Trench Tech Purebred's Mark “The Dark” Nuique and Guam's Robert “The Real Deal” Wusstig of Countershot MMA defended their respective titles in Rites of Passage 13: Destiny held last Friday at the Royal Taga Ballroom of the Saipan World Resort.
Wusstig stunned the crowd, as he knocked off Trench Tech veteran Fasi “Quickdraw” Jesse (9-5) via referee stoppage due to strikes at 4:16 into the third round of their featherweight title bout. Then in the bantamweight fight, Nuique won over Zalaka's Jacob Ilo (1-6) after the latter's corner threw the towel before the start of the third round. Wusstig improved his win-loss record to 5-6, while Nuique beefed up his slate to 9-1.
In the semi-main event shocker, Wusstig was rebuffed a little at the start and was called into the ring before the home contender, but he paid no mind and focused on his task on hand.
The first round was a chess match for leverage, as both fighters primarily worked back and forth from the clinch position taking turns pinning each other against the cage. Jesse tried to slam the champion, but ended up getting turned around and briefly gave up his back to Wusstig from the standing position.He recovered and managed to press Wusstig back on the fence, but could not secure a takedown on his second attempt, despite a large uproar from the 670 crowd.
Aware of Jesse's grappling skills, Wusstig proceeded with caution out of the gate and hardly threw counter strikes, but his patience paid off late in the round, as he landed a guillotine hold and used it to dish out some heavy knees that may have stole the round. The two fights quickly became tangled again in the second round, as Wusstig went for a takedown, and Jesse opted for a Kimura. Round 2 was very even and both displayed true warrior strength. Wusstig managed some more knees just before the bell and still appeared in control, as Jesse was sporting a cut on his left cheek heading into the third frame.
Both fighters pushed each other against the fence early in the third round, but this time Jesse slipped away at one point and scored his takedown. Wusstig hung tough as Jesse maintained top position and just before the one-minute mark, the former got to his feet and immediately unloaded some big head blows down on his defenseless opponent.
After the fight, the former division belt holder Shane “Pikaboo” Alvarez (8-1) of Trench Tech, pleaded for a rematch against Wusstig, and the undisputed champion shrugged, “sure,” although he was inherently put on the spot in front of a partial audience.
Wusstig also tendered his initial aspirations of landing a rematch to redeem his most recent falter to undefeated Filipino-American Mark “Mugen” Striegl (11-0) of Wajutsu Keishukai Gods/Team Buffet in Pacific Xtreme Combat 33 held in August this year. Wusstig injured his forearm in the late loss, but soldiered through it.
In the bantamweight headliner, Nuique displayed superior strength and wrestling ability throughout the match. Ilo was by no means a pushover, but he knew he was outmatched after two spins with the champion. The Zalaka fight showed a lot of guts in round two and made it to the second bell, but was spitting a little blood and the towel flew in before the start of round three.
Guam brought the heat in CNMI's most recent octagon spectacle as four of the former's bets came away victorious, including Spike 22's Jared “The Haole Horror” Melon (6-0), who imposed a rear-naked-choke submission on Trench Tech's Ning “Bo-Slice” Cepeda (4-4) at 2:48 into the first round of the evening's middleweight curtain closer and semi-main event fill-in.
Melon came in with a chip on his shoulder and wasted no time taking it out on his opponent. The semi-main event black horse did a good job cutting off Cepeda in the cage and had plenty of firepower on hand, which he thoroughly deployed once in firing range. Melon basically smothered Cepeda and used a lot of powerful strikes to work position for a takedown that pinned the latter on his stomach and made him ripe for picking.
Other Guam fighters who won their respective bouts were Jose “Young Blood” Ramirez (4-1) of Underworld Xtreme-Guam, who dazed Team Haga and Saipan's greenhorn Travis Eubanks (0-1) at 1:32 into the first round of their welterweight bout, also via referee stoppage caused by a deciding flurry of punches; Trench Tech/Tiyan Tough Walkers' “Shishka” Bob Alvarez (3-0), who pummeled Marianas Elite's Vince “Vince-sanity” Pua (3-2) and notched a verbal submission victory after the first round of their lightweight pairing; and Shishka's bantamweight teammate, Roman “Boom” Alvarez (3-0), who arose triumphant over local-independent fighter, Josh “Oh My Gosh” Cruz (0-4), as referee Keith Nabors saw enough just before the two-minute (1:59) mark of the first round.
Bob Alvarez dominated Pua from the handshake with his impressive ground game and almost finished the latter off in the first round. Pua was just barely saved by the bell, but was battered pretty bad nonetheless and the on-site doctor stopped the fight due to a deep cut under his eye. Afterwards “Shishka” Bob lobbied for an appearance in December 14's Trench Warz 16:Fire Power.
Roman Alvarez also raised some eyebrows by sending Cruz for a ride right off the bat. From there, “Boom” left his calling card in the form of a series of devastating elbows. Cruz squirmed away for a moment, but ended up back in the bottom position where he was pounded until Nabors stepped in.
Ramirez had little birds circling the head of Eubanks in their squabble as a hockey fight broke out between the pair right at the start. Ramirez caught a leaping Eubanks and drove him to the ground, and reigned down a lengthy series of punches from the full mount position. Eubanks had nowhere to run and was swarmed by Ramirez before the former had time to recover his senses. Ramirez continued to feed Eubanks some big shots to finish the latter off, leaving the debuting fighter looking a woozy when the dust cleared. Eubanks did however walk off under his own power.
Notably, Ramirez and Eubanks did a good job livening up the crowd as the clash, although brief, was one of the more exciting features to watch.
Honorable mention goes out to Trench Tech's Renz “The Intense” Benghit (2-0) of Tinian, who put on yet another strong showing in his 140-lb K-1 kickboxing exhibition and recorded an unanimous decision after three rounds over Guam Muay Thai-first timer, Kyle “300” Martin (0-1).
Benghit controlled the pace of the match from the get go and knocked Martin down with a nice knee in round one. Benghit then reestablished himself as the aggressor in the last two rounds, and although he accidentally connected with low blows in rounds two and three, the miscues hardly put a dent in his lead. The Tinian sensation may be ready to ditch the shin guards and all out scrap, given he has a ground game to compliment his stand up skills.
Meanwhile, seven other bouts took place in ROP 13 and results will be published in Saipan Tribune this week.