by Matt Lo Cascio
You can always come home. Manny Vazquez (10-2) returned to the Chicago scene and wrapped up a whirlwind of a year with a thrilling victory in the main event of XFO 59 Friday night at the UIC Forum. Vazquez asserted his dominance quickly over Chris Haney, choking out the veteran fighter at 2:54 of the first round. It was Vazquez’s sixth career win by submission, and he was happy to be back home and finish 2016 off strong.
“It’s been a crazy year for me with a lot of highs and lows,” Vazquez told Chicago’s MMA. “Getting a win back at home was much needed and exactly what I needed to start the new year off on the right foot. I plan on making my way down to 125 and staying very active in 2017. I have a goal to make it into one of the major promotions by the end of the year, and a win or two at flyweight should put me where I need to be.”
Team Curran’s Joey Diehl is the XFO flyweight champion, a title he won at XFO 58. How does a Diehl vs. Vazquez matchup sound? “I’m all for that. That would be a great fight and Joey’s tough,” Vazquez said.
Luke Cherep moved to 2-0 with another submission win, choking out Lloyd Thornton just :45 into round one. Cherep is on an amazing run. He has never lost as a pro or amateur, and he has finished each and every fight.
“My fight on Friday went exactly as I had game planned with my coaches — put my opponent in a position where I will dominate,” Cherep said. “I have remained focused and stuck to my strengths in my fights and that is why I have finished 100% of my opponents.”
Cherep already has some specific plans for the new year. “In 2017, I will continue to improve my professional record, seek out more main event fights, and hold a professional title belt.”
XFO amateur heavyweight champion Eli Strong defended his title with a second-round TKO win over Jason Belyew. Both fighters landed hard shots in round one, but a left hook from Strong in round two caused Belyew to lose vision in his right eye. Belyew asked referee Rob Madrigal for time, but since it was a legal strike Madrigal had no choice but to call the fight. Both fighters tell Chicago’s MMA a rematch is in the works.
XFO 59 Results
(185) Roman Papuc (New Breed) def. Ed DeMeyer Sub – Face Smash/RNC, 2:22 Rd. 1
(Hvy) Eli Strong (Pure Combat) def. Jason Belyew (Striking Arts), TKO, 1:42, Rd. 2 (Amateur Heavyweight Title)
(155) Brian Akins (MTC) def. Anthony Lorenzo (Team Top Notch) UD
Maximillian Fuentes (Team Top Notch) def. James Esposito TKO-Strikes, 2:49 Rd. 1
Vlad Koma (Bonsai Jiu Jitsu) def. Matt Murphy (Academy of Courage) – UD
(Super Hvy.)Phil Garreau def. David Hammons TKO-Strikes 1:05, RD. 1
(135) Luke Cherep def. Lloyd Thornton, Sub – RNC :45 Rd. 1
(170) Sultan Umar (MTC) def. Quartus Stitt UD
(135) Manny Vazquez (MTC/Team 110) Chris Haney, Sub – RNC, 2:54 Rd. 1