Welcome to the Fight Dome: Final Fight Championship 37
The Fight Dome is buried deep within the bowels of the The Rio Hotel and Casino. The name is catchy but there is nothing dome about it. That said, the quaint venue is pleasing to the eye with its sterile, minimalist design combined with its colorful presentation. Final Fight Championship has a boxing ring in the middle of the Fight Dome instead of traditional MMA cage. Come to think of it, a dome-shaped cage would be an interesting and original concept, however unnecessary. It is a nice looking boxing ring. Though it is black in color, it has a Pride FC feel to it, like the rare squared circle in MMA always does.
Before the television broadcast begins, the DJ is playing the type of run-of-the-mill dance club music that usually precedes these sporting events. The redeeming quality is that it is not quite as overbearing as it normally would be. You can actually have a conversation, such as the one I just had with famous cutman “Stitch” Duran and UFC veteran Joe “Daddy” Stevenson before that. The building is packed to capacity with well over 400 fans. Among them are many familiar faces, like the aforementioned individuals, and UFC legend Frank Mir. Also in attendance are UFC fighters Roxanne Modafferi, Julian Marquez and LFA Featherweight Natan Levy.
Those three are here to support their Syndicate teammate Jake Albinio, who is up first. Coach John Wood is in his corner. Though the head coach and owner of Syndicate was probably instrumental in the preparation for his guy’s fight, his corner services won’t be needed. 38 year old Jake Albinio stops the 21 year old Kris “Easy Money” Berberich in the 1st round via TKO.
The pacing of this event is excellent. There are no video packages in between fights, trying to sell upcoming events or plug sponsors. Not that promoting future fights is a bad thing, they just aren’t doing it here in FFC, and it keeps the action running smoothly. It can be a drag to watch the same advertisement 3 times between each fight like one would at a UFC or Bellator event. It gets old fast and it’s exhausting. This is Las Vegas and fans love action. FFC gives it to them.
Next up is guy who calls himself the leprechaun. At 5’8″ and 203 lbs, the name fits Roger Caroll, who sort of resembles a short, bald Conor McGregor. He came to Vegas with 18 wins, 17 of them by submission. He once fought Neiman Gracie, and despite losing, is the only opponent that the undefeated Gracie has been unable to submit to this day. While his win resume is impressive, his 17 career losses make me wonder what his achilles heel might be. That question is answered rather quickly.
His opponent is a menacing Croatian Ivan Erslan, who towers over him at 6′ 2″ and looks absolutely terrifying. Though he only has 1/5 the number of fights as the veteran Caroll, Erslan was able to stop the Leprechaun with two thunderous right hands on the ground after leveling him with a right uppercut from Hell.
Only an hour has passed since this fight card began, but the co-main event is already here. The lights go dark as three loud tornado sirens blast out of the speakers. Anderson “Big Bones” Goncalves steps up to the stage. Once there, he does the same as each fighter beofre him, he shadowboxes in place while his music (and the smoke machine) fills the auditorium. Goncalves then makes his way down the ramp and moves front and center to “Stitch” Duran, in order to receive vaseline on his face while a commission official looks him over.
Goncalves is taking on Steve “the Creepy Weasel” Montgomery. As the two move toward one another, they look like twins. I can’t tell which is which at this point. It’s over with just as quickly as it began and I cannot help but notice that the finishes are coming faster as the night progresses. If they are indeed twins, Goncalves is the tougher one, at least tonight. Anderson Goncalves rocks his doppelganger with a left, before dropping him with a right and left, finishing the fight with hammerfists in the 1st round.
Another finish. Keep ’em coming! The Main Event features Alonzo Martinez vs Mike Santiago. Martinez has more than 70 fights. He’s been fighting since 2003 – and that’s just what’s on record. Back in those days, many fights were undocumented. Santiago is a veteran of MMA in his own right. He has more than 30 fights, winning 21 of them. 17 were by stoppage. That’s 10 submissions and 7 KOs, and he’s a UFC veteran. Martinez fought 3 UFC vets previously, losing to each Clay Guida, Yves Edwards and Abel Trujillo.
He lost to another one tonight. His wealth of experience was not enough to get past Mike Santiago. Make no mistake, his grit showed. Martinez displayed tremendous heart in the battle against Santiago. Most fighters, even at this level, would not have been able to withstand some of the shots Martinez took. But he did, and he gave plenty back in return. What started as a back and forth fight was a clear win for Santiago in the 1st round. This was the only fight that went past the 2nd round. That was as far as it went, however. Mike Santiago put Alonzo Martinez in a corner with a flurry of shots, followed by a brief a clinch and an eventual takedown. He managed to sink in a choke while Martinez made it back to his feet and finally submitted him.
It was an exciting night of fights and true fans of the sport could not have asked for a better display of Mixed Martial Arts. There was never a dull moment. It was non-stop action. It’s still early when the event is officially over, before 9 pm in fact. This is Sin City. Everyone in this room came to watch fistfights, gamble and drink beer. We’re all out of fistfights.