Hobbs returns to glory

After 9-month layoff, local favorite wins amateur cage fight by TKO

Grant Hobbs punches Sergio Gutierrez during his 130-pound amateur fight Saturday night. Hobbs won by second-round TKO at King of the Cage, Underground 73 at the Ute Mountain Casino in Towaoc. Enlargephoto

Journal/Sam Green

Grant Hobbs punches Sergio Gutierrez during his 130-pound amateur fight Saturday night. Hobbs won by second-round TKO at King of the Cage, Underground 73 at the Ute Mountain Casino in Towaoc.

When friends fight, it’s not often the surroundings are a fenced circle called a cage.

Outside the cage, hundreds of people chant, cheer and yell at the two mixed martial artists to physically pummel each other.

Grant Hobbs receives cheers to win the fight. Sergio Gutierrez taunts the angry crowd wishing him to lose.

After an illegal kick to his head, absorbing two monstrous takedowns and multiple punches to his face, Gutierrez is a beaten man. The referee calls the fight in favor of Hobbs by second-round total knockout.

It’s over. The crowd cheers. Hobbs is back.

“Nine months went by. It just built up in anticipation for this night,” he said. “I had a great debut for Lifer MMA. I’m back on the right track. My injury that I was out with, did not even affect me one bit. I couldn’t ask for a better night, man.”

Gutierrez walks back to the Ute Mountain Casino training area receiving “boos” from the home fans in Towaoc. Gutierrez reciprocates criticism to the people in attendance at King of the Cage, Underground 73.

For Hobbs (8-2), his original scheduled opponent didn’t show up. Guiterrez, of Life Fit NHB MMA in Albuquerque, N.M., did.

“A lot of credit to the guy I just fought. He takes the fight on in a day’s notice,” said Hobbs about Gutierrez. “We’re actually friends outside of the cage. Nine months to wait just for this day. I’m glad it’s over with. Now, I can go have a good time with the guy that I just fought. This is a sport where it’s not just blood sport. We’re friends. We’re competitors.”

Hobbs looked anything like a fighter that had been laid off three-fourths of a year with a broken leg. He controlled his first 130-pound amateur fight with Cortez’ Lifer MMA. The Dove Creek native received “ohhh’s” from the crowd, administering various body blows with his hands and feet. Hobbs shook the Ute Mountain Casino with huge takedowns and controlled the fight on the ground, too. It was the 1:32 mark of Round 2 when the fight ended with Gutierrez facedown.

“Ken Soper, I said this one was for you buddy,” said Hobbs about dedicating his fight to the former Dove Creek High School football coach. “I got the ‘W.’ That’s the most important thing for me. Ken Soper is a legacy to me. I fought hungry for him. I’m victorious, just like he taught me.”

Lifer MMA trainer Kaan Clark had a game plan prepared for Hobbs, despite his fighter changing.

“He did everything that we worked on over the last two months. He just started training with us,” Clark said about Hobbs. “He listened to his corner. He did exactly what was asked of him. I’m proud of him.”

Hobbs has 10 amateur fights under his belt. He will decide whether or not to turn professional before his next bout.

Dominic Gurule fought at 170 pounds for Lifer MMA. He sought his first amateur win after suffering two frustrating losses by judges decision.

Gurule delighted the local fans early against Randy Yellowhair (Blackwater MMA), of Chinle, Ariz. Gurule scored a takedown to seize momentum in the first-round. Yellowhair reversed the hold before Gurule countered with his own reversal. The Cortez native then delivered body jabs, and two punches and a knee to Yellowhair’s face, as the crowd excitedly erupted. Yellowhair later gets a takedown, but Gurule reverses again; and, again, Yellowhair is dealt jabs and elbows to his head until the bell rings.

Gurule dominated Round 1 and appeared poised for that coveted first win.

Both fighters came out swinging in the second-round. Neither could land that knockout blow. So, Yellowhair went to the ground with a takedown. All of a sudden, Gurule was stuck. He couldn’t reverse his way out of the rear naked chokehold his was locked in. Gurule tapped out at the 1:14 mark of Round 2, giving Yellowhair the win.

It was another agonizing loss for Gurule (0-3). The end result was shocking, both emotionally and physically.

“I’m speechless. I don’t really know what to say,” he said.

Gurule was limited in the second-round with a separated left shoulder.

“Me in that first round, that’s me. That’s how I fight,” he said. “That’s how I intend to fight all my fights. (When) my left shoulder popped out, it was another one of those things. It’s one thing after another with me. A turn of events can happen that quick.”

Clark did not know of the injury, until after the fight.

“It’s heartbreaking to see Dom lose. He’s a tough competitor,” he said. “It’s hard to fight when you’re only fighting with one limb. I had no idea. But that’s how Dom is. He’s a tough guy, and tries to get out there and get it done.”

In other amateur action, Dove Creek native and former Cortez fighter Zach Larimore lost at 145 pounds. Now competing out of Eight Street MMA in Grand Junction, Larimore was no match for Jordan Willoughby (Gallup, N.M.). Larimore lost at the 2:33 mark of the first-round by guillotine choke.

The next King of the Cage fights at the Ute Mountain Casino are currently slated for Saturday, July 7.

PRO RESULTS: Sidiah Parker (Blanding, Utah) defeated Geronimo Gonzales (Sliver City, N.M.) at 185 pounds by second-round TKO.

AMATEUR RESULTS: Virgilio Pinto (Gallup) def. Richard Lopez (Albuquerque) at 165 by first-round TKO. Efren Castenada (Gallup) def. John Sudac (Silver City) at 170 by first-round TKO. Marcos Mendoza (Durango) def. Jake Korte (Thermopolis, Wyo.) at 170 by first-round rear naked choke. Aaron Butler (Blanding) def. Brice Boling (Durango) at 142 by second-round head and arm choke. Julia Kim (Albuquerque) def. Wilena Jim (Shiprock, N.M.) at 115 by first-round TKO. Kani Correa (Thermopolis) def. Richard Bicente (Albuquerque) at 170 by first-round TKO.

Reach Bobby Abplanalp at bobbya@cortezjournal.com.