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Lovato Takes A Tough Struggle

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque fighter runs record to 8-0, but receives a pounding

After being judged the winner of a sometimes brutal mixed-martial-arts fight, Albuquerque’s Lenny Lovato was brutally honest.

“I didn’t think I won, actually,” he said, shortly after being awarded a unanimous decision over former UFC fighter Nate Mohr Friday night at the Albuquerque Convention Center. “But, then, I can’t remember a lot of the fight.”

Certainly, there were parts of the bout that Lovato well might want to forget. Mohr, a ripped and rugged 155-pounder from Crystal Lake, Ill., hammered away throughout the three-round, 15-minute fray with powerful kicks to the Albuquerquean’s legs. Lovato absorbed some hard strikes to his head, as well.

“Hats off to Nate Mohr,” Lovato said, “because he probably gave me the worst beating I’ve ever had in a fight.”

Yet, Lovato did in fact win the bout. The only three people whose opinions mattered, the official judges, each scored it 29-28, two rounds to one, for the former West Mesa wrestling star. The Journal also scored it 29-28 for Lovato, giving him the first round by the narrowest of margins and the third by a solid one. Mohr won the second round on the Journal’s card because of those devastating kicks, despite having been taken down and controlled by Lovato for a healthy portion of the five minutes.

Clearly, Mohr strongly disagreed with the judges. His post-fight facial expression said it all. Yet, he was gracious afterward, congratulating the winner and posing with Lovato for a number of photographs.

So, how and why did Lovato win the fight, having taken by far more physical punishment than he dished out?

He won by demonstrating that MMA, while a brutal and sometimes even cruel enterprise, isn’t merely about who hurts the most after the fight. It’s also about who exerts more control, who better applies the science behind the mayhem.

It wasn’t as if Lovato dished out no punishment at all. He knocked Mohr to the ground with a right hand in the first, shortly after recovering from a low blow, and landed other hard shots throughout the fight.

Still, it was the stuff he learned from his dad and coach, Lenny Sr., on the practice mat at West Mesa that spelled the difference between W and L.

Early in what might have been a decisive third round, Lovato used those long-practiced wrestling skills to take Mohr to the ground. Lovato was unable to pass Mohr’s guard and apply a submission hold, nor was Mohr able to escape, reverse or secure an arm bar or triangle choke.

Referee Joe Valencia ordered the two back to their feet, clearly to the Albuquerquean’s disadvantage.

“I thought he did stand me up a little bit prematurely,” Lovato said, though taking pains to say he respected Valencia’s decision. “I thought I was staying semi-active. I was throwing a punch at least every five seconds, I know that.”

Back on his feet, Mohr resumed his attack on Lovato’s legs. But, with some 25 seconds left in the round, Lovato got the takedown that likely won the fight for him.

“I learned a lot about myself in this fight,” Lovato said. “… It definitely feels great, especially with the (Albuquerque Kickboxing) team I had behind me. It was definitely a team effort.

“It feels great to be able to beat a guy like Nate Mohr, who’s competed at a very high level.”

Lovato’s record is now 8-0, as listed by Global Fury Cagefighting, promoter of Friday’s card. Mohr is either 8-7 or 9-7, depending on the source.

Global Fury’s first card, held at the Convention Center last February, drew a crowd of some 2,700. Friday’s crowd appeared to be barely one-third of that number.

Yet, co-promoter Christian Maes said GFC had sold more than 1,100 tickets in advance.

“I don’t know where everyone is,” he said, “but those tickets were sold.”