Wilson Reis. Photo by Esther Lin.
SANTA YNEZ, Calif. – In an excellent, competitive matchup between skilled, determined, well-conditioned fighters, unbeaten Brazilian Wilson Reis (6-0) of Philadelphia registered a close, unanimous five-round decision over Abel Cullum (11-2) of Tucumcari, N.M., to capture the first-ever EliteXC bantamweight title Friday in the main event on ShoXC: Elite Challenger Series.
Los Angeles-based ProElite, Inc.’s live fight division, EliteXC presented the crowd-pleasing event from the Chumash Casino Resort. It aired on Showtime at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).
In other fights, Shane Del Rosario (5-0) of Irvine, Calif., scored a second-round TKO (strikes) over Carl Seumanutafa (4-1) of San Francisco, Calif.; in perhaps the fight of the night, David “Tarzan” Douglas (6-1) of Antioch, Calif., registered an upset third-round TKO (strikes) over Malaipet (3-3) of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Jaime Jara (20-5) of North Highlands, Calif., earned a hard-fought split decision over previously undefeated Giva Santana (12-1) of Laguna Niguel, Calif., and Eric “Bad” Apple (10-1) of Orange County, Calif., submitted (rear naked choke) Matt Makowski (3-1) of Philadelphia in the second round.
Non-televised bouts: Scott Lighty (4-0) of San Luis Obispo, Calif., registered a 4:15, first-round TKO (strikes) over Jamiah Williamson (3-1) of Los Angeles; Damian Douglas (3-1) of Antioch scored a 0:46, first-round submission over Joe Schilling (1-3) of Los Angeles; Steve Gable (3-0) of San Diego, Calif., won a split decision (29-28 twice and 28-29) over Josh McDonald (3-3) of San Francisco; Luke Riddering (2-0) of San Luis Obispo, Calif., stopped John Corstophine (1-2) of North Highlands, Calif., on strikes at 3:44 of the first; and Fernando Bettega (3-2) of Los Angeles submitted Mono Otero (3-3) of Albuquerque, N.M., with a rear naked choke a 2:27 of the opening round.
The main event fighters – both Abel and Wilson – displayed high-level grappling skills, but Reis (pronounced “H-ace’’) did enough to ground out a victory by the scores of 49-46 twice and 48-47.
“This was my dream, to win the 140-pound world title,’’ said southpaw Reis, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt stud who improved to 4-0 since coming to EliteXC in January 2008. “This is all very exciting.’’
Cullum, who had a 10-fight winning streak snapped, appeared physically smaller and was stepping up in weight. But he gave a fantastic account of himself, landed the vast majority of the telling punches and seemed to win over the crowd in attendance.
“No one wants to lose, but he was a strong guy and tough for me to keep off,’’ said Cullum, the King of the Cage 135-pound titleholder. “I wanted to be the aggressor, but I wound up on the ground too much. I thought the referee could have stood us up a couple of times, but it didn’t happen.’’
Del Rosario mostly dominated before the fight was stopped at 1:07 of the second.
“I didn’t feel that good before the fight but once I got into the cage I was fine,’’ said Del Rosario, who was making his third consecutive appearance on ShoXC. “I thought I had him once, and he came sort of close to getting me, but overall I am very happy.’’
For sheer excitement, Douglas-Malaipet was as good as it gets. A fight that featured numerous changes in momentum exceeded all expectations until it was stopped at 2:51 or the third.
“I stuck to my game plan, never quit and came out on top,’’ Douglas said. “I have never been in a fight this hard and I am exhausted and know I will be hurting tomorrow. But getting the victory makes it all worthwhile.’’
Malaipet, a Lumpinee champ in Thailand, lost his second consecutive start. The world-class kickboxer is an extremely dangerous striker, but he lacks a ground game and it cost him again.
“I thought I would do better on the ground, but overall I am happy,’’ said Malaipet, who was cut badly below his eye. “You haven’t seen the last of me and I thank all my fans for their support.’’
In an exceptional effort, Jara outpointed Santana by the scores of 29-28 twice and 28-29. The victory was the fourth in a row for Jara, who is 15-1 with one No Contest since June 2004.
“This was my hardest fight and he is definitely the toughest fighter I have faced,’’ Jara said. “I knew it was tight, but I felt I had done enough to win.
Santana is known as “The Arm Collector.” Ten of the unbeaten submission whiz’s 11 victories have come by armbar. But he did not come close to submitting Jara, who has not tapped out since November 2003.
“I am not going to complain about the decision but I felt I’d done enough to win and landed all the harder punches, especially in the third round.’’
Apple, who was making his ShoXC debut and first start since March 2007, forced the previously unbeaten Makowski to tape out at 2:04 of the second.
“I thought I was going to break his arm,’’ Apple said. “I came in thinking I was a little better than he was in all aspects of the game, and I was right. This was the perfect fight to knock the ring rust off.’