On Friday night Denver’s Paramount MMA 7 served up a host of exciting fights featuring up-and-coming stars, big show veterans, and amateur talents trying to gain experience and establish a foothold in the sport. Everyone at the top of the card was on audition for a potential UFC promotion, which only added to an already charged atmosphere in an intimate Paramount Theatre setting that proved perfect for a night of fights. Read on for highlights from the show, which included huge wins from Derek Brenon, Brian Rogers, and Nick Rhoads.
Brenon Lives Up to the Hype in 24 Seconds
When promoter Tony Sims learned that Dana White planned to be in the building for Paramount 7, his first thought was to call up undefeated Ithaca College All-American wrestler Derek Brenon (4-0) and get him booked on the card ASAP (if you haven’t checked out our feature-length interview piece with Brenon yet, click here). Brenon came out calm and composed in the biggest spot of his young career and absolutely backed up that hype, and then some, in his featured featherweight contest with former amateur MMA star Jesse “The Blue Eyed Samurai” O’Rullian (1-2). O’Rullian came out strong, flicking out an impressive question mark kick that whizzed by Brenon’s face in the opening seconds. But that flashy offering was to be the highlight of the night for the Utah native, as Brenon responded by timing a clinch entry and bullying O’Rullian against the fence before snatching his neck. Just moments later, the 27-year-old former #1 ranked 157 pound amateur wrestler in the nation secured a tap via guillotine choke. This 24 second victory was an emphatic statement by the explosive and skilled Brenon, who appears to have the total package skill-wise and seems primed for big things at the highest level of the sport.
Brian Rogers Grinds Out the Main Event
Twelve fight Bellator veteran Brian Rogers (14-9) came out guns blazing in his main event Paramount light heavyweight title fight against three-time Legacy competitor Canaan Grigsby (8-6), smashing him with powerful right hands that had the 6’3” “Superbeast” staggered against the cage early. But Rogers let him off the hook rather than going for the finish, circling away before throwing an impressive flying knee that saw the ex-Bellator star fly halfway across the cage. Shortly thereafter the Rocky Mountain air seemed to catch up to the big man, as his high-paced movement and power offense went out the window in exchange for a clinch and takedown focused approach. Conveniently for Rogers, even when he was totally exhausted late in round two and early in the third Grigsby still wasn’t able to defend the takedown and found himself planted firmly on his back for much of the latter portion of the bout. It wasn’t until the final moments of the contest that Grigsby managed to seriously rock Rogers, and with about ten seconds left he nailed an uppercut that had Rogers on unseaworthy footing. But the Oklahoman didn’t have the gas left to pursue the finish, and Rogers barely made it to the bell in a fight where he ended up winning a clear-cut unanimous decision. To be fair to both fighters almost everyone in the 205 pound division has a hard time keeping the gas tank full over a full 15 minutes at Denver elevation, and they each deserve massive kudos for battling through the adversity and leaving everything they had to offer in the cage.
“Nyquil” Beats Mercado at His Own Game
When Nick “Nyquil” Rhoads (10-3) learned that he would be facing former RFA and Victory FC title challenger Jarred Mercado (14-5) in the Paramount MMA 7 co-main event, he knew that two things were certain: this was a golden opportunity to pick up the biggest win of his career, and he was going to be in for a steady diet of takedown attempts from the former amateur wrestling star. The hard work that Rhoads put in on his takedown defense showed on Mercado’s very first attempt, as the 26-year-old prospect stuffed the shot with a perfectly-timed sprawl and managed to keep the fight standing for most of round one. Although Mercado did manage to score a few brief takedowns over the course of the bout, Rhoads gained steam as the fight wore on and managed to score reversals and takedowns of his own. Rounds two and three saw Rhoads win the bulk of the grappling exchanges and the standup salvos, and in the end the gritty Arizona native picked up the biggest win of his career via unanimous decision and went home with the shiny gold Paramount MMA featherweight title.
Action-Packed Undercard Offerings
The action came fast and furious on the Paramount MMA 7 undercard, as only one bout went to decision and very few even managed to find their way to the end of the first round:
– Lightweight Yomi Heredia (3-2) may not own a great pro record at first glance, but his two early career losses were by decision to vastly more experienced fighters with a combined record of 27-10. Heredia showed off both his toughness and talents in his bout with Ludwig MMA’s Nicholi Navarro (4-4), as he weathered Navarro’s early striking storm before getting the fight to the ground and finishing matters with a ground-and-pound TKO finish.
– Two of Colorado’s top female amateur strawweights did battle, with Factory X Muay Thai’s Brittany Boone (5-2 am) doing just enough work on the feet to overcome quality ground work from Cara Greenwell (2-1 am) en route to a split decision nod.
– In a lightweight pro kickboxing attraction, local talents Justin Moss (1-0 pro KB) and Joe Miles (0-1 pro KB) threw down with reckless abandon in an in-the-pocket contest that would have earned applause from any Muay Thai enthusiast (despite its limited ruleset). Just as Miles seemed to be making headway, Moss landed a crushing right hand that left his opponent slumped on the canvas unconscious for over thirty seconds. Quite a spectacular finish, as Justin Moss scored the surefire knockout of the night.
– Hard-hitting Elevation Fight Team flyweight Miguel Perez (2-0) noticeably rocked opponent Jose Gomez (1-3) early and often when their bout was on the feet, though Gomez managed to hang tough despite losing all three rounds of the contest. Meanwhile the rest of the amateur prelim card was an all-finish affair, with welterweight Jay Faiella (4-0 am) ground and pounding out Brandon White (4-2 am) for a second round TKO; light heavyweight Colorado State wrestling champ Grant Neal (2-0 am) earned a very quick and impressive RNC submission win over Joey Chacon (2-2 am); Factory X middleweight Nick Lancaster (6-2 am) crushed Jesse Ames (3-3 am) with a clean knockout punch 74 seconds into their bout; and featherweight Jorge Sanchez (2-0 am) made quick work of the debuting Robin Maggs (0-1 am) via RNC in the opening fight of the evening.
A Great Atmosphere for Bouts at the Paramount
If you’ve never attended an MMA event in an old-school theatre venue like the Paramount, rest assured that there’s a whole lot to like about watching the action unfold inside “The Cage on the Stage”. Every seat in the house has a great view of what’s going on both on the feet and on the ground, and there’s also a big screen positioned right above the cage for those moments when the referee, a ringpost, or the patron in front of you happens to block your direct view. Speaking of the referees, Colorado state officials Tom Johnson, Tim Mills, and Adam Martinez did a fine job keeping things running smoothly and the judges rendered logical decisions when called upon. Flashy ring announcer Al Pallone added a dash of pageantry to the proceedings, which featured luminaries like Joe Warren and Shane Carwin in attendance. All in all this was a great night of fast-paced fighting action with a large and appreciative crowd – kudos to promoters Tony Sims, Dennis Jackson, and Tim Brower for putting on a quality show, and here’s looking forward to many more editions of Paramount MMA in the future.