Cooper Retains Welterweight World Title with Knockout
By Kyle Galdeira
@kylegaldeira –Photos available at www.HawaiiMediaSource.com
Ray “Braddah” Cooper III has been a mainstay in the local mixed martial arts scene, and he hopes to raise his profile to the next level. After Saturday night’s impressive performance, he may be in line to do just that.
Cooper kept his Welterweight (170 lbs.) World Title with a convincing knockout victory over Charles “Felony” Bennett in the main event of the X-1 World Events MMA #48 at the Neal Blaisdell Arena. The fight, which was held before a crowd that nearly filled the arena’s lower bowl, was also broadcast live via pay-per-view.
Cooper was fired up early behind the support of the hometown crowd, and body-slammed his foe 20 seconds into the match. On the ground, Cooper controlled the action before sliding into an attempt at a guillotine choke.
Bennett countered, though, and delivered a series of low-impact punches to Cooper’s head and body. After the two returned to their feet, Cooper took Bennett down again, but another choke attempt was thwarted.
Cooper came out swinging to begin the second frame, and delivered a series of power punches to knock Bennett to the ground. Cooper locked in his third attempt at a choke-hold submission, but the stubborn Bennett remained calm as he looked for a way out.
Cooper delivered punch after punch, but Bennett rolled out and the two returned to the standing position until Cooper delivered the knockout blow: a knee-buckling left hook that dropped Bennett, and led to the fight being stopped 2 minutes and 48 seconds into the second round.
“Thank you (Bennett) for coming out and challenging me,” Cooper said. “This belt is staying here until I get to the UFC. When I get there, you guys (currently fighting in the UFC) are going down, that’s my belt.”
“I don’t remember what happened,” said Bennett, perhaps only half joking, who normally fights at 145 pounds. “I love you all, Hawai’i.”
CO-MAIN EVENT: Sale Sproat def. Rafael Brewster via KO at 50 seconds into first round, for Middleweight (185 lbs.) World Title (3X5 min. rounds)
Sproat made quick work of Brewster, using a punch to the left side of his foe’s head to halt the hitman early. After hitting the canvas, Brewster could not fight back, and the fight was stopped just 50 seconds after it started, much to the delight of the local fans who were supporting Sproat, a cowboy and rancher from Moloka‘i.
“Thank you everybody who supported me, you know who you are,” Sproat said.
Russell “The Muscle” Mizuguchi def. Michael “Smash Boy“ Nakagawa via split decision, for State Flyweight (125 lbs.) Title (3×5 min. rounds)
Nakagawa was joined in his corner by UFC Featherweight Champion Max Holloway, and gained momentum early against a slower Mizuguchi. Nakagawa’s strikes cut Mizuguchi on the forehead and cheek, and he eventually took his opponent to the ground, and the round ended with fighters locked up on the canvas.
Mizuguchi took Nakagawa to the ground midway through the second round, and delivered a few punches and elbows to his foe’s head as he controlled the action. The remainder of the round was spent on the canvas with very little going on – the bell put a welcomed end to the stalemate.
The third round featured much more action as the fighters traded blows in the center of the ring. Mizuguchi caused a large welt under Nakagawa’s right eye. The two grappled on the canvas after Mizuguchi scored another takedown, and pinned his foe against the chain-link cage. Nakagawa escaped and attacked his tired opponent, delivering a series of punches before the final bell sounded. After going to the scorecards, the crowd appreciated both fighters’ efforts after the split decision was announced.
“I came in as the underdog…Dana White, give me a call!” said Mizuguchi.
Bill Takeuchi def. Justin Hugo via TKO (referee stoppage) at 3:53 in third round, for Bantamweight (135 lbs.) World Title (3X5 min. rounds)
The combatants felt each other out over the first two minutes, and just moments after Takeuchi caused a cut on Hugo’s nose, the fight was halted as Hugo took a low blow via Takeuchi’s whip kick. Once the action resumed, Takeuchi controlled the pace and pinned Hugo against the cage before delivering a series of punches and knees to Hugo’s head, which combined to open a large gash on the opponent’s forehead.
With blood continuing to stream down his face, Hugo attempted to salvage any hopes of victory, but Takeuchi’s counters proved too effective. After opening a second cut over Hugo’s right eye, Takeuchi dropped his foe with a devastating punch and pummeled Hugo with relentless hammer punches. But, Hugo worked back to his feet, let out a yell and challenged Takeuchi to bring it. Takeuchi did just that, using a series of punches and elbows to open another large cut on Hugo’s face as blood streamed uncontrollably until the second round closed mercifully.
To his credit, Hugo returned for the final round and did his best to gain positive momentum. Takeuchi was ready, though, and fended off early attacks while conserving energy. After another knockdown blow delivered by Takeuchi, Hugo beckoned his opponent to come back with more and was promptly pummeled with another barrage of punches until the referee finally put an end to things 3 minutes and 53 seconds into the stanza.
Rudolph Schafforth def. Tipo Lafaele via head-and-arm choke 3:02 into first round, super heavyweight (3X5 min. rounds)
Two large humans squared off in this bout featuring two 260-plus pounders, which excited the crowd as the lumbering fighters traded destructive blows. Two minutes into the opening round, Schafforth connected with a vicious right-handed uppercut that dropped Lafaele. Schafforth then gained control of the local fighter and secured the submission via head-and-arm choke three minutes into the first round.
“I know he’s a tough brawler, so I just tried to keep my chin down,” said Schafforth.
Juan Gonzalez def. Kaeo Meyer via unanimous decision, lightweight (155 lbs.) professional bout (3X5 min. rounds)
In a shocking decision to start the Main Card, Meyer fell via unanimous decision despite controlling the action throughout the fight. Meyer took control early with multiple strikes to the head, then braved a few big counters from Gonzalez. Meyer’s wicked right hook left a large cut under Gonzalez’ right eye as blood streamed down the foe’s face. Gonzalez did not give in, though, and ran the local fighter into the cage as the fighters flopped to the canvas. Meyer countered, though, and gained position to land a handful of overhand punches to end the first round.
Meyer got caught with a few solid punches to lead off the second frame, and suffered a bloody lower lip as a result. The action was halted briefly due to a low blow delivered by Gonzalez, who was issued an initial warning for the infraction. Meyer then opened a second cut on Gonzalez’ face, this one over his left eye. After absorbing a wicked kick to the chin, Meyer regained control and delivered multiple right hooks to Gonzalez’ head before the two opponents traded a flurry of blows as the round ended.
The final round featured more back-and-forth action as Gonzalez went for the knockout blow via haymaker punches and a roundhouse kick attempt. Mayer was stunned a few times after being smacked in the chin, but kept his feet and countered his opponent effectively. Meyer kept his distance, presumably believing he had the fight in had as long as he could avoid being knocked out, which he accomplished as he further bloodied Gonzalez’ face.
Davy Malaythong submitted Daylan Cummings in a 170-pound bout just 15 seconds into the final preliminary fight. A corner attendant said Cummings tapped out after suffering a separated shoulder.
In the night’s first preliminary bout, Cyro Edayan defeated Julio Moreno via unanimous decision in a 145-pound fight. Edayan used a combination of strikes to wear down his opponent and fended off a last-minute submission attempt
X-1 World Events has helped launch the mixed martial arts careers of multiple elite-level fighters including the UFC’s current Featherweight Champion Max Holloway as well as former UFC champion Dan “The Beast” Severn.
Weigh In Friday Aug 11 @ 4pm at the Blaisdell Arena
Michael Nakagawa vs Russell Mizuguchi