Crowd favorite and Vicious Strength MMA (Durango) amateur mixed martial artist Grant Hobbs looked down for the count on Saturday night at the Ute Mountain Casino.
Hobbs learned that day he would be fighting at 130 pounds against the 6-foot-2 Shelby Rice out of Calera, Okla., instead of the scouted opponent he thought he would face.
It didnt intimidate me. I was just amazed how somebody can be 62 and weigh 130 pounds, Hobbs said about Rice.
Hobbs attacked first with a hard jab to the temple and then took Rice to the ground. The former standout Dove Creek wrestler is well familiar with this fighting style.
I wanted to stand; 62 is a lot to stand with. I didnt know the reach, so I just went to where I was best, Hobbs said.
However, the towering Rice appeared stronger and was beating Hobbs at his own game. Rice took control. Hobbs had to play defense from Rice fists, and the two artists jockeyed for position.
Rice jabbed at Hobbs ribs, as he protected his face. With the three-minute first round winding down and the fighters backed against the cage, the 10-second signal sounded and Hobbs wrestling instincts kicked in. In a matter of seconds, Hobbs got Rice in a triangle hold and then got behind and put Rice in an armbar, chokehold. Hobbs ultimately beat the clock, as Rice tapped out at the 2:59 mark of Round 1, to steal the win. Hobbs (5-2) climbed to the top of the cage and pumped his fist in celebration to the exhilarated crowd.
Tough opponent, man. Im glad I got to fight somebody like that, Hobbs said after outlasting Rice. Its amazing to come and fight in front of my home crowd. It was a thrill to get to fight somebody that big.
To gut out a win like that was a much-needed learning experience for Hobbs, who has won his last two fights.
It showed me a lot of things; that I can hit somebody thats 62 and hit somebody thats 55. My jiu jitsu has came a long ways, Hobbs said. Everybody thinks that just because I was a wrestler, I dont need jiu jitsu. I just put on a fight and showed jiu jitsu in my mind.
Hobbs will next fight at King of the Cage Fight to Live at the Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino in Santa Fe, N.M., on Saturday, May 14, against an opponent yet to be determined.
Other amateur fights saw Cortez native Dominic Gustamantes (0-2) lose at 170 pounds by submission to Timo Molina (1-0) of Grants, N.M., in the first-round.
Hobbs Vicious Strength MMA teammate Nick McNulty made his debut at 135 pounds. McNulty got the first punches in but lost in the first-round to Rudy Kennedy (1-1) of Gallup, N.M., by a rear-naked, chokehold. Despite the loss, McNulty got a great taste of fighting.
Mainly for me in my first experience was to stay calm and learn how to keep my calmness, keep my energy the whole fight, no matter what, McNulty said. I wanted to win, but basically its the ultimate test to see if I really love it or not. I really did love it. It was great. I really had fun.
In the main event professional fight, Treston Thomison of Solar, Okla., moved to 2-0 as a pro with a major upset of Cris Leyva (12-2) of Farmington, N.M., at 157 pounds. Leyva dominated the fight and landed punch after punch to Thomison on the ground, but the man from Solar locked Leyva in an armbar, and Leyva was forced to tapout. The traveling Farmington faithful was stunned.
The next scheduled King of the Cage fights in Towaoc are set for Saturday, July 16, at the Ute Mountain Casino. A starting time has yet to be determined.
Reach Bobby Abplanalp at email@example.com.