Mixed Martial Arts: Napa Valley Expo hosts SFC 1 Premier fight card
Mixed Martial Arts

Mixed Martial Arts: Napa Valley Expo hosts SFC 1 Premier fight card

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In most mixed martial arts bouts, it’s the big knockouts that get people out of their seats.

San Francisco Combat’s first MMA event, SFC 1 Premier, was no different Saturday night at the Napa Valley Expo.

The 10-fight card was the fifth MMA event in Chardonnay Hall organized by Napa’s Steve Barnett, who promoted the first four events as Bay Area Combat before forming SFC with Ashanti Altovese Griffin.

The big blow of the night belonged to the biggest (265 pounds) and oldest (50) fighter on the card, Edward Lawson of Manteca. Lawson, who trains with Team Voodoo in Modesto, sent opponent Nicholas Avner to the floor just 28 seconds into the first round with a thunderous right hand that ended the fight.

“I’ve been with them about 18 months and I’ve I have to be honest, they took me out of drug rehab program and started training me at the age of 48,” admitted Lawson. “We all have good days and bad days. This was a good day for me and not so good for him. I’m just trying to stay in shape, which is a challenge at 50 years old. I have no grand illusions. I just want to keep fighting.”

Another first-round knockout was registered by Stockton’s Geoffrey Stovall, who KO’ed Vallejo’s Sean Foster to win the 205-pound SF Combat Belt title belt just 52 seconds into the first round.

“This was the second belt I’ve won. The first one was about three years ago with 5150 fights,” shared Stovall. “We had a string of bad luck after that, so I took a couple years off to straighten everything out. This was my first fight back after that hiatus, but we never stopped training and we never stopped working. I credit the knockout to my coaches. I came to them as a blank slate.”

As for what comes next, Stovall said he was planning to take little break before returning to the ring.

It’s always popular with the fans when the ladies climb into the ring and have at it, and Saturday night was no different. Katarina Legoretta of Stockton won the inaugural 115-pound SF Combat Title Belt with a hard-fought TKO over Sacramento’s Valerie Thurs.

“I’ve always been a tomboy,” admitted Legoretta.

She said her uncle helped get her into mixed martial arts fighting, but that her mother was a little more of a tough sell.

“She didn’t want me to do it at first, but I really liked it,” said Legoretta.

The other title belt handed out Saturday night went to Edwin de los Santos in the 135-pound weight class. After a slow start, the San Jose native came on strong in the second two rounds and recorded a unanimous win over the Bay Area’s Marques Jones.

Other fights Saturday night went as follows:

— William Fassaha of San Jose defeated Alexis Betancourt of Napa with a TKO 26 seconds into the first round.

— Derrick Hughes of Vallejo came back strong to record a unanimous decision after being flattened early in the first round by opponent San Turner of Woodland.

— Christopher Ryan Fernandez, a 155-pounder from Pinole, spent most of his fight pounding William Varner Oakland with relentless right hands. Fernandez was eventually awarded the fight by TKO 52 seconds into the second round.

— Anthony Beal of Vallejo TKO’ed Rocky Batten 1 minute, 34 seconds into the first round courtesy of a chokehold.

— Fairfield’s Chistopher Thurlo won his 185-pound match in the first round over Brian Neideffer by verbal submission.

— The Bay Area’s Gary Helm won the other bout of the night via verbal submission over Sacramento’s Michael Esterline in the 205-pound class.

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