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MMA: Tucumcari’s Cullum wins quickly (again)

ISLETA PUEBLO — Abel Cullum needed just 29 extra seconds.

Cullum, of Tucumcari, defeated Santa Fe’s Josh Montoya by first-round submission (guillotine choke) Saturday in the bantamweight main event of a Fresquez Productions/Jackson-Wink Fight Night card at Isleta Resort & Casino. The end came at the 2-minute, 7 second mark.

Cullum (21-6) had defeated Montoya (11-10) by submission in 1:38 of the first round when the two fought in 2010.

In the buildup to Saturday’s fight, Montoya had talked about being a different fighter and a different person than he was eight years ago — more at peace with himself, having fun, focused on himself rather than on Cullum.

Cullum believed that — until Saturday before the fight.

“He kept saying he changed as a fighter, he grew as a fighter, and everything,” Cullum said “I believed him until just before the fight. He was down there (in the dressing-room area) yelling, ‘Take me down, Abel! Take me down!’ He was trying to get himself in this place that just isn’t him again. … He wasn’t having fun like he said.

“I knew I had the fight won then. … In my opinion, the fight was won before I stepped in the cage.”

In the fight, Montoya took the initial advantage, quickly taking Cullum down. Cullum, though didn’t call it a takedown.

“I kind of grabbed a single leg and sat down and he kind of sprawled onto me,” he said.

Whatever advantage Montoya had, or appeared to have, Cullum quickly neutralized.

“I just pulled him into guard and started working my jujitsu,” he said.

Montoya, Cullum said, was too busy trying to land haymakers to defend against the guillotine choke.

“All he wanted to do was hit me,” Cullum said. “Everything he threw had bad intentions, I could feel it. Because of that, it made him a lot slower. … I could see him coming a mile away.”

In the co-main event, featherweight Aalon Cruz of Tampa, Fla., dropped Albuquerque’s Steve Garcia in the first round with a huge right hand, punished him on the ground and forced a tap-out with a rear naked choke. The end came at 1 minute, 47 seconds.

Crux is 6-2, Garcia 7-3.

In other pro fights:

  • In an exciting, evenly matched flyweight fight, Chris Cortez of Lubbock, Texas, defeated Jackson-Wink’s Ricky Esquibel by split decision.

In a back-and-forth battle, a reversal by Cortez with a minute left in the third and final round might have swayed the decision in his favor. One judge scored the fight 29-28 for Esquibel, two for Cortez by the same score.

“I knew (the winner) was gonna be whoever wanted it more,” said Cortez, who, like Cullum, trains in Clovis at Force of One. “I’m glad was able to come up here to Albuquerque and get this big decision.”

Cortez is 2-0, Esquibel 3-1.

  • Jackson-Wink lightweight Chris Brown (2-0) took an impressive victory by unanimous decision over Blake Smith (3-2) of Tampa, Fla.

Brown had said at a Wednesday news conference that he wanted to show off his striking ability. But he was able to use virtually his entire repertoire in dominating Smith throughout three rounds.

“A little bit of everything,” Brown said. “I wasn’t as fluid as I wanted to be, but I’m getting better every fight.”

All three judges scored the fight a shutout — 30-27, 30-27, 30-26 — for Brown.

  • Flyweight Pengshuai Liu, of Beijing, defeated Belen’s Gene Perez by first-round submission (guillotine choke).

Apparently to show how well he’s adjusted to his new surroundings, Pengshuai — who has been training in Albuquerque at Jackson-Wink — entered the cage to Mariachi music.

At the opening bell, Pengshuai (5-3) promptly took Perez (6-9) down and kept him there throughout, quickly maneuvering his way to the choke hold.

Perez tapped out at the 2:15 mark.

  • North Carolinian Hannah Cifers (7-2) quickly ended her fight with Jackson-Wink’s Celine Haga (10-15) with a big right hand that dropped the Norway native to the ground. Cifers finished off the TKO victory at 1:16 of the first round.

    Referee Joe Coca is just about to step in to stop the fight as Hannah Cifers pounds the head of Celine Haga. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

  • Highlighting a four-fight amateur card, Albuquerque featherweight Randy Baker took a unanimous but hard-earned decision over Clovis’ Julian Chavez (1-2).

Baker (3-1) appeared to take the first round decisively but, halfway through the second round, suddenly appeared to be dog-tired. But the Jackson-Wink fighter made it through the round and found his second wind in the third. All three judges scored it 30-27.

  • Jackson-Wink flyweight Ambrose Vigil (3-6) avenged an earlier defeat to fellow Albuquerquean Austin Lewis (4-3) with a split-decision victory.

Vigil scored takedowns in each of the three rounds — Lewis had none — and exchanges in standup appeared to be even. Nonetheless, one judge scored the fight 29-28 for Lewis. Vigil had a 30-27 advantage on the other two official scorecards.

  • Belen flyweight Aaron Taylor (3-0) defeated Tabari Grubbs (1-1) a St. Louis-area native who’s living and training in Hobbs, by unanimous decision.

All three judges scored the fight 29-28 for Taylor — drawing scattered boos from the crowd. It was largely a who’s-got-whom kind of fight, with both men on the ground and unclear at times who actually had the advantage.

  • In the night’s opening fight, Jackson-Wink featherweight Kayla Yontef made short work of Belen’s Teresa Marquez. It was both women’s MMA debut.

The official outcome was a TKO victory for Yontef, though Marquez appeared to be tapping out in the midst of Yontef’s strikes on the ground.

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