Here’s blood in your eye

It was an exciting night of mixed martial arts, including a celebrity appearance from Ultimate Fighting Champion Chuck Liddell. Eleven bouts would take place in the large white tent as the Palace Indian Gaming Center’s capacity crowd of more than 2,000 fight fans cheered and booed. The three-and-a-half-hour drive to Lemoore last Friday was well worth it to show support for the two Sacramento fighters participating in WEC (World Extreme Cagefighting) 19.

First, Sacramento’s James “Sandman” Irvin battled Lodune “Vanilla Gorilla” Sincaid. Irvin was the superior fighter on his feet, but Sincaid succeeded at keeping the fight on the ground, where he dominated in spite of some impressive submission attempts by Irvin. In the third and final round, as Sincaid was foiled and punished through several takedown attempts, Irvin simply refused to go down. Irvin was looking good—but with two rounds lost, it was too late to win by decision. He threw high kicks hoping to score a knockout. At least one connected well with Sincaid’s head, but a later kick cost Irvin his balance and put the fight once again on the ground. In the end, Sincaid took the fight by decision. Sacramento wasn’t victorious, but we made a good showing. Irvin is a fighter to be proud of, particularly for the shrewd strategic adjustments he was able to make between rounds.

We got another shot at glory as Sacramentan and King of the Cage belt-holder Urijah “California Kid” Faber was here at WEC to claim the featherweight belt. Of course, his opponent, Cole “Apache Kid” Escovedo, would not relinquish it easily.

Faber dominated the fight early, taking things to the ground with a knockdown punch. There he continued delivering fists and elbows, without taking much return fire. This changed when he decided to try a submission hold, latching on to Escovedo’s heel and going for a hook. As Faber put both hands into the heel hook, he took punch after punch to the face and head, swelling and bleeding below his right eye. He must have felt confident in his submission skills as he took the punishment and continued maneuvering for a first-round win. But it wasn’t to be. Faber let it go, and, although clearly exhausted from the effort, he resumed his dominance of the fight. Things got especially bloody as Escovedo’s forehead opened up. Forehead wounds, while not especially serious, can bleed heavily, and blood in the eyes can end a fight. Escovedo held on through all three rounds, but he wasn’t ever able to stay out from under Faber, who pressed down on him—rising to deliver more elbows whenever the opportunity presented itself.

The bell rang, the fight was over, and Faber and his fans had no doubt the belt was his. As the judges delivered a unanimous decision, cries of “Sacto! Sacto!” filled the tent.