LAGUNA PUEBLO – Of her sterling, past boxing career, Holly Holm might look back and say, “Can’t kick.”
Now, she can.
Holm, landing a wide variety of kicks to the head, body and legs of Angela Hayes, scored a victory by unanimous decision Friday night in the three-round main event of an MMA card at the Route 66 Casino Hotel.
It was a shutout – 30-27 three times – on the official scorecards as Holm improved her record to 6-0.
A wildly, pro-Holm, near-sellout crowd of some 2,300 attended.
Holm weighed 135.2 pounds, Hayes 131.
On a night of quick finishes, Holm’s wasn’t one of them. Hayes (6-7) became the first MMA fighter to take her the distance.
Hayes also supplied some interesting moments late in the third round, when she went for a choke hold on the ground. But Holm, the bigger and stronger fighter, defended it well and finished the fight on top.
“(Hayes) is a lot stronger in the clinch, a lot stronger in a lot of things than all my (previous) fights combined,” Holm said.
“… Which is good. I want that.”
Hayes also gave Holm some problems in the first round, locking up one or the other of the Albuquerquean’s arms as they clinched against the fence. But Holm scored a takedown at approximately the 3:30 mark and, choosing not to go to the ground, kept Hayes there for almost a minute with punches and kicks.
The second round was reminiscent of Holm the boxer, as she landed lightning-quick blows – both punches and kicks – that Hayes, of Colorado Springs, was helpless to avoid.
The ultimate goal for Holm is a contract with the UFC and a shot at Ronda Rousey, that organization’s bantamweight champ.
But, for now, she said, “I want to take whatever opportunity is in front of me.”
That next opportunity, promoter Lenny Fresquez said, is a five-round title fight, probably March 15, in the Albuquerque area against a “Brazilian ground specialist” to be named later.
In Friday’s semi-main event, Albuquerque heavyweight Cody East dispatched Arizona-based Esteves Jones by TKO in 1:51 of the first. East, who weighed 233.2 pounds, is 8-1. Jones is 8-7-1.
East, a state champion wrestler at Los Lunas High School, took Jones down just 15 seconds into the fight. Jones got up – but that might not have been a good idea.
At about the 1:20 mark, Jones appeared to take a finger in the eye as a result of an East right hand. As Jones recoiled, East unleashed a flurry that would cause referee Robert Romero to stop the fight.
Asked about his future, East said, “I’m looking forward to whoever wants to get in there. I knew if I touched (Jones) with those right hands, he was gonna go to sleep.”
In undercard pro fights:
- Chuck Pieritz, 170.8, of Albuquerque, defeated Farmington’s Cris Leyva, 171.4, by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28). Pieritz is 4-0, Leyva 9-7.
- Gabriel “Moggly” Benitez, 148.6, a Tijuana, Mexico fighter who trains at Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA in Albuquerque, defeated Houston’s Rey Trujillo, 146.8, by second-round TKO. Benitez is 15-4, Trujillo 14-12.
- Albuquerque’s Nick Urso, 126.2, defeated El Paso’s Jesus Urbina, 124.6, by KO in only 19 seconds of the first round. Urso is 7-1, Urbina 2-2.
- Albuquerque’s Clint Roberts, 170 pounds, defeated El Paso’s Eddie Gamboa via TKO in just 38 seconds of the first round.
Roberts is 4-1, Gamboa 1-1.
The end of the Urso-Urbina fight was abrupt and highly unpopular with the crowd, not to mention both fighters.
Seconds into the fight, Urso dropped Urbina with a right hand. The Jackson-Winkeljohn fighter was blasting away on the ground when referee Romero dived in and stopped it.
Urbina and his handlers were furious, a frustrated Urso no less so.
“It’s not my fault,” Urso said. “I’ll fight all night; I can’t help what the ref does. … “I’d still be punching a hole in (Urbina’s) head if I could.”