Regional MMA was on display yesterday (May 2) in the "South Plains" of West Texas when "Shark Fights 4," the fourth installment from the upstart organization based out of Amarillo, Texas, came together inside Lubbock’s Citibank Coliseum.
The event did not disappoint as the crowd got to witness eight of the nine fights end by T(KO) or submission.
In the main event, Lubbock's own Rex Richards and Darill Schoonover fought a frenetic back-and-forth fight with action taking place on the feet and on the ground. Richards attempted numerous submissions and landed some solid shots, but he couldn't put away the scrappy Schoonover who ran his MMA record to a perfect 14-0.
In the fourth round Schoonover found the opening he needed, landing a clean combination. The punches dropped a visibly tired Richards and Schoonover promptly followed his opponent to the ground where he finished the fight with some good ol' ground and pound.
"That was a hell of a fight," Shoonover said in his post fight interview. "He was yelling at me, trying to intimidate me. So I yelled right back and said 'lets do this.' I feel like I won the first and second round, but in the third round he started kickin' my butt. I really wanted to finish this fight and I knew he was tired. In the fourth round I caught him with the hook and then the right. He went down, I got on top of him and went crazy from there looking to finish the fight. I am the champion and this means a lot to me."
In the co-main event, Jesse Taylor wasted little time finishing off crowd favorite Eric Davilla. Taylor put on a textbook performance, forcing Davilla to give up his back within the first minute. Davilla made Taylor wait another minute before the inevitable rear naked choke was applied.
Taylor looked to be in phenomenal shape and one has to think he's just a fight or two away from getting called up by Strikeforce or back to the UFC.
"I was actually surprised how fast I finished this fight. I threw the pressure on him right away and I don't think he was ready for me to take him down," said Taylor. "Textbook was the perfect way to describe the performance for me. I am just going to keep plugging away and I would love to fight for Strikeforce or the UFC when they have me. I would love to come back to Texas (even though they were hating on me) and fight for a Middleweight belt when they create one. Their belts are as good as the ones in the UFC."
In the fight that sent the crowd into a frenzy, Don Frye and Rich Moss engaged in a classic staredown. Moss got in Frye's face, something Frye didn't take too kindly to. The referee had to step in and make sure these two waited for the bell to sound.
The fight started out with the two pressed up against the cage. An accidental low blow by Moss sent Frye to his knees before action resumed.
The fight went back against the cage and then in a sudden burst of textbook judo, Rich Moss applied a perfect throw only to have Frye ready and waiting. Moss's judo throw was countered perfectly, with Frye transitioning into a gift wrapped rear naked choke. After the fight was stopped, Moss and Frye exchanged more words only to have them hugging it out after Frye's hand was raised in victory.
When asked about the pre-fight machismo by Moss, Frye said, "Some jackass in Japan started that crap with me about 5 years ago and ever since then, everyone feels the need to put their nose against my nose. I am getting pretty tired of it and I might have to start punching people when it happens. As far as Moss, he is a great judo practitioner so I am going to be a man and fight him in a straight judo match next. I will put my pajamas on and meet him in a tournament somewhere."
In regards to his MMA future, Don said he would like to go back to Japan and fight for his fans over there. He quipped that he liked the look of the Shark Fights belt and may have to take it away from the young Schoonever.
"I would love to come back to West Texas and fight again," he continued. "The crowed showed me a lot of enthusiasm which was great to see. My energy was sky high."
In the other two main event fights, Cardella and Wallburger put on performances that made MMA look easy. They both secured submissions over their respective opponents with relative ease. Their futures look bright, with Wallburger winning Shark Fights Welterweight title.
In jest, an enthusiastic Wallburger called out UFC Welterweight champion George St. Pierre. For Cardella, he informed us a return trip to the WEC lightweight division is likely in August of 2009. He went on to say he would love to continue to fight for Shark Fights and compete for a lightweight title once one is created.
Overall the event was a success for Shark Fights. Given that it is the upstart organization's fourth event, the future looks bright.
Special guest appearences by WEC feathweright Leonard Garcia, WEC Lightweight Donalde Cerrone, UFC lightweight Joe "Daddy" Stevenson, Strikeforce Welterweight Joe Riggs and Affliction Heavyweight Paul Buentello went over very well with the crowd.
Paul Buentello, who hails from Amarillo, told the crowd he planned on competing on a future Shark Fights card. Perhaps a heavyweight match between Don Frye and Paul Buentello would be something the fans could get excited about.
While a success, the night was not perfect for Shark Fights.
The event fell victim to technology problems with the Internet connection being spotty throughout. This caused issues for the PPV show which was streaming live on the Shark Fights website.
While the problem does not fall squarely on the shoulders of Shark Fights (more on the Internet provider), it is still something Shark Fights will take responsibility for with the fans who purchased the event.
Here are the official Results for Shark Fights 4:
Darill Schoonover defeated Rex Richards via TKO in Round Four
Jesse Taylor defeated Eric Davilla via rear naked choke in Round One
Don Frye defeated Rich Moss via rear naked choke in Round One
Phil Cardella defeated Johnny Flores via armbar in Round One
TJ Wallburter defeated Shannon Ritch via armbar in Round One
Rolando Scott defeated Zach Haney via TKO in Round One
Douglas Frey defeated Louis Luna via KO in Round One
Jessica Miramontes defeated Brandi Hainey via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Josh Shephard defeated Aaron Garcia via TKO in Round One