BROOMFIELD, Colo. – Ring of Fire, the elder statesman of Colorado fight promotions, returned to the 1stBank Center on Saturday night to a crowd estimated at 3,000-plus.
Brandon “Rukus” Thatch, the promotion’s welterweight Young Guns champion, wasted no time raising a ruckus in the night’s main event.
His opponent, 35-year-old Chris Holland, called the fight his “Mount Everest” to climb. Holland hardly made it to base camp, however, as Thatch rushed him with a flurry of punches, a left-right combination sending him crashing to the canvas just 19 seconds into the opening round.
Thatch had told in-ring interviewer Joey Varner prior to the fight that he predicted a first-round finish. Questioned about it after the fight, Thatch said simply, “I aim to please.”
Michelle Blalock, women’s 125-pound Young Guns champion, had a tough fight against Casey Noland, but in the end, she emerged victorious in defense of her belt. Blalock looked strong early on in the clinch, kneeing and elbowing Noland, but Noland fought back strong, lighting Blalock up in the stand-up department when they were at a distance.
Noland picked up in round two utilizing her reach advantage in the stand-up game, but the fight eventually hit the mat, and even with her on top, it wasn’t the best place to be with Blalock. Fighting off her back, Blalock locked on a triangle choke, but finished the fight with an onslaught of elbows that had the referee stopping the bout.
After the fight, the husband and trainer of Cat Zingano, the Ring of Fire women’s 125-pound champion, entered the cage and called upon Blalock to step up from the Young Gun’s belt to face his wife. Blalock heartily accepted.
Rising middleweight talent Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira tore a page right out of his mentor Vitor Belfort’s playbook, sending Grudge Training Center fighter Chaun Sims home early, courtesy of a crushing left hook. That one punch, in 17 seconds, was all it took to turn out the lights on Sims, who lay motionless on the canvas for several minutes afterward, but came to and left the cage under his own power.
It wasn’t pretty, but Grudge fighter Jason Lee grounded and pounded his way to a victory over H.I.T. Squad fighter Coltin Cole in another middleweight feature bout. Lee controlled the better part of the opening two rounds, but both fighters faded in round three. Cole started to land some decent stand-up in the third, but his power had all but vanished by that point. Lee walked away with the unanimous decision.
Team Wildman’s Josh Cavan put on a brief, if not effective submission clinic in his welterweight bout with Tamboura Gerl. He caught Gerl in a Peruvian necktie early in the fight. Gerl stayed patient and worked his way out of what looked like a sure submission, but Cavan immediately switched to a triangle choke for the tap.
Marcus Edwards, another fighter from MMA veteran Thomas Denny’s Team Wildman, put on an impressive performance in his fight with Nick Laney for the Young Guns lightweight title. Edwards threw in a dash of splash, doing a front flip guard pass, before finishing with an armbar submission.
After a first-round full of hip tossing Aaron Carter to the mat, Grudge fighter Justin Gaethje, an All American wrestler from the University of Northern Colorado, opened up with his hands in round two. He wasn’t able to finish it then, but in round three, Gaethje put Carter on the mat and delivered some solid knees to the ribs that put an end to the fight.
Be sure to keep your eyes open for a mohawk with a kid named Tito Solis under it. Solis lit up the Ring of Fire preliminary bouts with a 55-second destruction of Josh Kammer. He lit Kammer up with punches before driving a knee to the solar plexus that dropped Kammer for the finish.
Ring of Fire 40 Full Results:
Ring of Fire Young Guns Welterweight Championship:
Brandon Thatch def. Chris Holland by KO (Punch) at 0:19, R1
Ring of Fire Young Guns Women’s Lightweight Championship:
Michelle Blalock def. Casey Noland by TKO (Strikes) at 3:11, R2
Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira def. Chaun Sims by KO (Punch) at 0:17, R1
Jason Lee def. Coltin Cole by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27), R3
Josh Cavan def. Tamboura Gerl by Submission (Triangle Choke) at 2:32, R1
Ring of Fire Young Guns Lightweight Championship:
Marcus Edwards def. Nick Laney by Submission (Armbar) at 1:22, R1
Justin Gaethje def. Aaron Carter by TKO (Knees) at 1:48, R3
Tommy Thompson def. Chad Romero by TKO (Strikes) at 2:59, R1
Joey Banks def. Pete Alvarado by TKO (Strikes) at 0:58, R1
Henry Solis def. Rocky Hoffschneider by TKO (Strikes) at 1:23, R2
Tito Solis def. Josh Kammer by TKO (Knee) at 0:55, R1
Nick McCorkle def. Cory Kuechler by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27), R3
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