You could literally hear a pin drop Saturday night at the Ute Mountain Casino after the conclusion of King of the Cage Sandman.
The Towaoc crowd stood stunned silent when the cage official signaled to ring the bell.
One man laid on his back with a bloody, battered and bruised face. The other man climbed to the top of the cage screaming in celebration of his total knockout victory.
The man who laid down, while trainers and paramedics tended to him, was the hometown hero.
Isaque Sandman Martinez returned to the cage and made his 2012 debut. Unfortunately, the Sandman bit off more than he could chew.
One punch from 6-foot-6 Lamont Stafford was all it took. The long reach of the Hobart, Okla., native physically winded Martinez. Another huge blow and the Sandman was on the ground. The bigger, stronger Stafford went for the knockout. Using Martinezs head as a punching bag, just 1 minute, 31 seconds into the first-round of the professional main event, the fight was over.
The Sandman is now 11-3 as a pro and suffered his first loss by TKO.
He took me right out of my game plan, Martinez said. I think after a couple blows, I was kind of out of it. Thats where the game plan went out the door.
Stafford (4-3 pro, 2-1 amateur) drove 14 hours from the Oklahoma City area. But traveling long distance is nothing new for the quick striker Mixed Martial Artist.
Ive been watching his fights and seen he was going to try to take me to the ground. I was just trying to use my reach, Stafford said. Im 66 and hes only like 61, so I knew I had the reach and used that as much as I could. I kept him from going to the ground where he wanted to be.
For Martinez (Lifer MMA Cortez), its back to the drawing board. Ongoing health problems and fighting up a weight at 195 from 185 was a recipe for disaster.
I got to start training hard. I got a tough fight coming back, Martinez said. Its a big career move to be fighting bigger fighters like this. I need to stay at 185. I need to stay at my weight and not agree upon fights like this with huge guys. Hes huge!
Lifer MMA fighters went 3-2 on the day.
The other pro fight featured another local hero in Grant Hobbs. He sought retribution from losing his pro debut in April. When Robert Fielder refused to fist pump Hobbs before the 125-pound fight, the battle of former high school state champion wrestlers soon wasnt a battle. It was a massacre in favor of the former Colorado state wrestling champion.
One thing that Im all about is sportsmanship. The guy did not want to touch my glove. That set me off a little more, said Hobbs about Fielder, who is a former Oklahoma state high school wrestling champion.
Hobbs scored a huge takedown when he picked up Fielder and body slammed him. From there, the punching ensued, as the crowd cheered with exuberance.
Fielder tried to escape in his pro debut, but there was nowhere to go. Hobbs continued his punishment with right and left hooks.
It was time to end it.
The former Dove Creek High School wrestling star put Fielder in a rear naked chokehold and Fielder tapped out at the 1:25 mark of the first-round.
Hobbs earned his redemption and evened his pro mark at 1-1.
I just did what Ive been doing my whole career. I didnt change anything up, said Hobbs, a soon-to-be father. I went to the ground, stayed focus, calm. When I compete at my top level, Im out usually on this (winning) end. Im so proud and happy of Lifer MMA. Im 1-1. I feel like a new fighter.
Fielders trip back to Oklahoma City will indeed be a long one.
Perhaps the most entertaining fight of the night was the first one on the fight card.
Two evenly matched 170-pound amateurs went toe-to-toe. Both fighters were tall and long, and used their stand up boxing skills to see whod be the last one standing.
Both tired, bloodied up and wobbly, it was David Lyons final right hook that sent Quinn McConnell (Aztec, N.M.) to the ground at the 2:48 mark of Round 2.
McConnell didnt get up and an exhausted Lyons got out with the win.
I just kind of had to mentally dig in, said Lyons, whos 2-0 as an amateur. Every time I got hit in the face or got rocked back, I just kept thinking that I couldnt go down. I had to really focus on offensive. I couldnt keep defending. It was great to win.
At 168 pounds, Dominic Gurule returned to the cage. He came in 0-3 with each loss by unanimous judges decision.
His opponent, Joey Munoz, came in at 5-0. The fight would go to the judges yet again.
Could history repeat itself for Gurule? Yes. Did history repeat itself? On this night, a more conditioned Gurule outlasted Munoz. Judges unanimously scored Gurule a hard fought 30-27 victory.
Gurule is now a winning MMA fighter, while Munoz tasted his first defeat.
Its all about the training, man. You put the time in, youre going to come out on top, said Gurule, who recovered from a dislocated shoulder in his last fight. You got to always out-train your opponent. I tell you what, a win is what you train for. When you get it, its amazing. Its better than any rush you could ever feel.
Rounding out the Lifer MMA fighters is Joey Trevino at 130 pounds. Trevinos amateur fight went the distance with Chad Padilla, of Albuquerque.
However, Trevino (1-2) didnt garner the same result from the judges. Padilla won by unanimous decision.
The next King of the Cage fights are slated for Saturday, Dec. 1, at the Ute Mountain Casino in Towaoc.