by Mick Hammond
This past Saturday, October 29th youth was served and the next generation of fighters made a statement at the taping of King of the Cage’s “Execution Day” PPV in Reno, NV. On an evening that not only saw the largest crowd for an MMA event in Reno in over two years, eight of nine fights ended in finishes, providing for an exciting night of action.

Headlining the card where two KOTC Championship bouts as well as a special feature match showcasing talent from Ken Shamrock’s new Lion’s Den team. In the main event, KOTC Lightweight Champion Takumi Nakayama faced off against rising American prospect Mac Danzig who had what could only be described as one of the best all-around performances by a fighter all year.

Nakayama, a veteran of Shooto and ZST, was the favorite coming into the bout, but had a difficult time the entire evening applying himself against Danzig. Throughout the whole fight Mac displayed skills on par with some of the best 155lb fighters in the world, effectively stifling nearly all Nakayama’s attacks.

Early in the first round Danzig landed multiple high knees out of clinch to Takumi’s head, controlling the stand up action before applying a spinning belly-to-belly style wrestling takedown. From there Danzig controlled the action, showing great patience on the ground, keeping Nakayama from escaping or making position changes. As the round came to an end Danzig managed to take Nakayama’s back but time expired before he could exploit his advantage.

In the second round it was much of the same as Mac landed a solid knee to Takumi’s head as Nakayama came in for a shot. Showing great heart and warrior spirit, Nakayama managed to work hard and secure a takedown but Danzig quickly escaped and landed quick combo as they stood up. It was here that Danzig’s skills proved to be superior as he showed tremendous head movement, avoiding nearly all Takumi’s punches, and conversely landing combos and flurries with crisp, accurate precision. The second round closed out with Mac landing a hard right hand and sprawling out of an attempted takedown by Takumi, who try as he would, couldn’t get any advantage in the fight.

As the third round opened, Nakayama landed his best punch of the night with a good counter left, only to be driven back by a flurry from Danzig. As the two clinched Takumi had his best offensive output as he attempted many knees to the body, landing a couple, in an effort to steer momentum his way, but it didn’t last. As the two separated Danzig landed a hard right hand followed by knees and yet another flurry of punches, opening up a deep gash on Nakayama’s head. Takumi’s corner wisely threw in the towel as a bloody Nakayama was being driven back against the cage by Danzig’s relentless assault, putting an end to the fight at 2:45 of the third round.

Again, Nakayama showed the heart of a champion, but in the end it was Danzig’s complete performance, standing, wrestling, and grappling, that won him the title. If Mac continues to do what he did against Nakayama in his future bouts, he could very well be the next great American lightweight fighter.

The evening’s other title match didn’t go nearly as long as standout 145lb fighter Urijah Faber of the Capital City team defeated a game, but overmatched Shawn Bias to retain the KOTC Bantamweight Championship. Right from the start the two very aggressive fighters had a wild standing exchange before going to the ground. From there it was even more chaotic as both worked feverishly for an advantage.

To his credit, Bias matched the speed of Faber, who is known for his tremendous energy level, but Urijah’s skill was just too much for his opponent to handle. As the two worked on the ground Faber found himself on Bias’ back in north/south position, from there Bias tried to posture up and flip Faber off of him using Urijah’s legs, but Faber synched in hard, locking something of a triangle choke on Shawn. Bias was able to escape but as he pulled back to stand up and get away from Faber, Urijah locked on a guillotine choke forcing Bias to tap out at 1:55 of round 1.

Faber continues to prove he’s one of the best at the 145lb division, which is quickly becoming a showcase for some of the best young fighters around. With the win Faber will now look to defend his title against top contender Nam Phan or possibly head to Japan where he could make a big impact possibly in Shooto’s 143lb division. One thing is for sure, Urijah Faber is a star in the making, and is definitely someone to keep an eye out for in the coming year.

In the evening’s last feature bout, local fighter Richard Montoya of the new Lion’s Den, took on Aaron Brink in a fight sandwiched between the two title matches. Montoya continues to improve his overall game, becoming a complete fighter under Shamrock’s guidance, as he quickly clinched the former heavyweight Brink as the fight started. Montoya was able to trip Brink to the ground briefly before the two worked their way back to the standing position where Richard applied a standing guillotine on Aaron. From there Montoya was able to pull guard and finish off Brink with the guillotine at 1:55 of Round 1.

Montoya continues to look more impressive each time out, and with each bout he becomes a more complete fighter compared to his striking-heavy earlier days. With continued work at the new Lion’s Den, Richard could begin to make a serious name for himself as he evolves into a solid prospect at 205lbs.

In other action on the under card, KOTC staple Ruben “Warpath” Villereal got back on the winning track, after losing his last bout to Ricco Rodriguez in July, by defeating an overmatched Jason Wieff by TKO in the first round of a fight totally dominated by Warpath. Takefumi Hanai defeated Royce Gracie/Travis Lutter product Buddy Clinton by KO just 18 seconds into the third round of their bout after landing a wicked right hand to put Clinton on the ground before pouncing on him to finish the fight. Hanai’s unorthodox style seemingly confused Clinton while the two were standing, whereas Clinton controlled the ground fighting, and ultimately Hanai’s power advantage became the great equalizer.

Lastly two local prospects shined bright as well, the first being undefeated lightweight Ryan Healy, who beat a resilient Adam Torres by armbar at 3:50 of round 1. Healy slammed his way out of a standing guillotine choke after missing a big right hand to start the fight. From there the two jockied for position and Torres even managed to reverse being back mounted by Healy only to have Ryan apply the arm bar to finish the fight. Later in the evening local heavyweight fighter Dan Molina out of the new Lion’s Den looked extremely impressive as he dominated fellow Reno product Phil Garcia. Just seconds into the bout Molina got a double-leg takedown and proceeded to work from side mount to north/south position where he applied a very Shamrock-esque ankle lock at 1:00 of round one to force Garcia to tap out. With the win Molina further proves the fact that the next generation of the Lion’s Den are going to be tough to beat in the coming years.

Full Event Results

Mac Danzig def. Takumi Nakayama by TKO (Corner Stoppage) @ 2:45 of Round 3

Richard Montoya def. Aaron Brink by Guillotine Choke @ 1:55 of Round 1

Urijah Faber def. Shawn Bias by Guillotine Choke @ 1:24 of Round 1

Ruben Villereal def. Jason Wieff by TKO (Referee Stoppage) @ 3:52 of Round 1

Takefumi Hanai def. Buddy Clinton by KO @ :18 of Round 3

Jamie Jara def. Joe Coda by Split Decision (30-26, 28-29, 30-27)

Dan Molina def. Phil Garcia by Ankle Lock @ 1:00 of Round 1

Ryan Healy def. Adam Torres by Armbar @ 3:50 of Round 1

Arron Jameson def. Stephen Thames by Guillotine Choke @ 1:12 of Round 1

KOTC “Execution Day” will debut on PPV on November 11th on TVN, In Demand PPV, and Dish Network.