Fight fans flocked into the Merced County Fairgrounds to cheer on local amateur mixed martial arts action over the weekend. The hard-hitting four-hour event, Hoplite Fight Productions’ “Finished: No Judges Required” took place on Saturday night, July 18.
Eleven fights, featuring fighters from Oakdale, Escalon, Fremont, Turlock and other various California locations, saw them enter the octagon and compete in front of their fans.
A pair of Last Stand fighters claimed vacant titles as Anthony “Homicide” Howard took home the men’s flyweight championship and Brit “Boogeyman” Lippencot walked away with the welterweight title. Howard clashed with Jose Navarro in a physical, intense battle that would go the distance. After round one the crowd became vocal in support of the local hero and chants of “Let’s Go Howard” could be heard throughout the building. Howard attempted to put away Navarro late in the second round as he had Navarro pushed against the cage and onto the mat delivering hammer fists until the horn sounded to end the round. Much like the first two rounds, Howard and Navarro punished each other with kicks and takedowns in round three. In the final 20 seconds of the fight, Howard found himself on top of Navarro delivering heavy blows to his opponent’s ribs and head. After a hard fought battle, the judges deliberated and turned in their scorecards with a result of 29-28 Howard; 29-28 Navarro and 29-28 Howard.
“I just came in there fired up man, I knew he was scared of me, never looked me in the eye the whole night,” Howard said of his opponent. “I will say that he fought a good fight, he took me down a few times, but I thought to myself that I trained too hard to lose tonight.”
With the win, Howard improved his record to 4-0.
Lippencot put his perfect 3-0 record on the line while trying to claim the vacant welterweight title. Standing in his way was Anthony Robles, who entered the octagon with a 2-1 record. The two battled it out with high intensity, the battle filled with kicks and strikes by both competitors. Lippencot came out aggressive in round two delivering a spin heel kick to the side of the face of Robles. Robles survived round two, but was taken out midway through the final round when Lippencot dropped Robles to one knee after delivering vicious strikes to the face and head as the referee stopped the fight one minute and thirty-nine seconds into the third round, resulting in a TKO.
“It feels awesome, and great. Words cannot describe how I feel right now. I just wanted to stay focused, tune out the crowd, my family and everyone else and imagine just him (Robles) and myself battling it out. He is a good guy, and I appreciate the chance to fight him,” shared Lippencot moments after his championship performance.
In the women’s flyweight division, Oakdale’s Antoinette Bernal (3-4) took on Brooke “Bully” Mayo (5-1) of Pleasanton. Both warriors came out with kicks and body shots and engaged the crowd with their intensity. Mayo finished the first round with Bernal against the cage and delivered hard knees to Bernal’s thighs and midsection until the horn sounded. The fight came to an abrupt end 26 seconds into the third round, when Mayo caught Bernal with a kick to the , sending Bernal to the mat, where Mayo followed up with hard hit to the face resulting in a TKO.
“I guess I didn’t train hard enough, my cardo let me down. I will train harder the next time,” Bernal said after gathering herself.
In a highly anticipated bout between a pair of young, local newcomers to the sport, Escalon’s Daniel “Spasmodic” Wehner took on Turlock’s Brandon Bettencourt. Both fighters entered the night with just one fight each under their belt, each in search of their first victory. The southpaw wrestler from Turlock controlled much of the fight including an early takedown in the first round. The two battled it out until Bettencourt landed heavy right and left fist combinations and dropped Wehner to one knee 34 seconds into the final round where the official stopped the fight. Wehner bounced up immediately and was surprised to see the fight was stopped.
In other action, a pair of fighters made their debut as Leo Ramos defeated Juan Salcedo in bantamweight action by a unanimous judge’s decision. Sonora’s Ricky Gonzalez earned a split decision over Austin Smith in a welterweight clash. Daniel “The Hulk” Austin improved to 2-0 after claiming victory over Edward “The Warrior” Mackey (0-2) with a third round submission via rear naked choke. Michael Alonso (2-1) defeated Trey Branch (2-4) by TKO in the final seconds of the first round during their bantamweight fight. Duke Creech Jr. (1-1) took on newcomer Robert Hurson. Creech Jr. ended the fight in the first round with a rear naked choke. Closing out the night was Joseph Ramirez (6-0) and Millard Letu (4-3) for the light heavyweight title. Ramirez finished off Letu one minute twelve seconds into the first round via guillotine, capturing the vacant title.