By Stuart Rodger

Combate Americas: Empire Rising was a special show to both the organisation itself and the Professional MMA world as a whole.

On a week when UFC co-creator and Combate Americas CEO Campbell McLarendeclared “Combate Americas is the second best MMA organisation in the world,” they would stage the first Professional MMA title fight in the state of New York at Turning Stone Resort and Casino.

In the main event, John Castaneda defeated Gustavo Lopez by fourth round TKO however due to missing weight for the fight, he was unable to be crowned the inaugural Combate Americas’ Bantamweight champion.

Lopez won the first two rounds, dropping Castaneda with a big right hand at the end of the first, and continuing his dominance throughout the second. The fight changed in the third round as Lopez was deducted a point for a second unintentional low blow. This seemed to take the wind out of his sails as he quickly fatigued and ended the round on the back foot.

A reinvigorated Castaneda came out for the fourth round like a man possessed and marched down Lopez ;who was now bloodied from the onslaught, at the end of round three. “Sexi Mexi” committed an accidental eye poke which wasn’t spotted by the ref before teeing off on Lopez and dropping him with a hard right.

Lopez could not fight off the top pressure of Castaneda who continued to land blows until the referee stopped the fight at 2:24 of round four. The belt now stays vacant due to Castaneda being illegible after the missed weight cut.

The co-main event in the Light-Heavyweight division pitted the familiar face of UFC veteran Matt Hamill against top prospect Julian Marquez. The 40-year-old ‘Ultimate Fighter 3‘ alumni was appearing in front of his adopted hometown fans for the first time and it was a cagey star to the first round with both men feeling each other out.

Hamill left his chin exposed and was caught with a hard right by Marquez who finished the fight by landing more shots on a grounded Hamill, getting the victory at 1:22 of round one by TKO.

The crowd fell silent as “The Hammer” appeared emotionally disappointed, quickly leaving the cage as Marquez paid tribute to him in his post-fight speech declaring him to be “a great guy and tough fighter.”

Marc Stevens and Victor Reyna had an absolute snore fest in their three roundWelterweight bout which they spent the majority of in clinch against the fence.

Stevens was determined to use his superior wrestling against natural striker Reyna who had clearly done his homework and worked well to defend the majority of takedown attempts. This often led to a boring stalemate and Stevens did just enough by keeping busier and completing two takedowns however Reyna popped straight back up from both.

Meanwhile, the wild rematch between Bantamweight contenders Jose Ceja and Irwin Rivera evened the series between the two men to 1-1 when Ceja landed a crushing blow with a devastating right which put Rivera on his back. Ceja quickly moved into mount and rained down punches leaving Rivera out cold as the referee quickly stopped the bout in round one.

The pick of the prelims was the fight of the night Women’s Atomweight bout between Paulina Granados and Jenna Serio. Both woman gave their all in a three round war which left both battered and bloody at the end after crazy exchanges throughout the fight.

Granados did enough to gain the unanimous decision victory in the extremely close fight and called out Kyra Batara who she’s expected to fight for the Atomweight title after that win.

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