Urso back in November in our hypothetical Flyweight Grand Prix (Here) but I was spot-on when I said the wrestling and grappling of Borg would be the difference maker in a fight between the two. Out of respect, I refrain from picking finishes when locals fight locals but the longer the fight goes on with Borg on the mat, the more likely a submission victory will happen. Borg almost finished the fight via ground and pound and if it wasn’t for the resilience of Urso he would have.
I expect big things for Borg forthcoming, I would be surprised if the “Taz-Mexican” hasn’t already gotten some phone calls. New Mexico should be proud in that a home-grown product earned a career defining victory. The undefeated FIT NHB fighter now carries the torch for his team as being able to produce a top talent who has dominated the regional scene, defeated a top fighter from a top gym and now will be poised to start knocking on the door of the big shows.
The night wasn’t a memorable one for the Jackson-Winkeljohn gym as they went 1-3-1 on the night with the lone win being Holm’s title victory. The card was Jackson-Winkeljohn heavy and they were unable to come out with more than that lone win. No team really stood out on the night outside of FIT NHB who just had Borg in competition as Judgement MMA and the other locals had mixed results.
Adrian Cruz and Henry Briones fought to a draw which was definitely the right decision. Judgement MMA’s Adrian Cruz looked terrific in the first round, showcasing amazing scrambling abilities and an impressive display of finding a way to get top position. It seemed as if Cruz tired in the last two rounds allowing Briones to take over. Briones was deducted a point for his third offense of hitting to the back of the head and that would be the most significant point of the fight. I would be on board for a rematch between the two as I believe they both have a lot more to show if they fought again.
Bushido MMA and Nick Diaz Academy representative Martin Sano Jr. indulged in a game of “Rock’em Sock’em” with Jackson-Winkeljohn fighter Clint Roberts. The two swung with ill-will to start the fight and the high pace was continued throughout the round. In the second round, a slowed Roberts started taking big shots from Sano Jr. and it looked as if the fight was swaying towards the El Paso based fighter. Roberts would slip on a high-kick and Sano Jr. pounced to get a rear-naked choke finish.
Donald Sanchez joined the ranks of the Jackson-Winkeljohn camp after his last bout in 2013 and he put on a solid performance against Brazilian Flavio Alvaro. While he came up short on the judge’s scorecards, Sanchez showed he still has that aggressive and dominating offensive onslaught that he had during his time with King of the Cage and FIT NHB. He looked very accurate in the fight and didn’t show any signs of tiring.
Sanchez dropped Alvaro several times during their bout, once in the first round and emphatically in the third. If Sanchez had one more minute to work in that final frame, I believe he could have picked up a TKO or KO. Alvaro used his wrestling to win the fight and I am still excited to see Sanchez continue in his progression as a fighter.
Lenny Lovato Jr. came in over weight for his bout with Blackzillian Kamaru Usman but it wasn’t until late that those effects made the difference. While Usman implored a clinch heavy attack, Lovato hung tough landing counter punches to keep Usman from really getting comfortable in his stand-up. Usman finished a slowed Lovato Jr. in the third round and if Lovato Jr. continues his MMA career, he needs to come in on weight and definitely think about taking fights at 155-pounds.
It wasn’t a good night for the Lovato cousins as Mikey Lovato lost a close decision to Belen’s Gene Perez. It was truly a style mismatch as Lovato worked his wrestling while Perez defended and let out his own offense through strikes. Perez did a great job at fighting from underneath Lovato and that may have been the difference. I scored the fight for Lovato but there were definitely some hard rounds to score.
Apparently Gene Perez verbally submitted after landing awkward off of a takedown and referee Joe Coca didn’t hear or act upon it. The Lovato camp has expressed interest in the Athletic Commission to look into it and possibly keep that from happening in the future. It was unfortunate but mistakes are often made, it just makes you feel bad for the losing fighter.
The standout fight from the amateur undercard was Judgement MMA’s Jesse Sandoval who absolutely barraged his opponent with knees and uppercuts from the clinch. It was ferocious and very mature for an amateur fighter to showcase the ability to control a fight methodically from such a close range.
The crowd buzzed for Holm as our hometown audience always does, it was extremely loud and each time Holm fights it solidifies that she is New Mexico’s most adored athlete. The crowd was very hyped up for Donald Sanchez, the Borg/Urso bout and for Adrian Cruz. Holm, Sanchez, and Cruz represent the three most popular fighters with the most supportive fan bases in the state and they were solid choices to help pack the Route 66 Casino. It wasn’t sold-out but the venue was nearly full and loud and the buzz of a Holm fight is always exciting to experience.
Legacy FC 30 was a great show full of good fights. The outcome of the events will shape the landscape, in fact change it going forward which will label the event for being monumental for the local MMA scene.
Legacy FC 30 Quick Results:
Main Event: Holly Holm defeats Julianna Werner via TKO (Head Kick And Punches) Round 5
Flavio Alvaro defeats Donald Sanchez via Judge’s Decision (Unanimous)
Ray Borg defeats Nick Urso via Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) Round 2
Adrian Cruz Draw Henry Briones (Scorecards 29-27 Cruz, 29-28 Briones, 28-28)
Martin Sano defeats Clint Roberts via Submission(Rear-Naked Choke) Round 2
Gene Perez defeats Mikey Lovato via Judge’s Decision (Unanimous)
Kamaru Usman defeats Lenny Lovato Jr. via TKO (Strikes) Round 3
Denton Comyford defeats Stacy Cly via Submission Round 1