Written by The MMA Corner contributing writer Mike Temple

“Kick Down 94: Pride and Glory” took place on July 16 at the Red Lion Hotel in Denver, Colo. Ten fights on the night gave the eager crowd plenty of reasons to jump out of their seats and chant for their favorite fighters. Six TKOs, a submission and three decision wars gave everyone in attendance exactly what they’ve come to expect from the truly professional shows that Steve Alley and company put on.

The main event saw Vellore Caballero (11-6) and Matt Vigil (9-4) vie for the Kick Down professional featherweight title.  In round one, Caballero controlled the distance with stinging jabs. Vigil shot for a takedown and ate a knee to the mug for his trouble. Caballero got a takedown of his own from the clinch against the cage and followed with a few punches until Vigil gave up his back. Less than a minute later, Vigil tapped to a rear-naked choke, with the end coming at 2:36 of round one. Caballero is now the Kick Down professional featherweight champ thanks to his Submission of the Night performance.

The co-headliner found Jack Johnson (3-2) defending his Universal Fight Alliance professional lightweight title against Larry Williams (3-0).

The first stanza saw a great assortment of strikes and clinch work from Johnson. Williams got the takedown, however, and moved to full mount. Johnson reversed immediately, postured up and rained down punches for the remainder of the round.

In the second frame, Williams landed a nice combination of punches and Johnson successfully goes for the takedown. Williams reversed and then gets reversed himself two seconds later. Johnson sparsely uses some ground-and-pound until the round ends.

Jack Johnson pounds on Larry Williams (Credit: Phil Lambert)

The third round opens with a big punching exchange that has both fighters stunned and looking for other options. Williams got a takedown, but is reversed immediately. Johnson used can opener attempts to sneak in elbows and punches while defending consistent arm bar attempts from Williams.

Moving into the championship rounds, Johnson opened the fourth stanza with a quick takedown, but must defend a guillotine attempt from Williams. They stand briefly with Johnson going for his own guillotine, which he transitioned to a takedown and eventually to full mount. A fatigued Johnson slowly went for an arm bar, but lost position and ended up on his back – only to get another reversal. Johnson sat back sluggishly for an achilles hold and lost position, but reversed again before the bell. He oughta change his fight name to “Reversal of Fortune” … ha … it’s funny cuz he gets a lot of reversals … and it’s fortunate … never mind.

In the fifth and final round, Williams knew he was down on the scorecards and came out with guns blazin’. Johnson scored the takedown, but Williams kicked him off like a weaker, younger sibling. Johnson secured another takedown moments later. Williams attempted another armbar and used it to get a reversal of his own. As time expires, an exhausted Williams threw a few more punches.

In the end, the judges sided with Jack Johnson by unanimous decision (49-46, 50-45, 50-45 ).  Johnson retains his title with the win in the first fight in Kick Down history to go five full rounds.  The fight takes Fight of the Night honors.

In a professional featherweight bout, Ricky Johnson (4-3) locked horns with Sammy Rind (5-4).  Rind started the fight with multiple cracking leg kicks. Johnson scored the takedown, took full mount immediately, commando crawled Rind to his corner and then smashed him with vicious punches until Rind tapped. The end came just 1:19 into the first round.

The Kick Down amateur bantamweight title was on the line as champion Logan Petro (7-3) took on challenger Blaine Power (3-0). After a few punches to open the fight, both fighters settled down and Petro found the takedown. Petro utilized light ground-and-pound for the remainder of the round.

Logan Petro (l) and Blaine Power (Credit: Phil Lambert)

In round two, Power attempted to taunt, but it came off awkward and sad. Petro peppered him with punches, hurting and staggering the challenger. Petro dropped Power with a knee and punch combo and finishes Power with strikes on the ground at 1:14 of the second stanza to retain the belt.

Petro, who holds titles in three different weight classes with Kick Down earns Knockout of the Night honors with his performance.

In an amateur welterweight contest, Taj Ashaheed (1-2) squared off with Anthony Peairs (2-1). Peairs dropped for a takedown to open the contest, but Ashaheed stuffed it and pushed him over for a takedown of his own. The ref stood them up and Peairs scored a takedown almost immediatel. After another stand up, Peairs shot for another takedown to end the round, but instead gets trapped in a guillotine attempt.

The two fighters went back and forth with single punches for a few minutes to open the second round. Ashaheed wrangled Peairs to the mat. Peairs attempted an armbar, but Ashaheed escaped and moved to full mount at the bell.

In the third frame, Peairs came out and looked to take advantage of the weary Ashaheed. He landed a nice combo of punches causing Ashaheed to bull rush Peairs to the mat. Following a stand up, Peairs threw haymakers until time expired.

The judges saw the fight in Taj Ashaheed’s favor, awarding him a unanimous decision with 29-28 scores across the board.

Cody Connell (5-0) put his Kick Down amateur lightweight title on the line against Jimmy LaCrue (3-1). LaCrue shot in quickly to open the bout, but got stopped in his tracks and ended up on his back. LaCrue went for an omaplata, but got picked up and dropped on his cranium. LaCrue kept throwing up armbar attempts until the bell sounded.

In the second frame, Connell got a takedown, moved to side mount, trapped an arm in a crucifix position and pounded away on the defenseless LaCrue until the ref has no choice but to stop the fight. Connell retains the title with the TKO victory.

The women were also active at the Kick Down event, as 145-pounders Maureen Riordan, in her MMA debut, took on Britney Elkin (2-0). As the fight started Riordan imediately went for a single-leg takedown. Elkin easily stuffed it and took the back of Riordan. Riordan got back to her feet and wrangled Elkin to the ground. Riordan moved to side mount and peppered Elkin with left punches before advancing to full mount at the bell.

The ladies tested their grappling skills in the second stanza. Riordan landed in full mount and threw Sledger style punches to the delight of the ravenous crowd until the ref stepped in to save Elkin. Riordan’s debut ends with a second-round TKO win, coming at the 1:40 mark of the round.

Amateurs Marcus Lucero (2-2) and Abie Gonzalez (3-1) clashed in lightweight action.

A relentless Lucero utilized takedowns throughout the first two rounds, but didn’t do much once the fight went to the the canvas.  However, Lucero picked up the pace.  While very few strikes were thrown, the referee had seen enough and stepped in to stop the fight.  Lucero takes the win via third-round TKO.

Kenny Stone (top) dominates Jarrod Rupley (Credit: Phil Lambert)

Lightweight Kenny Stone made his amateur MMA debut against Jarrod Rupley (1-0). A huge right hand landed immediately for Rupley. The two went back and forth with crazy punching exchanges. Stone got the pick up and slam. Stone moved to full mount and pounded away, causing Rupley to give his back. The fight was stood up and Stone was warned for striking to the back of the head. Stone secured another takedown right at the bell.

The two open round two with a Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots exchange before Stone scored a takedown. Stone nearly secured a rear-naked choke and then transitioned to a deep armbar as the round expired.

In the third frame, Stone landed bomb after bomb. Stone connected with a high kick and dragged Rupley to the mat.  From there, he poured on the strikes. The ref finally stepped in, giving Stone the TKO victory at the 1:29 mark of the round.

The evening opened with an amateur fight contested at 175 pounds between Jon Nelson-Griffith (1-0) and the debuting Quinton Dooley.  Dooley started very aggressively, catching a kick by Nelson-Griffith and dropping him with a right hand. After a stand up, Nelson-Griffith landed very clean and powerful kicks. Dooley scored a takedown at the bell.

The second stanza starts as a carbon copy of the first. Dooley stumbled to his knees in the clinch and ate a huge knee to the chest from Nelson-Griffith. Dooley failed a throw attempt and ended up on his back. Dooley went for a guillotine at the bell in a close round.

In the final frame, Nelson-Griffith put on a kicking clinic in mixing up his high and leg kicks. Dooley scored a takedown, but Nelson-Griffith got right back up. Nelson-Griffith peppered Dooley with a variety of strikes as an exhausted Dooley grimaced and kept putting his hands on his knees.

Dooley’s debut did not end on a high note, as Nelson-Griffith earned the unanimous verdict.  It might be a fond farewell fight for Nelson-Griffith, as it was announced after the bout that he will soon be departing to join the Navy Seal program.

Top Photo: Vellore Caballero (r) and Matt Vigil battle in the evening’s main event (Credit: Phil Lambert)

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  • Taj

    Great article -thanks for the coverage of the event and of my fight! Taj