by Matt Lo Cascio
The Prince is back. Angelo Rivera Jr. returned to the cage last night at Fight Card Ruthless 2017 and it seemed just like old times. The longtime Combat-Do fighter now also trains with Herc Hayes and Second City MMA, and he had little trouble with Out of Body Fitness/Team Torres MMA fighter Sam Gustafson.
Rivera executed solid takedown defense early in the fight and used it to deliver some well-placed knees to Gustafson’s body. Rivera was taken down once but it actually worked to his advantage as he fell right into full mount, then ripped off a fight-winning armbar. Not bad for a guy who’s been out of the game for three years and had to drop 36 pounds over six weeks to make weight. So what does it feel like to be back in the cage after such a long layoff?
“It felt great to finally be back in front of my home crowd after being away from the MMA world for over three years,” Rivera told Chicago’s MMA. “Honestly mixed emotions were rushing through my body, it felt like I wanted to break down in tears of joy but I knew I had to keep my composure. So I was doing my best to remain calm because I was super excited and amped to get this fight going. As soon as the bell rang it was on — I knew from the very first punch I had the fight. I believe I landed the first punch that was a straight jab to the face and right then and there I knew I won the fight.”
He did indeed win the fight, something he hadn’t done since just before Christmas back in 2013. Getting the victory was nothing new for Rivera, but this time it certainly was different.
“I’ve been there time and time again with getting my hand raised but this time it felt different. Like I felt everything that happened Thursday night was déjà vu. I saw it happen and to have all the hard work pay off was a relief.”
Rivera has no plans for such a prolonged break this time around. In fact, he told me last night he plans to fight as much as possible this year then has tentative plans to turn pro in 2018. There’s little doubt Rivera was the best amateur welterweight in Chicago when he stepped away from the game. Not many will be surprised if he reclaims that title sooner rather than later.
In other Fight Card Ruthless action, Alan Baum and Aaron Taylor had a fun back and forth in the first round of their lightweight title fight and both fighters featured outstanding movement. Baum connected on a few more power shots in the round, then continued with that in round two when he landed a fierce combination and took Taylor down. He then secured a guillotine that made Taylor tap at 2:05 of round two. Baum possibly set a record for most profanities in a post-fight speech, but he wanted to clearly get across his thankfulness for his team and coach Steve Colon, as well as his father.
Second City MMA’s Angelo Walsh looked as good as ever in an exciting win over Hybrid Martial Arts/Team No Comment fighter Jose Lazo. Walsh spent most of round one in top position, then took the fight to the ground again in round two where he was able to catch an armbar that made Lazo tap.
Slayer’s MMA fighter Eugene Anthony put on a show that included a dazzling array of kicks that made the crowd get loud, then took Kevin Stearns Jr. down and finished him with an arm triangle. Anthony thanked Stearns for taking the fight on very short notice and also received an award from promoters Brian Angelo and Nilo Soto for his time as a Fight Card fighter.
Hybrid Martial Arts/Team No Comment’s Chris Carter had all kinds of kicks for opponent James Montez, and he repeatedly landed them to both the head and body. Carter broke out a karate stance in round two that got a big roar from the crowd, then landed another head kick that dropped Montez. He finished him off with strikes early in round two and put on an exciting show for the fans.
Second City MMA’s Alex Torres brought the heat to the fighter simply known as Von, who seemed more interested in talking and gesturing than throwing hands. Von actually worked a nice jab at times and had a clear reach advantage, but Torres let Von do most of the talking while he was double-legging him time and again. Torres earned a unanimous decision from the judges.
Fight Card Lightweight Title
(155) Alan Baum (Team Colon) def. Aaron Taylor (Victory Martial Arts), Sub – Armbar, round 2
Fight Card Ruthless 2017 Results
(170) Angelo Rivera (Second City MMA) Sam Gustafson (Out of Body Fitness/Team Torres MMA) Sub – Armbar round 1
(170) Gerald Criscione (UFC Gym Lombard) def. Trace Ferguson (UFC Gym Oak Lawn) TKO/Strikes 2:37 round 2
(145) Eugene Anthony (Slayer’s MMA Academy) def. Kevin Stearns Jr. Sub – Arm Triangle, 1:48 round 1
(155) Diordje Mrkajic (UFC Gym Lombard) def. Tony Velentzas :16 round 1
(135) Angelo Walsh (Second City MMA) def. Jose Lazo (Hybrid Martial Arts/Team No Comment) Sub – Armbar, round 2
(145) Rhea Bradley (UFC Gym Orland Park) def. Jess Bowman (UFC Gym Lombard) Tap/Verbal Submission 2:29 round 1
(160) Alex Torres (Second City MMA) def. Von Li (Hybrid Martial Arts) via UD
(155 – Muay Thai) Kyle Munsayac (Fusion Fitness MMA) def. Roman Sida (Team Ramrod) TKO/Strikes 1:29, round 2
(130) Nicole Henderson (UFC Gym Oak Lawn) def. Ashlie Swanson (UFC Gym Lombard) TKO/Strikes, 1:24 round 1
(160) Chris Carter (Hybrid Martial Arts/Team No Comment) def. James Montez TKO/Strikes, :42 round 2
(130) Daniel Rico (Victory Martial Arts) def. Aldrin Lobrin (Second City MMA) via UD
(145) Emanuel Pugh (Team Colon) def. Chris Sanchez (MMA Stop) via UD
(130) Jacobo Prieto (Second City MMA) def. Dante Deberry (Out of Body Fitness/Team Torres MMA) Sub – RNC, 1:52, round 2.