Colorado’s Ring of Fire promotion returned to the 1STBANK Center in Broomfield for its 43rd event. Headlining the action was UFC, Strikeforce and Pride veteran Phil Baroni against Denver’s Chris Holland. Also on the card was a featherweight title tilt between UFC vets Cameron Dollar and Tyler Toner. The eight-fight main card aired via pay-per-view on FightNow.com.

Holland batters Baroni

Welterweight Chris Holland made sure the hometown crowd went home happy by finishing Phil Baroni in the second round.

After a brief exchange to open the bout, Baroni shot for a takedown. Holland looked for a kimura off his back and returned the fight to the feet. Baroni again scored with a takedown and worked to Holland’s back. Holland managed to get back to the feet and the two traded big shots along the fence as the round closed.

Holland opened the second round with a combo that staggered Baroni. A takedown attempt from Baroni was stuffed and Holland began to pour it on with heavy shots. As the round continued, Holland landed blow after blow and the referee was forced to step in and save Baroni from the onslaught.

“I want to thank all of Colorado for being behind me in this fight. It was the biggest fight on my career,” Holland declared in his post-fight speech.

Dollar chokes Toner to take home featherweight title

Former Ultimate Fighter combatant Cameron Dollar overwhelmed fellow UFC veteran Tyler Toner in their Ring of Fire featherweight title fight.

Dollar connected early on the feet, backing Toner up against the cage. A big double-leg takedown put Toner on his back. Dollar rained down elbows and punches from the top position for the remainder of the opening frame.

In the second round, Dollar delivered a right cross that dropped Toner. He worked for the finish with elbows but Toner gave up his back. Dollar capitalized and sunk in the fight-ending choke.

“I finally pulled my head out of my ass and learned to train like a champ,” Dollar said after his victory.

Gaethje claims Young Gun belt with win over Edwards

Justin Gaethje (blue shorts) battles Marcus Edwards (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

In a battle of two of the most promising lightweight prospects in Colorado, former Division I wrestler Justin Gaethje took home the Ring of Fire Young Gun title with a unanimous decision victory over Marcus Edwards.

The first round saw Gaethje look to utilize his wrestling, but Edwards showed great hips to keep the fight on the feet. Near the end of the round, Gaethje rocked Edwards with a right hand, but a shot to the back of Edwards’ head prompted a brief stoppage.

Edwards—making his professional debut—showed no effects of the illegal blow as he started the second frame strong, scoring with volume. However, as the round progressed, Gaethje found a home for his right hand and did enough to claim the round.

In the last stanza, Edwards had his best round. He scored with combinations and pushed the pace, but unfortunately for the Factory X product, it was too little, too late.

Gaethje—a Grudge Training Center fighter—kept his record unblemished with the win.

Thompson edges Ingraham in grappling war

Tommy Thompson kept his undefeated record intact with a split decision win over Prentice Ingraham. The two featherweights engaged in a back-and-forth grappling battle from the opening bell. Ingraham took Thompson’s back in the opening frame, but never posed a serious threat of ending the bout. Thompson returned the favor multiple times in the later rounds, earning the nod on two of the scorecards.

Leandro Veal (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

Lopez puts away Korzenowski late

Middleweight Vinnie Lopez showed off his improved standup technique and head movement in his win over Mark Korzenowski. The pair battled back and forth in the opening frame, but Lopez found a home for his left hook in the later rounds. After dropping Korzenowski in the second round, Lopez finished him off in the third stanza with a perfect counter as Korzenowski marched forward.

Veal crushes Wicks in MMA debut

Former Denver Broncos defensive lineman Leandro Veal proved that his athleticism translated to the cage by demolishing former WWE wrestler Chad Wicks. Veal used his jab early, but Wicks was able to score with a big slam. Veal worked his way to the feet and connected with a big shot that sent Wicks crashing to the mat. After a violent collision reminiscent of the gridiron, Veal finished Wicks with a series of right hands and elbows. A disorientated Wicks was left wondering where he was after the referee intervened.

Taylor slips past Romero

Mark Taylor (R) works for a takedown against Aaron Romero (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

Mark Taylor used his wrestling advantage to claim a decision win over Aaron Romero in their welterweight bout. Taylor scored multiple takedowns and dropped Romero with strikes twice in the fight. Romero fought back, using his jiu-jitsu to sweep to the top position on more than one instance. In the end, two of the three judges felt Taylor had done enough to win the fight.

Solis stops Willis with elbows

Heavyweight Henry Solis outlasted late replacement Justin Willis in the first pro bout of the night. Willis, an American Kickboxing Academy product, connected with a right hand early that sent Solis to the canvas. However, Solis recovered and nearly ended the fight in the opening round. After multiple illegal strikes that slowed the fight, Solis was able to put Willis away late in the second round with elbows from the full guard.

Undercard Summary

Bantamweight Zach Riley showed off his submission skills by finishing off Toby Lopez with a first-round armbar to round out the night’s amateur portion of the card.

Bryce Thorstad used heavy hands to get the better of opponent Zach McChesney in their 200-pound catchweight bout. Thorstad connected early in the second frame and McChesney crashed to the mat.

Flyweight Aaron Trujillo battled Tyson Grippen tooth-and-nail for the opening two minutes before slapping on a guillotine choke and forcing Grippen to tap.

In a 175-pound catchweight Jared Deaguero quickly overwhelmed Nathan Torrez by taking his back and forcing a referee stoppage with a barrage of strikes.

FULL RESULTS:

Chris Holland def. Phil Baroni by TKO (strikes). Round 2, 2:50
Cameron Dollar def. Tyler Toner by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 2, 2:00
Justin Gaethje def. Marcus Edwards by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Tommy Thompson def. Prentice Ingraham by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Vinnie Lopez def. Mark Korzenowski by TKO (strikes). Round 3, 3:41
Leandro Veal def. Chad Wicks by KO (strikes). Round 1, 2:54
Mark Taylor def. Aaron Romero by majority decision (29-29, 29-28, 29-28).
Henry Solis def. Justin Willis by TKO (elbows). Round 2, 4:32
Zach Riley def. Toby Lopez by submission (armbar). Round 1, 1:34 (a)
Bryce Thorstad def. Zach McChesney by KO (strikes). Round 2, 0:23 (a)
Aaron Trujillo def. Tyson Grippen by submission (guillotine choke). Round 1, 2:12 (a)
Jared Deaguero def. Nathan Torrez by TKO (strikes). Round 1, 1:40 (a)

(a) denotes amateur contest

Photo: Chris Holland (R) bested Phil Baroni (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)