Epic 26: Full Fight Recaps


All photographs provided courtesy of Cathy Panado Photography

Epic Fighting CEO Jason Stewart and the Epic Fighting Team ended the month of September with a bang this past Friday night as live amateur MMA action returned to the Four Points Sheraton in Kearny Mesa with a fun-filled night of food, music, entertainment and mixed martial art action.

The Epic Team, which includes CEO Jason Stewart, matchmaker Heather Hyatt, ring personalities Carlos Kremer and Sal Arellano and Harvey Castellano have been giving fight fans live music, popular food vendors, local sponsors, and most importantly exciting MMA action to the fans for years. This fact was no different as Epic 26 impressed on all levels and was capped off by an exciting main event between Victory MMA fighter
Bruce Smith and battle-tested brawler Ryan Lilley.

If you haven’t been to an Epic Fighting event yet, there is no better time than now to check out what all of the hype is about. With ticket prices ranging from general admission to VIP table seating, Epic Fighting truly excels at giving fight fans a complete experience that has a little of something for everyone.

Epic is already planning the next event, which will be November 14 live from the Four Points Sheraton. Get your tickets now for Epic 27 by going to http://www.epicfighting.com.

Main Event – Featherweights (131.5 – 145 pounds)
Bruce Smith (3-0) vs Ryan Lilley (4-5)

In the main event of the evening, Bruce “Swift” Smith made his long awaited return to the Epic cage as he squared off against battle-tested Ryan Lilley in a non-title fight. Lilley, a veteran fighter out of Bas Rutten Elite MMA looked to get on the winning side of the coin as he was fighting in his tenth fight.

Smith, who recently made a change in trainers and now has Chris “The Crippler” Leben in his corner, has been waiting to make his return to the Epic cage and looked to end the night with a victory for San Diego.

The main event kicked off in round one with some good back and forth action as both men used the ring to their advantage throwing combinations and pushing the action. Lilley choose to throw some wild shots early and opened himself up for an early takedown that Smith took advantage of. Smith controlled Lilley against the cage, landing several punches and knees that had the crowd on its feet. A low blow to Smith by Lilley caused a brief halt to the action before one last scramble against the cage saw the round coming to an end.

In round two, Smith flashed some exciting kicks and pushed the action before landing a takedown and gaining full mount early in the round. A nice scramble by Lilley allowed him to escape danger before Smith once again earned control of Lilley’s back. Smith applied some good ground and pound and even made an attempt at an arm bar before the round came to a close. Lilley was able to escape and force a third and final round.

In the third and final round things picked up where they left off with both men throwing leather and looking to end the fight. A good back and forth in the middle of the round led to a big slam by Smith that all but sealed the victory. Smith took Lilley’s back and applied heavy punches before the fight came to an end and both fighters showed a mutual admiration for one another.

Result: Bruce Smith by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Welterweights (155.1 – 170 pounds)
Kai Damico (1-1) vs Robert Marsters (1-0)

In what ended up being the “Fight of the Night,” The Arena MMA was represented once again by Robert Marsters who looked to earn his second win inside the Epic cage. His opponent, Kai Damico, of Team Quest brought an even record into the cage and looked to challenge The Arena MMA fighter.

From the start, these two warriors decided this fight was going to be a war. The phrase “fighting in a phone booth” could not be overused in round one as both men were content throwing punches and kicks throughout the round. Marsters landed some vicious combinations going low and high as Damico was on his bicycle for the later part of the round. Marsters ability to change levels and land clean strikes certainly gave him the advantage going into round two.


In the second, after a fairly even first round the action continued with both fighters landing strikes, evading big shots and showcasing solid stand up. Damico looked more comfortable in round two, landing combinations and evading Marsters strikes, which setup a sudden death third and final round.

As was the trend in the first two rounds, the third round did not disappoint. With both corners likely advising their fighters that they needed the third round to win, both men came out strong landing vicious strikes and giving the crowd something to cheer about. At the end of the round, a brutal combination by Marsters hurt Damico and had the Quest fighter backpedaling against the cage.

Marsters did his best to end the fight and kept Damico against the cage landing non-stop strikes until the referee was forced to step in and stop the fight. These two men gave it their all and earned the trophy for “Fight of the Night,” which was well-deserved.

Result: Robert Marsters by strikes in the third round

Featherweights (131.5 – 145 pounds)
Joshua Marer (0-3) vs Christian Leon (1-0)

The “Knockout of the Night” was an easy one this time around as Epic highlight reel Christian Leon, from The Arena MMA, who went legend in his last bout with a knockout of the year kick, made his return to the cage in the fourth fight of the night against Joshua Marer from Team Quest.

In round one, the Muay Thai game was apparent as both men were more than happy to trade punches and kicks for the entire part of the first round. With chants of “liver kick” coming from the crowd, Leon once again made his presence known inside the Epic cage as he landed a vicious kick to the liver that sent Marer to the ground in pain. The fight was called immediately as Leon earned another walk-off victory and possibly another chance at Internet fame as this video will certainly go viral.

Result: Christian Leon by referee due to strikes.

Light Heavyweights (185.1 – 205 pounds)
Harlem Dillon (0-0) vs Andreu Mendoza (0-0)

In the second bout of the night, Englishman Harlem Dillon took a trip across the pond to showcase his kickboxing skills and represent Victory MMA against The Fight Academy brawler Andreu Mendoza. In what could have doubled as “Comeback Fight of the Night,” the bout between Dillon and Mendoza had it all and ended with Dillon earning a victory and the “Submission of the Night” trophy.

In round one, the brawling Mendoza came out fast and furious out-striking the striker by landing several combinations and keeping the Englishman at bay for most of the round. Dillon landed a takedown late in the round, but Mendoza was able to escape and land punches at will. With the likes of Chris Leben and Dean Lister in his corner, Dillon certainly has the tools to end the fight on the feet or the ground. This fact was apparent in round two as Dillon found an opening and took advantage.

In round two the action continued as Mendoza landed several hard combinations before landing a takedown in the middle of the round. After being stood up by the referee, Mendoza went in for a takedown and Dillon found a window that allowed him to sink in a choke on the feet. After transitioning quickly to the mat with the choke still intact, Dillon sunk in the guillotine choke and walked away with an excellent victory.

Result: Harlem Dillon by guillotine choke


Flyweights (115.1 – 125 pounds)
Jacquelyn Vandenburgh (0-2) vs Melissa Rivera (0-0)

For the first time of the evening, the ladies took center stage to a roaring crowd as Melissa Rivera looked ready to battle Jackie Vandenburgh from Team Quest.

Rivera started the round fast, showcasing her boxing skills as she landed several combinations that had Vandenburgh turned around and confused. A takedown by Rivera followed and she took the back of Vandenburgh in the middle of the round. An attempt for a rear naked choke didn’t come to fruition as the round came to an end.

The second round was a different story as Vandenburgh was the first to unleash an attack, quickly taking the fight to the ground and sinking in a tight rear naked choke on Rivera. Rivera was forced to tap early in round two.

Result: Jackie Vandenburgh by rear naked choke in round two

Middleweights (170.1 – 185 pounds)
Adrian Gonzales (2-0) vs Michael Thomas (2-0)

In the tenth fight of the night, two Epic veterans squared off as the always physical Michael Thomas faced Defiant Muay Thai fighter Adrian Gonzales in a battle of middleweights.

The action was mild in the first round as both fighters were in a “feeling out” mode through most of the round. Gonzales landed what would have been a solid take down if not for Thomas grabbing the fence, however, Gonzales controlled most of the round on the ground and in the clinch.

The ground game took over in round two as a brief exchange on the feet kicked off the round before Gonzales earned another takedown and went to work on the ground and pound. The round ended with Gonzales once again on top in what looked to be his round.

Sensing the need for a knockout, Thomas started to take some chances on the feet and threw several solid combinations. Unable to land them all cleanly, Thomas looked frustrated as Gonzales took the fight to the mat once again with a nice takedown at the end of the round. A late scramble by Thomas brought the two back to their feet, however, it was too little too late as Gonzales walked away with the unanimous decision.

Result: Adrian Gonzales (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

Welterweights (155.1 – 170 pounds)
Anthony Peairs (1-0) vs Alex Trinidad (2-1)

After a brief intermission, the fights continued with none other than The Arena MMA making another appearance in the cage as Alex Trinidad took on Anthony Peairs from Team Quest. The well-represented teams looked to get the fans back on their feet and take their shot at the Fight of the Night title.

A brief back and forth on the feet started the round as both men were feeling each other out until Trinidad was able to take the fight to the ground and land an intense ground and pound that led to Peairs covering up on his stomach before the referee stepped in to stop the fight. The Arena MMA once again walked away victorious with a fast finish in the ninth fight of the night.

Result: Alex Trinidad via strikes in round 1

Light Heavyweights (185.1 – 205 pounds)
Ricardo Lopez (0-0) vs Daniel Thompkins (0-0)

Two more Epic newcomers made their way to the cage for the eighth fight of the night as 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu was represented by Ricardo Lopez and OC Kickboxing and MMA Daniel Thompkins looked to earn his first victory inside the Epic cage.

It was fast, furious and ended quickly as Lopez made his presence known by dropping Thompkins just 10 seconds into the first round and ending the fight before it even started. Thompkins ate a hard punch behind the ear and several follow-up shots that sent the fighter to the ground hard, forcing the referee to stop the fight.

Result: Ricardo Lopez by knockout 10 seconds into the first round

Lightweights (145.1 – 155 pounds)
Diego Rivera (0-0) vs Peter Pellerito (0-0)

The lightweights continued the action as the night quickly moved along with Victory MMA fighter Diego Rivera squared off against Blackhouse MMA brawler Peter Pellerito.

Diego “Crazy Eyes” Rivera decided round one would be his as he earned an early takedown and applied heavy-handed ground and pound on Pellerito throughout the round. Rivera controlled the cage and the round and almost earned an early finish.

In round two, Rivera continued the onslaught and quickly took Pellerito to the mat before landing huge, non-stop rights and left to the body and face. A sequence of thudding body shots by Rivera had the crowd groaning as it was clear Pellerito was in trouble. Pellerito made a last-ditch attempt to escape the onslaught but was unable as Rivera earned a victory due to referee stoppage.

Result: Diego “Crazy Eyes” Rivera due to referee stoppage via strikes in round two

Lightweights (145.1 – 155 pounds)
Joseph Williams (1-0) vs Jefferson Creighton (2-0)

Once again The Arena MMA made its way to the cage as Jefferson Creighton faced off against Joseph Williams in a battle of Lightweights.

An early slam by Williams led to a great back and forth scramble on the ground before Creighton made his way to his feet and landed a huge slam. Williams, who seemed confident on the ground, did his best to scramble into position before sinking in a tight Kimora on Creighton.

Result: Joseph Williams fighting out of Gracie Temecula by kimora

Bantamweights (125 – 135 pounds)
Jose Carlos Cortez (0-0) vs Jacob Sandoval (0-0)

The bantamweights kept the night going strong as two newcomers to the Epic cage made their debuts from two of the area’s most respectable fight outfits. Sandoval, a fighter out of Blackhouse MMA squared off against Jose Cortez in the third fight of the night.

The newcomers took the fight fast in round one as nerves didn’t appear to be an issue for either men. A steady barrage of punches from Cortez led to an early takedown that was reversed by Sandoval in the middle of the round. Sandoval controlled most of the round from the top and landed decent ground and pound to end the round.

Cortez kicked off round two by showcasing his strikes, however, Sandoval used excellent footwork and head movement to avoid almost all of the attempts. A high kick by Cortez was quickly turned into a takedown by Sandoval who continued to control the round from the top position landing several solid punches and one attempt at a rear naked choke. Cortez escapes the round from the mat and we are heading to a third and final round.

The trend continued into the third and final round as Sandoval did his best to control the fight from the top landing an early takedown and applying solid ground and pound. The round ended with a bang as Sandoval easily scooped and slammed Cortez with ten seconds left all but sealing a victory for the Blackhouse MMA fighter.

Result: Jacob Sandoval earns his debut win by decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-27)

Featherweights (131.1 – 145 pounds)
Timothy Molinar (0-2) vs Harrison Wilson (0-0)

Renowned San Diego gym, The Arena MMA, was represented in the first fight of the night as 20-year old Harrison Wilson made his Epic debut against independent fighter Timothy Molinar who looked to earn his first victory inside the cage.

Molinar kicks off the action with two spinning high kicks that only find air as grappler Harrison Wilson gets a solid takedown and begins controlling the action through most of the first round. Wilson gains full mount and transitions quickly to the back of Molinar before sinking in a tight rear naked choke for the tapout victory.

Result: Harrison Wilson earns his debut win with a rear naked choke in round 1 over Timothy Molinar.

EPIC 27 Around the Corner…

With another fight night in the books, Epic Fighting continues to give the fans what they need. Fights. Fun. Food. Entertainment. To learn more about the Epic experience, you need to see it for yourself.
Tickets for Epic 27 are on sale now and can be purchased at http://www.epicfighting.com.

Be sure to check out the Epic Fighting website now http://www.epicfighting.com and get your tickets. Follow Epic Fighting on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/EpicFight and Twitter @EpicFighting to find special discount codes for your tickets. Epic 26 is an event for all ages, parking is free and tickets can be upgraded at the door if capacity permits.

Follow THEFIGHTVOICE, at http://www.thefightvoice.com, on Twitter @thefightvoice, Instagram at thefightvoice and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/fight.voice as we continue to bring fight news, live fight coverage and feature stories to the San Diego fight community.

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