Associate Sports Editor
Two Leopards were victorious in the octagon in amateur mixed martial arts bouts in “Mayhem in El Monte 5” at Florentine Gardens in El Monte last Friday.
Grant Woods, assistant strength and conditioning coach, and Grady Thomas, senior public affairs major, each won via the judges’ scorecards in their respective bouts. Both fighters improved their overall records to 2-0.
“I feel relieved now that it’s over; it’s nerve-racking,” Woods said.
“I’m very happy. I’m thankful it was a good fight. I could’ve done better and there’s areas I need to improve in,” Thomas said. “Even though I won by split decision, I learned a lot.”
Each fight was different from the other, as each fighter prefers a different style of fighting. Woods prefers Muay-Thai whereas Thomas prefers Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
“I’m not that good on the ground so I like to stay standing unless I have to be on the ground,” Woods said.
“Yes. Grady is phenomenal on the ground. In this sport you do what’s comfortable,” Thomas’ trainer, Aaron Miller, said.
Woods, who wore blue with black trunks with white trim, training out of Millennia in Rancho Cucamonga by way of Ontario, fought in the lightweight division, weighing in at 153.5 pounds against his opponent, Randy “The Pitbull” Romero of Destiny MMA by way of Whittier.
From the beginning of the fight, it quickly became obvious that it would be difficult for Romero to get a hand on Woods.
Woods landed quick jabs and kicks while dodging close to everything from Romero.
“I’m assistant strength and conditioning coach so I thought I’d have more conditioning thanks to Coach Durant and my training partners, they hit harder than me so I have to protect myself,” Woods said.
At the end of the first round, Romero suffered from a bloody nose whereas Woods was spotless.
The final two rounds were even more brutal for Romero, as Woods constantly caught him off guard with more jabs and kicks to the face, but the fight would not be decided in the octagon.
The judges scored the bout: 30-26.5, 30-27 and 30-27.
“I feel good, first of all because I won and second of all because I didn’t take much punishment; my legs are a little sore,” Woods said. “Yeah I’m satisfied. I wish I pushed harder in the third round, maybe some kicks, and got a finish.”
Next was Thomas, adorned in red with white shorts with black trim fighting out of Blood Bank MMA in Hacienda Heights, weighing in at 152 pounds, faced Adrian Gomez of Subfighter in Laguna Niguel by way of Huntington Beach in the lightweight division.
From the opening bell, Thomas came out swinging and added a quick two-legged takedown, resulting in the two spending the first round on the ground.
The second round began the same way, but this time Thomas managed to pick up Gomez and bring him to the floor after being in a headlock for a period of time.
In the final round, Thomas instead took a slower approach and after being separated by the official for resting for no movement for a dominant position, Thomas again lifted Gomez into the air and slammed him to the floor.
After three rounds of battle and no decision made by the fighters in the octagon, the decision went to the judges’ scorecard.
The judges came to a split decision of: 30-28 Thomas, 29.5-28.5 Gomez and 29.5-29 Thomas.
“After the fight I was very confident, I thought I won by unanimous decision,” Thomas said.
“He’s going to become more comfortable and he’s going to find himself within himself,” Miller said. “I’m very proud of him.”
Thomas says that he plans on fighting at the end of the semester or early in the summer.
Woods does not know when he will next fight.
Daniel Hargis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org