This past Friday night Legacy Fighting Championship 23 went down inside of the Cowboys Dancehall in San Antonio, Texas. AXS TV televised six of the fights and there was plenty of action for Pat Miletich and Micheal Schiavello to call. Three of the fights went the distance, two were won by submission and the main event was the lone KO on the night. It was also the last fight of Pete Spratt’s career as he retired in the ring afterwards.
To many people Tim Means (18-5-1) is considered a veteran of the sport with his twenty-four fights at the age of twenty-nine. He was coming off a 2-2 stint in the UFC with two consecutive losses leading to his release by the UFC. For this fight he was facing Pete Spratt (27-22), a true veteran, who was fighting his fiftieth fight of his career at the age of forty-two. Spratt has fought professionally for over fourteen years. This is an example of the type of fights you get from Legacy; Means is trying to work his way back into the UFC and Spratt is fighting in his hometown for the love of the sport. When you look at his barely above five hundred record it is not too impressive, until you look at the names he has faced. He fought some of the best including current UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and holds wins over Robbie Lawler and Matt Brown. It has been a great career and he is a pioneer of the sport. He will move full-time into the coaching side of the sport and he had four of his fighters win on this same card. He is a part of the new generation of coaches who come from the sport of MMA and not just one discipline. They have an understanding of the unique problems of blending the different techniques together inside of the cage.
The fight itself was quick and brutal. Spratt’s striking was still crisp and he landed a couple of nice inside leg kicks, but he had trouble with the length, size and movement of Means. Their reaches were almost the same as Means’ was only a half-inch longer but he was five inches taller. It was difficult for Spratt to effectively get inside of Means’ outside arsenal. He got caught in a moment where he did not seem to know if he wanted to move back or clinch up. That moment was all Means needed as he held his right hand on Spratt’s right shoulder and brought two quick successive left elbows that sent Spratt sprawling to the canvas. Means pounced like a cat and unleashed a torrent of left hands and the ref moved in to stop the fight.
It was an impressive debut in Legacy for Means and a bittersweet end to the fighting career of Pete Spratt in his hometown. We now get to watch his coaching career take off as he will be focusing on that full-time. It is always good to see a fighter get out before it is too late and with a bright future ahead of him.
The televised part of the card was kicked off by an atomweight fight between Tessa Simpson (2-1) versus Paulina Granados (2-0). This fight was filled with action and was exciting. Much of the action was centered around Simpson almost finishing Granados, who somehow survived the fight. There was no doubting Granados’ toughness after this fight as she fought off numerous submissions, and took some serious punishment in the standup and via some ground and pound. Simpson looked dominant in the grappling part of the fight and took the striking as well. She did not look like a fighter who had not been inside of the cage in four years. Her cardio was also on point as she looked fresh at the end of a very high paced fight. This was her first fight at atomweight and she looked impressive controlling all three rounds for the UD win.
In the next fight Rodrigo Pinheiro (3-1) made quick work of Joseph Daily (6-4) in a welterweight matchup. Pinheiro fighting in front of his hometown crowd was one of the fighters representing Team Spratt. In the opening moments of the round Daily stepped in for a body kick and Pinheiro perfectly timed an inside leg kick that sent Daily down. Pinheiro followed into his guard and was neutralized at first but started to work. Then strangely after he had improved to half-guard and was peppering the side of Daily, the ref stood them up. This essentially rewarded Daily stalling efforts and was clearly trying to get the ref to just stand them back up. It is not the ref’s job to determine where the fight will take place. Pinheiro was working and quite possibly could have moved into mount. Instead Daily is bailed out and tried to seize control of the fight unleashing a frenzied kicking attack. He just missed landing a couple of them cleanly. Schiavello noted that he was leaving himself open after throwing them and needed to tighten up his defense. The two fighters exchanged a series of feints and Miletich pointed out that Daily, “got a gift from the referee on that standup and needs to take advantage of it.” After a few more wild strikes Pinheiro caught another kick and got the takedown and scrambled into side control. Daily tried to explode out and Pinheiro quickly took his back. He locked in the hooks, sunk in the choke and Daily quickly tapped. It was an a nice win for Pinheiro who had a better sense of timing and sharper technique.
Roger Narvaez (5-0) and Hayward Charles (9-4) fought to a three round spilt decision with Narvaez taking it on two of the judges score cards. After two rounds Miletich had it even. He gave the first round to Navaez who did the damage from the top for most of the round. The second went to Charles who took this round by reversing roles and he did the damage from the top and slightly more than Narvaez did in the first. To start the third Narvaez stuffed a takedown and scored one of his own. He immediately started pounding away on Charles who tried to work free from the bottom. He also landed some good strikes from there also, but Narvaez was relentless. Again the referee interrupted Narvaez from striking to stand them up. It was the second time in the night that a ref had stopped action to re-stand two fighters. Again Charles shot for a takedown and once again he ended up on the bottom. They spent another minute on the ground before they were again needlessly brought back to their feet. Just as quickly they were back to the ground with Charles on the bottom and that was how the fight ended. Somehow one judge scored the fight for Charles fortunately the other two got it right and Narvaez got the SD win to stay undefeated.
In a matchup of two heavyweights D.J. Linderman (15-5) and Ridhard Odoms (7-1) battled for the full three rounds. Odoms took the UD and Linderman seemed to genuinely think he had won the fight which made no sense. Each round went down the same way. They would start out striking and Linderman would try for a takedown. He would fail and push Odoms against the cage. At which point Odoms would pound away with fists and elbows mixing in some knees. Everytime they separated it would quickly repeat this scenario until the end of the fight. Odoms did the most damage, landed more strikes and the only thing you could say that Linderman did successfully was push Odoms against the cage. This does not win you fights especially when your opponent is rainy down blows. Odoms was using effective strikes to the legs, body and head and took all three rounds.
The co-main event between Leonard Garcia (16-11-1) and Nick Gonzalez (19-11,1 NC) was the fight of the night. In his first two fights in Legacy FC you see why it took five consecutive losses for Garcia to get cut by the UFC. It is impossible for him to be in a boring fight, he is durable, highly skilled on his feet and the ground, and has a huge heart. His opponent Gonzalez, seemed like he wanted to make up for coming in eight pounds over weight due to starting a new electrician job earlier in the week. He fought with tremendous heart and skill.
They started out trading right away with Garcia landing a nice combination which prompted Gonzalez to go for the surprising takedown. Garcia is not a bad striker, he is definitely a more brawling type of standup fighter. He owned nine wins via submission coming into this fight and Gonzalez has a strong boxing background. To see Gonzalez initiate the first takedown was surprising. In just a few seconds Garcia pushed Gonzalez off and they were quickly back to their feet and banging away at each other. It was back and forth with Garcia getting the better of it by a thin margin until Gonzalez landed a left to the body, right to the body and right hook to the side of the head combination. This sent Garcia crashing to the canvas. Almost as quickly as he went down he recovered and they were back to their feet again. Gonzalez clinched up with him and pressed him against the cage. Now most fighters would be in trouble but Garcia is a different cat and now the fight is on. Miletich and Schiavello note that Garcia is smiling at Gonzalez’ corner and he then landed a nice elbow to the face of Gonzalez. The spend the last-minute and forty-five seconds of the round exchanging strikes. Gonzalez was using mostly his hands, rocking Garcia’s head back numerous times and mixing in an occasional leg kick. Meanwhile, Garcia answered back using more kicks to the head and body sending Gonzalez’ head bobbing back and forth. It was a frenetically paced round and at the end, Garcia had that little boy a play grin on his face in his corner between rounds.
The first round was a classic Garcia kind of round. He comes out aggressive a little bit wild, gets rocked and something clicks inside of him. It is like he grows more impervious with each strike he receives from his opponent. His resiliency can sap the will from his opponent as he just keeps coming forward despite the damage he takes.
In the beginning of the second round Gonzalez was the aggressor. He was the one moving Garcia back and getting slightly better of the standup. Then Garcia landed a kick to the outside of the left knee of Gonzalez’ lead leg. He was slightly gimpy on it for a moment. Garcia took the opportunity to score a takedown and Gonzalez quickly worked back to his feet. Right away Garcia went back to work of the left leg of Gonzalez who started to slow down. This allowed Garcia to catch Gonzalez with a right that dropped him. Before Garcia can pounce Gonzalez got up. He was quickly rocked again but somehow kept his feet. Garcia landed several clean punches and a head kick and somehow the bloodied masked face Gonzalez kept firing back. Somehow Gonzalez survived the round and Garcia’s grin is becoming permanently plastered on his face as he is clearly having fun.
They came out and embraced to the cheers of the crowd to start the third round. The round was just more of the same juicy fast paced action from the first two. They were both landing with Garcia getting slightly the better of the exchanges but Gonzalez kept coming and striking. After a minute and forty-five seconds of high paced striking Garcia scored a screaming slam takedown and tried to secure a choke but Gonzalez fought it off and they were back to their feet. Garcia quickly landed a sweet right hook to the face. He landed several leg kicks each time letting out a yell. They are bending Gonzalez with each impact, but he still kept coming. They spend another minute exchanging bombs. Gonzalez was a little cleaner and Garcia had more power. They were each taking major damage and ignoring it. With just under a minute Garcia got another takedown. He went to work, but Gonzalez quickly started to escape and get back to his feet. Garcia took his back before he could regain his footing. From there Garcia pulled him down, locked in the hooks and secured the neck. Gonzalez had no choice but to tap with just seventeen seconds left in the round. it was an exciting definitive finish to what was easily the fight of the night and a contender for fight of the year. Both fighters had each other in trouble and both responded with the heart of a warrior. Garcia was able to dig just a little deeper to get the exciting victory. With another win or two like this he could easily find himself back inside the octagon. Until then make sure you enjoy his work with Legacy FC.
It was an another great night of fights courtesy of Legacy FC via AXS TV. We saw a pioneer of the sport make his last fight inside of the cage as Pete Spratt transitioned to being a full-time coach. Tim Means looked sharp with his brutal KO of Spratt. He too could easily be back to the UFC soon but until then he is excited to be fighting for Legacy FC. Despite the main event, it was the non-stop action of the two lion-hearted warriors of the co-main event that will have people buzzing. Garcia threw down a challenge and Gonzalez was able to meet him right up until the closing seconds before he had to tap. It is a fight that will be a strong contender for fight of the year.
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