By Ken Pishna, MMAWeekly.com (Photo courtesy of April Pishna)
(Noah Thomas locking out the arm bar on Jose Luis Murillo – Photo courtesy of April Pishna)

Wasting no time, Denver-based fight promotion Kick Down started off the year early with their first show of 2006 this past Saturday night. Usually and all-amateur fare, Kick Down 22 was another of the promotion’s pro-am shows that they run every so often.

In the house were officials from American Championship Fighting, a new promotion starting up in Denver and guests of Kick Down. Their first show kicks off near the end of February, but they made a bit of a splash bringing in Mark Coleman and Wes Sims as guests at the Kick Down show. Coleman even spent time in the corner of several fighters early on in the evening.

The main event of the evening was originally slated to be a barnburner of a kickboxing fight between local bad boy John Cronk and a very experienced fighter out of Salt Lake City named Kwame Stephens. Pulling out with a wrist injury, Stephens was replaced by Scott Anderson, another product of Utah, and the fight was changed to a mixed martial arts bout.

Much improved over the past couple of years, Cronk didn’t give Anderson much of a chance to get things started. Just 3 minutes into the fight, Cronk slapped on a guillotine choke that had Anderson tapping out almost immediately.

Earlier in the night, Eric Heinz, a longtime veteran of the Denver fight scene, proposed to his girlfriend… she accepted. What better way to cap off an engagement than a good ass beating? With his newly crowned fiancé at ringside, Heinz manhandled Cyle Burgess who submitted when he couldn’t handle the blows that Heinz was raining down on him when they hit the mat.

Another fighter that has been on the Denver scene quite a bit lately is Noah Thomas. And on Saturday night, he showed once again why he is one of the hottest fighters in the area. Former Kick Down Lightweight Champion Jose Luis Murillo stepped in to challenge Thomas in Murillo’s pro debut, but it was once again Thomas who stood with his hand raised.

For his third straight victory, Thomas pushed Murillo around throughout most of the first round before finishing him with an arm bar. Known more for finishing opponents with brawn more than technique as of late, Thomas surprised a few people with the submission. “I don’t know why everyone’s so surprised,” said Thomas, “it’s really only recently that I’ve started pounding on people.” But then again, it’s only recently that he’s started to draw a lot of attention. He steps into the ring again just two weeks after this win at the WFC show on January 21st, where he will challenge for the title.

Headlining the kickboxing portion of the card was a battle between local favorite Katie Meehan and Colorado Springs’ Angela Hayes. Both fighters had their moment, but it was Meehan who seemed to land more frequently and with the more effective techniques. Amazingly though, the judges’ scored the bout in a split decision for Hayes. Neither the crowd nor Meehan or her corner was too pleased. I’d have to say that I agree. I was rather surprised that the judges saw enough to score the bout the other way.

With plenty of solid matchups on the undercard, Kick Down made it a solid start to 2006 with the promise of even better things to come. Kick Down makes the quick turnaround with a return to their all-amateur card on February 18th.

John Cronk def. Scott Anderson by Guillotine Choke at 3:20, Round 1
Eric Heinz def. Cyle Burgess by Submission to Strikes at 3:05, Round 1
Cruz Chacon drew with Leonard Wilson, 2 Rounds
Noah Thomas def. Jose Luis Murillo by Arm Bar at 4:27, Round 1
Spencer Hooker def. Matt DeWolfe by Rear Naked Choke, Round 1
Lannon Quintana def. Matt Holland by Rear Naked Choke, Round 1
Elliot Von Eichel def. Reed O’Malley by TKO at 2:53, Round 2
Josh Rosaeen def. Randy Robinette by Guillotine Choke at 2:43, Round 2
Eric Fagyas def. Joey Welch by Triangle Choke at 2:53, Round 1
Manuel Gallardo def. Lawrence Gaytan by TKO at 1:11, Round 2
Luke Holdorf def. Patrick Jiner by Rear Naked Choke at 2:10, Round 2

Angela Hayes def. Katie Meehan by Split Decision, 3 Rounds
Colby Snyder def. Jeff Barney by Unanimous Decision, 3 Rounds
Christopher Thompson def. Patrick Cox by Unanimous Decision, OT Round
Heather Fairchild def. Shantel Wilson by Unanimous Decision, 3 Rounds