Garcia Promotions returned to the Humble Civic Center for Cage Combat 21. There were 15 fights, including 3 title fights. The evening started off with two debut fighters, Mekenzie McCune and Leicester Rivera. McCune was able to get the fight to the ground and finish his opponent via rear-naked choke quickly, and with ease.
The second fight between Michael Rodriguez and Ricky Kieng was full of action from the opening bell. Kieng was the more technical striker, but Rodriguez was able to push the pace and wear Kieng down to earn the decision victory. Following that fight, Cody Owens caught Taylor Shoffit with a right hand bomb that ended his night in the first round. Shoffit showed good striking, even landed some solid shots on Owens’ chin, but Owens stayed composed and didn’t bat an eye.
The fourth fight between Christopher Haire and Chris Perez was the classic striker versus wrestler match. Haire wasted no time looking to get Perez to the ground, and Perez was never able to get going in the fight. Haire would earn the decision. Next, EJ Turner would earn his second consecutive stoppage, when he finished Brian Murphy in the second round. Turner was able to counter strike Murphy before landing a solid liver kick. Murphy couldn’t recover and Turner finished with some ground and pound.
The following two fights lack the action the crowd had seen thus far. Dequette Reed and James White threw a few flurries in spurts, but neither committed to anything. White would earn a split decision win. Then there was Santiago Guzman versus Derrick Ageday. Ageday used his wrestling to control the majority of the fight, and earned a decision win.
The eighth fight was another pair of fighters making their debuts, Cameron Bodrey and Alejandra Zuniga. These two slugged it out from the get go. In the third round, Zuniga landed the harder blows, and Bodrey wasn’t defending herself intelligently, so the ref stepped in and stopped the fight. The next bout between Nick Gay and Alonzo Sanchez took place on the ground for the majority of the fight. The first round had Gay with top position landing ground and pound. Then in the second round, Sanchez was about to get control, and eventually submitted Gay with a rear-naked choke. Following that, Giron also locked in a submission; he was able to sink in a guillotine choke on Tim Cormier in the second round. Then, Ryan Connelly was able to lock in a rear-naked choke on Steve Jones in the second round. And in the last fight before the three title fights, Aaron Vickers and Luis Ibarra was building up to be a fun fight. Vickers was able to use his range and keep Ibarra at the end of his punches, but in the second round there was a scramble on the mat, and Ibarra injured his knee. The fight was waved off and the doctors came in to check Ibarra.
The first title fight was Steven Vera and Jake Heffernan for the vacant bantamweight championship, partially. Jake Heffernan failed to make the 135lb weight limit, causing him to ineligible to win the belt. If Vera were to win though, he would earn the belt for making weight. This fight would end up earning Fight of the Night. Both guys came out looking to impose their will. Vera, who had a 5in height advantage, was able to use his rang on the feet, but eventually Heffernan would get the fight to the ground and land some solid strikes. There was a point halfway through the fight where Vera had a clinch on the cage and landed a non-reinforced knee to Heffernan’s head. One of the cageside doctors thought Heffernan was out on his feet and attempted to wave off the fight. After a brief halt in action do to the mistake of the physician, the fight was restarted, and this seemed to change the tide of the fight. Vera seemed to slow in the championship rounds, and also didn’t throw as many punches; he would later mention he may have broken his hand during the fight. Heffernan didn’t seem to slow, and landed some big shots, even dropping Vera at one point. Vera was able to survive, but Heffernan would get the decision win.
The second title fight was a defense of the lightweight title. Jonathan Bacon stepped up last minute for Dayron Vasquez, to face the champion Leroy Vasquez. Bacon showed toughness and heart, even landed some good shots, but was ultimately outmatched by Vasquez. Vasquez stalked Bacon around the cage for five rounds, picking shots, and even getting takedowns, which led to a unanimous decision.
The main event put two undefeated fighters for the vacant welterweight title. Morgan Oriahi (3-0) and Craig Grove (4-0) was expected to be a standup fight, and most didn’t think the fight would leave the first round taking into account their track records. The fight started standing, but it was Grove who would land the power shots. Oriahi felt Grove’s power, and knew his jaw wouldn’t be able to take those kinds of shots; he repeatedly shot in for takedowns. Oriahi peppered Grove with punches on the ground, but never did any real damage. This process repeated throughout the fight, Grove couldn’t seem to stop the takedowns. Grove nearly knocked Oriahi out in the fourth round with a big left hook, but Oriahi’s desperation takedown saved him. Grove had several attempts to finish the fight, but Oriahi was able to survive, and win the welterweight title.
Fight Night Awards
FOTN: Jake Heffernan and Steven Vera
KOTN: Cody Owens
SOTN: Ryan Connelly