Saturday night, April 9th, hours before most fans of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) were turning on their televisions to watch Strikeforce, the stands were filling up at the Hard Rock Cafe theater in Isleta. Duke City fight fans turned out for the fourth-and-counting Jackson's MMA Series fight card, the eleven bouts of which featured five pro-fights, three of which were women's.
There were slick submissions, exciting knockouts, and some good decisions. One fight that didn't last very long was between Team Jackson's Jodie Esquibel and Brittany Horton of Belen. A former pro boxer (and now a Rio Rancho firefighter), Esquibel's hands where noticeably faster and more effective than Horton's. After blasting her to the cage with punches and body kicks, Esquibel dropped Horton with a head kick and finished the fight with ground strikes.
In a scrap to determine the first Jackson's Series women's bantamweight (135 lb) champion, Julie Kedzie defeated Kaitlin Young in a five round tactical war - and won herself a car from Good Carma as a win bonus. On a disappointing note for Team Jackson's, Kelly Renee was handed a tough loss by a very game Tsui'jen Conanan from Arizona.
The amateur undercard featured twin headlining bouts: the men's and women's finals of the Jackson's/Edge Challenge, a product of a recent talent search for local promising fighters conducted by The Morning Edge on 104.1 FM. In the women's final, Beckie Lobb of Team Renegades used a brutal kickboxing attack to subdue a game but overpowered Katrina Branchal in a bantamweight bout. In the men's final, Edgar Lopez of the Arnold Schwarzenegger Project let loose with a primal scream as he was introduced. After dropping the first round to Armando Medibles, he powered out a come-from-behind victory, thanks in part to some brutal kicks to the ribs and liver of his opponent. In both of these finals, the winner could have easily been a weight class above the losers, in terms of body frame. All four finalists have potential in their respective natural weight classes.
In the next few days I'll be posting exclusive fight and interview footage from the event. Right now I'll start you off with some Greg Jackson cam, if you haven't clicked it already. It shows the master craftsman at work cage-side, in his natural habitat, coaching his fighters through their bouts. Behind the camera, Albuquerque's one and only Diego Sanchez can be heard cheering his teammates until his voice goes hoarse.