by Matt Lo Cascio
HFC 33 saw three fighters claim pro titles, and I hope you were there because that might have been the last chance to see all three fight locally before they hit the big shows. Mike Santiago, Larry DiGiulio, and Chepe Mariscal all earned belts in what was a phenomenal event Saturday night at The Venue at Horseshoe Casino in Hammond.
Mariscal put on a performance for the ages in his HFC featherweight title fight against Jackson MMA’s Brady Hovermale, one that had the crowd going wild. Several cage side officials, referees, and media proclaimed it was one of the best fights they’d ever seen. Mariscal let loose every weapon in his arsenal against Hovermale, whose body finally gave in during round four. Mariscal landed a huge elbow at the beginning of that round that made Hovermale spit out blood, but somehow he continued. The fight got back to the feet and Mariscal landed a head kick that dropped Hovermale. He quickly pounced on him and unleashed a barrage of strikes that made referee Rob Hinds step in to end it. Hovermale lost the fight but you’d be hard-pressed to convince me he’s not a champion. His face was battered, bloodied, and bruised and yet he simply would not quit. I don’t know what was more remarkable from this war: Mariscal’s dynamic striking and skill or Hovermale’s will. Hovermale continually spit out large globs of blood throughout the fight and Mariscal put a tremendous beating on him. All fighters are tough, but Hovermale took it to a new level as he endured strike after strike from Mariscal, the longtime Combat-Do fighter now representing Elevation Team. The sky is the limit for “Chepe.”
Mike Santiago had a quick night in the cage. He came out looking incredibly relaxed against Nicholas Wayne as the two battled for the HFC lightweight title. He landed a takedown just thirty seconds into the fight and smoothly slid into mount. From there he dropped some loud, vicious elbows that connected as Wayne’s head was pinned to the canvas. It only took a few of those nasty elbows to propel referee Rob Hinds in between the fighters to wave it off. Santiago is now a two-division champion with HFC, having previously won their featherweight title.Gilbert Grappling’s Larry DiGiulio came out striking right away against opponent Mark Sainci in the HFC flyweight title fight, first going upstairs and then to the body. Sainci responded by pushing DiGiulio up against the cage, but he left his neck out and DiGiulio latched onto it and caught a guillotine choke. He quickly pulled guard and Sainci’s tap came soon after.
Gilbert Grappling took home two belts on Saturday, with Devin Laseter earning the HFC amateur middleweight title in a close split decision win. Laseter drew blood early with a powerful 1-2 combination. Then it was Mota’s turn as he caught him with a right hand that dropped him. Laseter displayed excellent movement, but it came at a price as he seemed to gas a bit near the end of round one. Mota scored a big takedown early round two, then landed another overhand right, but Laseter ate it. Mota took some shots from Laseter in round three then countered beautifully with a double leg and mounted Laseter, but he was able to escape. Laseter kept working the jab and Mota was leaking blood from his nose. It was what a title fight should be, and seemingly a very tough fight to judge.
HFC Featherweight Title
Chepe Mariscal (Team Elevation) def. Brady Hovermale (Jackson’s MMA) – TKO – Strikes, round 4
HFC Flyweight Title
Lawrence DiGiulio (Gilbert Grappling) def. Mark Sainci Sub – Guillotine, :33 Round 1
HFC Lightweight Title
Mike Santiago (Team Top Notch) def. Nicholas Wayne TKO – Strikes, 2:07 Round 1
HFC 33 Pro Card
(180) Darrius Flowers (Chicago Fight Team) vs. Michael Robinson Jr. (Alexander MMA) – Majority Draw 29-27, 28-28 x2
(155) Reggie Merriweather def. Caleb Williams (American Top Team) via Split Decision
(155) Aaron Smith (Midwest Martial Arts) def. Sinatra Pool (Second City MMA) via Unanimous Decision
(135) Said Kakhramonov (Team Top Notch) def. Bryan Ortiz (MTC/Team 110) KO, 4:10 Round 1
HFC Amateur Middleweight Championship
(185) Devin Laseter (Gilbert Grappling) def. Gabriel Mota (C) (Maxim Gym/Carlson Gracie) via Split Decision
HFC 33 Amateur Card
(125) Konner Chafin def. Jonathon Appelman (Team Colon) – Unanimous Decision
(135) Rico Robinson (Alexander MMA) def. Mike Escoe (Hybrid) – Sub – Armbar, 2:21 Round 1
(173) John Popi (Midwest Martial Arts) def. Roman Papuc (New Breed) – TKO – Strikes, 1:45 Round 1
(125) Payton Brezinski (Team Colon) def. Joel Casales (Second City MMA) – Unanimous Decision