by Ken Pishna (Photo by April Pishna)
It’s not the biggest show in the country and definitely not the most well known, but for a show that is heavy on the local fighters, the Kick Down sure can pack a punch. This past Saturday night, it did just that in living up to the Fireworks moniker tagging the show.

Every town needs its local bad boy and in Denver, John Cronk fills that roll nicely. A long-time journeyman in both kickboxing and mixed martial arts, he has a long list of bouts to his credit. Across the ring from him on Saturday night was Joe Serna, another local fighter with a lot of attitude that was looking to put the cagey veteran in his place. Serna is never lacking in aggression, but he is short on experience and Cronk took full advantage.

Coming from a wrestling background, Serna wasted no time shooting on Cronk, wanting to take the fight down into his world. The problem was, he left his chin out and for a fighter with the experience and ability of Cronk, it was like painting a big red X on his jaw. Just 14 seconds in and one precise left hook and Serna was out cold, falling like a downed tree.

Before the fight, Cronk said that he was going to take Serna to school and he did. The crowd, which was 80% pro-Serna, didn’t really care for it and Cronk did everything he could to fire them up, including a little double-bird action. Things were a little tense for a while following the fight, but cooler heads eventually prevailed.

In the co-main event, Colorado Springs’ undefeated Donnie Liles put his 13-0 unbeaten streak on the line against Arizona import Ray Elbe. Per his usual demeanor, Liles came out aggressively, looking to take the fight to Elbe. But being the veteran he is, Elbe went with the flow of the fight, ended up on his back on the ground and quickly latched on to Liles’ arm.

Liles worked hard to break free; picking Elbe about 5 or 6 feet up in the air and slamming him down, but Elbe bellied up and wouldn’t let go of the arm. Shortly after the slam, Elbe was able to turn the arm over with himself face down to gain enough leverage to get Liles to tap out for the first time in his career. Elbe was impressive in the win and Liles gracious in defeat. With the win Elbe becomes the first every KickDown Professional Welterweight Champion and the ISKA Rocky Mountain States Welterweight Champion.

Another of Denver’s up and coming talents is Noah Thomas. He’s still a fairly raw talent, but has really been coming on in recent weeks, especially since he began training with Team Quest’s Ryan Schultz. On Saturday night, he stepped in with Jeff Barney, who is known for a pretty good striking game. Thomas wasted no time with Barney, letting his hands fly. Once the fight ended up on the ground, Thomas unloaded on Barney and the referee quickly stopped the fight.

Thomas looks to be getting stronger and gaining confidence each time out. If he keeps progressing at a steady pace, he’s one of those fighters that looks like he could eventually make the step up to the big stage, especially if he keeps training with Schultz and his buddies at Team Quest.

With lots of great knockouts and some picture perfect submissions, KickDown 19 lived up to the Fireworks that it promised, in and out of the ring. Promoter Steve Alley has consistently been growing the show over the past 3-1/2 years and it has become a great showcase for local talent. As mixed martial arts in general seems on the verge of exploding in the United States, especially with the UFC’s new SpikeTV deal and Pride’s emerging agreement with FOX Sports Net, it will be interesting to see where shows like the KickDown can take things.

John Cronk def. Joe Serna by KO at 0:14, Round 1
Ray Elbe def. Donnie Liles by Arm Bar at 1:13, Round 1
Noah Thomas def. Jeff Barney by TKO at 2:28, Round 1
Josh Barlow def. Luke Holdorf by Arm Bar at 2:06, Round 1
Mark Leeling def. Spencer Hooker by Split Decision, 3 Rounds
Vellore Cabellaro def. Joey Welch by Rear Naked Choke at 1:01, Round 1
Jose Murillo def. Josh Usera by TKO at 5:00, Round 1

Colby Snyder def. Patrick Cox by Split Decision, Overtime (4 Rounds)
Melanie Kohler-Edwards def. Judy Hazel by Unanimous Decision, 3 Rounds
Brandon Griffin def. Mikael Tesvay by TKO at 1:29, Round 2
Oner Azir def. Drake Montoya by Unanimous Decision, 3 Rounds
Tandy Ogden def. Marilyn Vallejo by Split Decision, 3 Rounds