By Elias Cepeda
Coach Dominick Cruz and his coaches are giddy on how good they think James Vick will be. At one point they are off in a corner of the gym almost snickering at how no one but them knows how good the lanky young fighter is.
“He’s making it to the finals,” Cruz says.
Cruz says that Vick listens well and is an open book.
Dana White comes in and for some reason is the one to make the announcement that Cruz has torn his ACL and is out of the fight with Faber, though he will stay on as coach. We all knew at this point that Cruz had injured himself this week, but I guess I expected that this week’s episode would have footage and put a little more drama into it.
It is just as well because we need all the time we can get for tonight’s two matchups of Cruz’ James Vick vs. Joe Proctor and Justin Lawrence vs. Faber’s Mike Chiesa.
Proctor vs. Vick
Vick backs up Proctor with jab and left kick feints for a minute then lands a one-two-three to the body combo. More feints and pawing jabs from Vick as he stalks Proctor.
At just under a minute, Proctor shoots in for a double leg takedown but gets stuffed by Vick. Proctor lands a clean over hand right to Vick’s chin.
Vick forces a Thai plum and lands knees to the body and his own overhand right. Vick lands an uppercut, Proctor lands a cross, hook combo. Vick responds with his own cross that lands. Proctor fires back, lands and Vick hits back with a head kick that is mostly blocked.
Vick lands a right cross from a distance, using his reach. Proctor comes in closer, throws a body kick but is countered with a left hook. Another uppercut from Vick lands. Proctor lands a straight cross, Vick swings and misses with a head kick.
Vick keeping Proctor at the end of his long arms with feints. And a left body kick and left jab.
Proctor shoots in and gets a big slam but Vick stands right back up. Proctor grabs hold of Vick’s next from the side with a rear-naked choke type grip, Vick defends and gets a single leg takedown – landing in side mount.
Vick looks indecisive and uncomfortable from the side mount and stands up, letting Proctor go. Proctor lands a nice right hand to the face. Vick lands an uppercut to the head and two knees to the body.
Proctor counters an uppercut from Vick with a straight cross with thirty seconds left. Proctor finally making Vick pay for keeping his hands so low and lands two more right crosses.
Vick wins both rounds on all judges’ scorecards. “I feel like everything is coming together for me at the right time.”
Chiesa vs. Lawrence
Lots of feints and then the young Lawrence begins making mistakes. First, he throws a head kick with no set up at the wrestler Chiesa, who uses that to slam him onto the ground. Lawrence snaps back up to his feet where he is pressed up against the cage by Chiesa.
From there, Lawrence turns and gives up his back while trying to escape, gets taken down with Chiesa on his back. Lawrence successfully turns into Chiesa and puts him on his back, in full guard.
Chiesa shoots his hips up for an armbar attempt. Lawrence stands and defends. Chiesa slaps on a triangle attempt and again Lawrence defends. He is in Chiesa’s half guard now, raining punches down.
Chiesa recomposes to the full guard and locks it up high. From the full guard Chiesa throws non-stop combinations of sweep, keylock and guillotine attempts at Lawrence, who defends. Lawrence backs Chiesa up on the fence but Chiesa manages to throw another triangle attempt on with under one minute left. Chiesa throws elbows to Lawrence’s head from the triangle position until the horn sounds.
Lawrence comes out with a body kick and almost gets taken down again for it. Coach Cruz immediately begins yelling out that he should use “boxing only” on his feet to avoid making Chiesa’s job of taking him down easier.
Lawrence doesn’t and immediately throws a head kick. Now Lawrence is swinging with his fists – he lands a big overhand right and then a left hook that stuns Chiesa. Lawrence lands another left hook but follows up with a body kick that Chiesa grabs and nearly takes him down with again.
Lawrence frees himself up and Cruz yells out that he throw no more kicks. Lawrence lands another big overhand right, followed by a left hook-overhand right combo to the head of Chiesa.
Chiesa throws a double jab, Lawrence backs straight up, and the second jab lands. Chiesa throws a spinning reverse elbow but Lawrence closes the distance, jams him up and the elbow doesn’t land. Chiesa throws and lands a flying knee to the head of Lawrence.
Lawrence is finding his range now, mixing up head and body punches in combos. One body shot lands flush and drops Chiesa to the mat, face first!
Lawrence follows up and throws punches at the turtled-up Chiesa. Lawrence then chooses to grab the torso of the downed Chiesa, giving Mike a chance to go for a submission.
Chiesa grabs ahold of Lawrence’s left arm and torques a keylock. Lawrence stands and defends. Lawrence back in Chiesa’s full guard. Chiesa lands elbows, Lawrence stands with five seconds left and throws punches. The horn sounds.
Dana White is in the cage, announces that we are going to a sudden death victory round three!
Chiesa throws a knee, Lawrence grabs it and slams him to the mat. Lawrence is in Chiesa’s full guard. Chiesa sits up and sweeps Lawrence over.
Chiesa is in mount and begins raining down punches on Lawrence. Lawrence covers up but makes no attempt to escape and most of Chiesa’s punches get through.
The referee stops the bout one minute into the third round. The gym erupts in cheers and hooting from Team Faber.
Chiesa tells Jon Anik that this was the toughest fight of his career.
Match up time:
Vinc Pichel vs. Chris Saunders
Al Iaquinta vs. Andy Ogle