Kelly McGill has arrived.
On a night at the Chicken Ranch Casino where Oakdale High graduate Buddy Wallace claimed the Art of War professional mixed martial arts championship belt and Oakdale MMA teammates combined for four emphatic victories, the show was stolen by a 17-year-old girl who is a Gregori High school senior.
And she did it in seven seconds.
McGill, one of Oakdale MMA’s top young talents, collapsed Rachel Andrade to the canvas with a thunderous punch before the capacity crowd could take a collective breath.
The seven-second victory in her mixed martial arts debut said more than the ensuing roar of fight fans ever could.
“My dad has this joke that I can’t hurt my moneymaker — which is the face,” McGill said with a laugh following the match. “So I was trying to do that and not get hit in the face.
“As it turned out I didn’t even get touched.”
McGill’s knockout came during one of 19 amateur and professional fights across the exciting “Game Face-Respect the Game” fight card in Jamestown.
The event featured former Mustang wrestler and football player, Wallace, who didn’t disappoint in front of family and friends despite a late change in his opponent. Wallace was scheduled to fight MMA veteran Josh Thornburg, but settled for a bout with seven-year professional Joel Crawford, who Wallace downed from the full-mount position with a first round referee stoppage (technical knockout). The win awarded Wallace the vacant AOW middleweight championship belt.
“I give props to the guy for taking the fight on short notice, but I have a lot of fans here and there was no way I wasn’t taking this belt tonight,” Wallace said. “But I wouldn’t be here now without my Last Stand Fight Team teammates and instructor (AOW co-founder Tom Theofanopoulos).”
Wallace (4-0) impressed his well-known teammate, Michael McDonald, an Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight training for his own title fight in the UFC (vs. Renan Barão on Feb. 16.) McDonald was present to support his teammates and promote AOW MMA.
“Buddy is a sponge,” McDonald said after the card. “That guys soaks up every bit of information. He is a very humble guy who learns from everything you tell him.”
Wallace was the second Oakdale MMA fighter to end a bout with a belt in tow. Mercedes Campos successfully defended the AOW amateur straweight championship belt by staggering Serina Soto with strikes before landing a thrilling second-round arm bar.
Other amateur belts were claimed by Luis Jauregui (rear-naked-choke over David Mendez) and Justine Estrada (TKO of Dona Castro). Robert Ballard of Lodi’s Cesar Gracie Fight Team TKO’d Oscar Martinez to win the professional welterweight championship belt.
The card also featured an exciting amateur appearance from Utah’s Braeden Kilpack, a promising prospect from an Absolute MMA camp based out of Salt Lake City.
Kilpack stunned Mike Scott with violent head and body kicks, peppering him early and often in a convincing three-round decision that never went to the ground but often sent Scott reeling.
Kilpack made the trek with his coaches, a sparring partner and a collection of family and friends (some who drove 12 hours to attend).
“It was awesome,” Kilpack said. “It was kind of cool to get out of my element and focus on my fight.”
Kilpack’s instructor, Robert Handley, spent a week teaching at Oakdale MMA and Sonora MMA prior to the fight. He said a longstanding friendship with Theofanopoulos made the fight possible.
“I try to get my guys as much experience as possible, whether it’s a local fight we have in Salt Lake or traveling to fight in other states,” Handley said. “I happen to have a good relationship here in Oakdale and it’s a place I have been coming to for 10 years.
“When I was told they were going to do fights I decided to bring my fighters out here.”
Oakdale MMA fighters were represented in three other amateur debuts. Darrek Smith appeared comfortable on his feet in the second fight of the night, but couldn’t avoid the takedown of Alfonso Perez and dropped his first fight by a one-sided decision despite suffering little damage.
Salvador Bacera of Oakdale MMA made it a triumphant appearance in the cage five fights later when his heavy strikes knocked Maurice Dickensen out on his feet just a minute, 31 seconds into the fight.
His teammate, Justin Lavender, kept the success going in his own debut by rallying to overwhelm Rene Del Rio with three rounds of dominant strikes for an easy decision two fights later.
Art of War returns to the cage and the Chicken Ranch Casino on March 2 for a card that includes Oakdale MMA fighters Martin Sandoval and Justin Smitely. Wallace and McGill both expect to fight in the event as well.