Win or lose, New Mexico fighters never took their gloves off in 21

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Simply put, there have been better years for combat sports in New Mexico. Much better. Many of them.

Holly Holm of Albuquerque faced French Anne Sophie Mathis in a boxing match on June 15, 2012 at Casino Route 66 on June 15, 2012. Holm’s victory that night was arguably the defining achievement of his career as boxer in the Hall of Fame.
Pat Vasquez-Cunningham / Journal

Still, 2021 has given us some great things.

Holly Holm from Albuquerque was selected to be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame – an honor more than justified by her resume in the ring before moving on to MMA.

Holm Jackson-Wink’s teammate Aaron Pico (9-3) has gone 2-0 this year and, on a five-game winning streak, continues to climb the Bellator featherweight standings. Jackson-Wink’s Davion Franklin (4-0), who had no amateur experience, scored two sensational victories and established himself as a heavyweight contender for the Bellator.

Las Cruces amateur boxer Joscelyn Olayo-Muñoz has won another US national title – in fact two, since USA Boxing nationals 2020 and 2021 took place this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Albuquerque fancier Sharahya Moreu won silver at the 2021 national championships, earning a berth on the elite United States national team and an opportunity to compete for a berth at the world championships.

Ariana Carrasco from Las Cruces won a national title in 2020.

As always, New Mexico fighters won and lost. From a win percentage perspective, this has been a banner year for Jackson-Wink MMA, with a win rate close to 90% – now and possibly improving its position as one of the top MMA gyms in the world. world.

Out of the cage / ring, however, 2021 has been a brutal year.

Former UFC light heavyweight Jon Jones didn’t have a fight in 2021, unless it was the one he allegedly had in a hotel room in Las Vegas, Nevada, in September.

Jones, a resident of Albuquerque since 2009, was arrested on September 24 and charged with domestic violence after his fiancee was found, according to a police report, with blood on her face and clothing. When he was apprehended on the Las Vegas Strip, police said, he head butted a patrol car.

In the aftermath, Jones was kicked out of Jackson-Wink, his longtime training house, by JW co-owner and co-founder Mike Winkeljohn. The ban was not meant to be permanent, but Jones said he had no plans to return.

Earlier this month, Jones agreed to a plea deal, not contesting any charges of damaging a vehicle. The charge of domestic violence was dropped. Jones, meanwhile, continued his efforts through his CARE project to help those less fortunate in his adopted hometown.

It was also a difficult year for MMA fighter and former New Mexico resident Nicco Montaño.

In August, Montaño was cut off by the UFC when she failed to put on any weight for a scheduled fight against Yanan Wu. In November, Montaño told police in Austin, Texas, that she had been beaten by a man in an Austin hotel.

Montaño was also the subject of an award-winning documentary, “Warrior Spirit,” whose theme was originally his emergence as the UFC’s first Native American champion. Documentary filmmaker Landon Dyksterhouse expanded the project to reflect a horrific weight reduction in 2018 that led to the UFC taking the title away from him.

Montaño was an exception to a scene in the documentary which showed his naked reflection in a mirror. Dyksterhouse has agreed to blur his image in this scene.

COVID-19 had a significant impact on combat sports in New Mexico in 2021.

Albuquerque MMA fighter Ray Borg (14-5) won a comeback fight in Abu Dhabi, UAE – his first fight in 13 months after being released from the UFC – but saw a second fight from the UAE Warriors canceled when it caught COVID. Recovered, Jackson’s bantamweight Acoma is set to face Cody Gibson on an Eagle Fighting Championship card in Miami on January 28.

Diego Sanchez (31-13), Borg’s former Jackson-Wink teammate, is also set to fight on EFC 44 in Miami – this after a bout with COVID that put him in hospital for an extended period. .

Sanchez, 39, has fought professionally since 2002. He has lost three of his last four games, the only victory coming by disqualification in a fight he was losing hard.

Carlos Condit of Albuquerque (32-14) has announced his retirement after a splendid career that was only missing a UFC title – although it can be argued that a questionable decision in his midweight title fight pleas against Robbie Lawler in 2016 deprived him of this distinction.

For Holm, a health issue and a knee injury kept her from entering the Octagon all year round. She remains the UFC’s No.2 challenger in the bantamweight division, but at 40 she needs current champion Julianna Peña to once again defeat former champion Amanda Nunes in order to have a realistic chance. get a title before the release of 2022.

It has been a quiet year in professional boxing, with significant losses outweighing a handful of wins.

In January, Albuquerque native Angelo Leo (21-1, nine KOs) lost his WBO Super Bantamweight title to Stephen Fulton by unanimous decision. Leo then defeated Aaron Alameda by majority decision in June, maintaining a presence in the 122-pound table.

Rio Rancho welterweight Brian Mendoza and Albuquerque’s Sanchez brothers Jason and José Luís fought high-risk, high-reward fights and were turned away.

Mendoza (19-2, 13 KOs) lost to Jesús Alejandro Ramos by unanimous decision. Jason Sanchez (15-3, six KOs) lost by majority decision to Adam Lopez in an NABF featherweight title fight that could have gone Sanchez’s direction on the scorecards but didn’t.

José Luís Sanchez (11-2-1, four KOs) fought to a draw with veteran Adrian Granados in May, then lost by unanimous decision to Top Rank, Inc., prospect Xander Zayas in September.

At a standstill, live boxing returned to New Mexico.

Teresa Tapia promoted two cards at the Mountain Gods Hostel in Mescalero, the second featuring an exhibition fight between retired world champions Marco Antonio Barrera and Daniel Ponce de Leon. Isidro Castillo put on two shows in his hometown of Hobbs.

Popular Albuquerque welterweight Josh Torres (23-7-1, 14 KOs) won his fight on Tapia’s first card, but a broken ankle sidelined him for the rest of the year .

Professional boxing returned to Albuquerque after an 18-month hiatus when Legacy Promotions presented a card to the Albuquerque Convention Center. In the main event, Albuquerque featherweight Aaron Angel Perez (10-1-1, six KOs) tasted defeat for the first time as a pro – loser by unanimous decision to Californian Diego Elizondo.

Abraham Perez, Aaron Angel’s younger brother and 2020 Olympic Trials champion, launched his professional career in a successful but frustrating way. His first opponent, Matthew Melton, retired after one round; his second opponent, Kenneth Jamerson, lasted barely a minute and a half.

Austin Trout of Las Cruces (34-5-1, 18 KOs), a former world champion, has made managerial and promotional changes. He’s won fights in Mexico and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, but at 36 he’s not ranked in the top 10 by any of the top four sanctioning bodies at either weight (154 and 147 pounds) which he fought.

Undefeated super flyweight Matt Griego (11-0, eight KOs), without a fight since March 2020, has followed the course laid out by Leo and Mendoza and settled in Las Vegas, Nevada, looking for more opportunities. in larger ones.

What awaits us in 2022? The omicron variant, no doubt, will have something to say about this.

What the new normal will look like, we’ll have to see.


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