For Isaiah Rocha it was a short night’s work but a good night’s work.
The 21-year-old from Arroyo Grande won his professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) debut Friday night with a convincing knockout of Las Vegas’ Vladimir Martinez at the 1:47 mark of the first round.
Isaiah Rocha, of Arroyo Grande, top, fights Vladimir Martinez, of Nevada, in a 135-pound professional MMA bout.
Rocha’s pro debut was the main event at WFC 102 (World Fighting Championship) in the Samala Showroom at Santa Ynez’s Chumash Casino.
A sold out house packed the showroom for a 10-fight card that featured both MMA and Muay Thai bouts with at least one Central Coast fighter in each match.
MMA is basically a mixture of boxing, kick boxing and wrestling. Muay (literally Thai boxing) is a combat sport that uses stand-up striking. It is known as the “art of eight limbs” characterized by the combined use of fists, elbows, knees and shins with no wrestling moves allowed.
Sergio Lopez, of Santa Maria, top, fights Javier Iniguez, of Solvang, in a 140-pound MMA bout.
“This is totally different than watching it on TV,” said referee Joe Sullivan. “You can really hear the shots land.”
Rocha’s fight was in the 135-pound bantamweight division. It was scheduled for three 5-minute rounds.
Martinez came out strong at the start of the match, landing an early head kick and then wrestling Rocha to the mat.
But Rocha quickly gained the edge, reversing positions, and began pounding away until referee Larry Landless stepped in at 1:47.
“It was short but it feels great to win my pro debut,” said Rocha. “I’ve been training for this with John Hackelman at The Pit since I was four, since I saw Chuck Liddell on TV. This is something that’s I’ve looked forward to since I was a little kid. It’s my dream and this is the first step toward that.”
Ontario’s Clarence Watson defeated Santa Maria’s Sergio Salazar in the co-main event.
That was a WFC championship fight with the WFC Muay Thai 147-pound lightweight title on the line.
Watson had the edge throughout knocking Salazar to the canvas in both the second and third rounds.
In the fourth, a devastating kick to the head sent Salazar back to the mat and Sullivan stepped in — the fight officially ending with a knockout, 26-seconds into the fourth round.
“He was good. He’s the true champion,” said Salazar, 27, who has been training under coach Nick Renardo at Santa Maria’s Elite Muay Thai Academy for the last two years. “It was a good experience. I like fighting this type of guy, testing my limits. It’s fun to see what you’re made of every time you step into the ring. He just caught me with a head kick and they stopped it.”
Salazar is a 2010 graduate of Pioneer Valley High School where he played football for Greg Dickinson, now an assistant principal.
“A lot of the stuff he taught me back then in football carried over,” said Salazar.
Tre Alvarado, of Santa Maria, top, gets Matt Maxwell, of Grover Beach, down on his way to win the 155-pound MMA bout.
Javier Iniguez was the most local of all the local fighters.
Iniguez is a Solvang native, a 2009 graduate of Santa Ynez High school and, when he’s not training, can be found at the SY Kitchen, an Italian restaurant less than three miles from the Casino.
Iniguez faced Santa Maria’s Sergio Lopez in a 140-pound amateur MMA featherweight bout.
The bout went the full three rounds with both fighters taking turns at pressing the action.
In the end, Lopez won a split decision.
“I thought I won the fight but it was a fair decision,” said Iniguez. “As long as I’m getting hit and hitting back, I love it.”
Erick Renardo, of Santa Maria, top, finishes off Andreli Lomibao, of South Lake Tahoe, in a 142-pound Muay Thai bout.
Concord’s Javier Barrios got the event off to a solid start with a unanimous decision over Santa Maria Elite Muay Thai Academy’s Sebastian Morales in a 140-pound Muay Thai featherweight pro bout.
Osvaldo Hernandez, an independent MMA fighter from Oxnard, pounded out a victory over Ray Gonzalez, from Oregon, in an MMA heavyweight amateur battle.
Hernandez knocked down Gonzalez with a solid left-right-left combo and, with Gonzalez on the mat, Hernandez pounded away at his defenseless opponent forcing referee John Tall to step in and end the fight at 1:20 of the second round.
Santa Maria’s Anthony Topas faced Tracy native and South Lake Tahoe resident Cameron Church in a 155-pound MMA pro lightweight bout.
Topas was no match for Church.
Church was in control from the start, got Topas against the cage and started pounding away with right after right. Topas sank to the canvas and Tall ended it, calling it a knockout, at 1:48 of the first round.
“It’s a huge advantage training up there at altitude. I have so much more energy when I come down to fight close to sea level,” said Church who was making his professional debut. “There’s something about 1:48. I won four or five of my amateur fights at the 1:48 mark.”
Matt Maxwell, of The Pit North, beat Elite Muay Thai’s Tre Alvarado by mounted guillotine submission at 2:04 of the first round in a 155-pound MMA amateur lightweight fight.
Supporters of Erick Renardo, of Santa Maria, celebrate his win over Andreli Lomibao in a 142 pound Muay Thai bout.
South Central LA’s Jasmine Pouncey, in the only women’s fight on the card, beat The Pit’s Gabby Lopez, from Oceano, with an arm bar submission with 54-second left in the third round of a 115-pound MMA amateur straw-weight bout.
Santa Maria Elite Muay Thai’s Erick Renardo won a unanimous decision over South Lake Tahoe’s Andreli Lomibao in a 142-pound Muay Thai pro featherweight match.
And The Pit North Castle Williams defeated on a rear naked choke hold submission with 36-seconds left in the first round of a 145-pound MMA pro featherweight bout.
WFC will be back at the Samala Showroom for a full night of boxing on Oct. 4.