Around 840 heads at the Chicken Ranch Casino in Jamestown made an abrupt swivel in Lamar Reed’s direction as the Oakdale MMA Academy fighter entered the facility to the jovial tune of ‘I just can’t wait to be King’ from the Lion King soundtrack.
Bouncing towards the cage with a stuffed lion adorning his dome, Reed certainly attracted plenty of his attention from the Jamestown crowd before his first professional fight.
And he didn’t disappoint them either.
Reed took the wind out of Damon Taylor with a powerful slam in the opening seconds, then landed crushing blows with fists and elbows from the full mount position to achieve a devastating 56-second knockout in his pro debut.
He left the cage with just as much charisma as he entered it, among the chorus of supporting cheers from the big crowd.
“The kids love it, and the fans love it,” Reed said of his Lion King persona. “The song and the hat just make it more entertaining and I am all about putting on a show for the fans.
“I was really happy that everybody appreciated it and was amazed to see all the people supporting me and showing a genuine interest in how I am doing.”
Reed’s win was one of five pro fights and 17 total contests across a pro-am card of MMA contests at Art of War Production’s ‘Death Before Dishonor.’ The card was AOW’s second of its kind since Oakdale MMA Academy instructor Tom Theofanopoulos and match maker Roy Arriola founded the organization.
Oakdale MMA amateur Mike John appeared on the same card, notching his second straight win of a two fight career after a tap-out in the opening round. Oakdale MMA fighter and Oakdale High graduate Randall Wallace also fought on the card, but lost after Devin Johnson stole a unanimous decision in the battle of two 3-0 fighters.
Oakdale MMA’s partner gyms Sonora MMA and Merced MMA also saw victories from Jr.Villanueva (decision), Nathan Shindler (guillotine choke), K.C. Rigmaden (decision), Rudolph Buendia (decision), Mike Thurman (decision) and Rick Gonzales (rear naked choke).
“The show was even better than the first one and everybody enjoyed it a lot,” Theofanopoulos said. “Each time we do the show we have better match making and better organization.
“A lot of the people that went to this show were first-time MMA spectators and I thought it was a huge success.”
John was the first Oakdale MMA fighter to enter the cage. He gained the back of Miguel Quiroz in the opening minute and stayed busy with strikes until Quiroz’s neck was exposed for the choke midway through the round.
Wallace showcased plenty of talent several fights later, and appeared to best fellow unbeaten, Johnson, on his feet.
Johnson countered by landing takedowns in each round to control the fight, though he did little damage from the top position. Since Wallace failed to end or control the fight, he lost the decision on the judge’s scorecards.
“I always see losses as a benefit because that’s how we learn anything,” Theofanopoulos said. “Randall was careless and (got) caught up trying to please the crowd with a knockout. Anytime you do that you are susceptible to being taken down.”
Reed, a two-time NAIA All American wrestler and amateur state MMA champion, said he was happy to fight closer to his natural weight after moving up to fight in a division over 180 pounds as an amateur. The change in weight was obvious as soon as he got his clutches on Taylor in the opening seconds.
“I was used to fighting bigger guys and training with bigger guys, so when I picked him up and he went so high into the air I was kind of surprised and thought ‘this is going to be fun’,” Reed said. “I really feel like I can be a dominant force in these lower weights.”
Though Taylor was game for the fight, he was also experiencing his pro debut with little the prestige of Reed’s next opponent. On May 18, Reed squares off with former California high school state wrestling champion, Lewis Gonzales, at Up and Comers Unlimited 10 at the Stockton Memorial Civic Center.
Gonzales is 2-0 in his pro career and tested his own skills by submitting Justin Baesman (8-2) with punches in November of 2011. Gonzales is reputed to be a skilled fighter who puts pressure on his opponents with relentless strikes and takedown attempts.
“It’s going to be an unbelievable fight,” UPC Unlimited president Jason Weiner said. “They are two well-known names in the area and it should be a real good fight for both competitors.”
Tickets to UPC10 can be bought through Reed, or online at upcunlimted.com. AOW Productions expects to host another card at the Chicken Ranch Casino on June 30.