José Alday prevailed in a war with Gustavo Lopez to become the first ever bantamweight champion in Combate Americas on Friday night.
Gustavo Lopez nearly flipped the script for Combate Americas, as he engaged in a three round epic against José Alday in the main event of Combate Americas on Friday night. Lopez was ineligible to win the belt after missing weight, but Alday prevailed by winning a split-decision to become the inaugural bantamweight champion for Combate Americas.
— Combate Americas (@combateamericas) September 15, 2018
Alday came out sharp in the first round, scoring a knockdown early and looking to mix-up his punches and kicks in the center of the cage. Lopez recovered quickly and got the fight to the mat, delivering huge ground-and-pound from the top position. Alday survived the barrage and was able to get another brief knockdown upon getting back to the feet.
In the second round, Lopez had the moment of the fight in securing an early takedown and a deep guillotine that appeared to all watching to be the end of the fight. Alday escaped the submission, working his way back to the feet and scoring another brief knockdown with a stiff jab. Lopez would get the fight back to the mat and maintain control for the rest of the round.
The fight, according to many, was even going into the third and Alday was able to be the slightly more active and accurate fighter on the feet. Lopez scored one takedown in the center of the cage early in the round but Alday was able to get back to his feet without absorbing serious damage. Lopez would get the fight to the ground one final time in the final thirty seconds but was unable to do much with the position before time ran out.
The judges scored the fight a split-decision with two scores of 29-28, one for each fighter. The third score was controversial as judge Tom Gabauer scored the fight 30-27 for Alday despite the second round unanimously being seen as being dominated by Lopez.
Alday now becomes the first champion in Combate Americas. The promotion had previously attempted to crown a 135 champion in 2016, which Lopez also competed for. In that instance, Lopez lost the fight to John Castaneda who missed weight and thus no champion was crowned that night.
Alday asked CEO Campbell McLaren for his first title defense to be held in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico or in his adopted home of Tucson, Arizona. It is widely speculated that the plan is for the new champion Alday to face former UFC stand-out Erik “Goyito” Perez either later this year or early in 2019.
In the co-main event, Tracy Cortez throttled her short notice replacement Karen Cedillo. Cortez had full control from the opening bell, getting the fight to the ground immediately and staying active with ground-and-pound and seeking submissions. It was more of the same in the second until Cedillo was unable to slow down the onslaught and the referee stopped the bout. Cortez told Cagesidepress before the fight that she hoped to stay active and that she was also still signed with Invicta FC. During the broadcast, it was mentioned that Cortez had taken the fight in Combate Americas as a one fight deal.
Opening up the main card, Rafael “Gifted” Garcia scored a first round knockout of LaRue Burley in one of the most impressive finishes of the night. Garcia was the shorter fighter but was able to control the center and found frequent openings for the right hand, eventually connecting on the chin and following-up for the finish. Garcia moves to 8-0 and the victory over Burley is his fourth in the promotion.
Notable action from the prelims included a perfect 3-0 for The MMA Lab as Mike Hamel, Yaotzin Mesa, and Richard Palencia recording victories on the card. In post-lim action, Eduardo Alvarado scored one of the biggest upsets of the night in stopping former UFC fighter Roman Salazar with a first round TKO via liver shot.
Main Card Results:
José Alday def. Gustavo Lopez via Split Decision (30-27, 29-28, 28-29)
Tracy Cortez def. Karen Cedillo via TKO – Round 2 (3:53)
Rafael Garcia def. LaRue Burley via Knockout – Round 1 (2:26)
Flavian Pilgrim def. Austin Wourms via TKO – Round 1 (2:10)
Eduardo Alvarado def. Roman Salazar via TKO – Round 1 (4:14)
Richard Palencia def. Federico Oliveira via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
Yaotzin Mesa def. Gilberto Aguilar via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) – Round 1 (3:58) retirement bout
Mike Hamel def. Javier Reyes via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Orlando Jimenez def. Joey Trevino via TKO – Round 1 (3:21)