It may be 18 days before bells jingle, people kiss beneath the mistletoe and reindeers are dashing through the snow; but before then it was Mixed Martial Arts action that made its way to the Christmas City on Friday night as PA Cage Combat held another successful show at the Sands Event Center, in Bethlehem, PA.
The main event saw Lehigh Valley bantamweight (135 lbs.) Scott 'The Animal' Heckman (13-3) win his fifth in a row as he took all three rounds against American Top Team's Ralph Acosta (9-8). Heckman was in control for the majority of the fight whether standing or on the ground.
Acosta had some moments early though as he worked his way to Heckman's back during a scramble in the first round. However Heckman, a three fight veteran of Bellator Fighting Championships, showed his experience, by not panicking and eventually reversing the tide. Upon doing so, it was Heckman unleashing punishment while standing and aggressively pursing a combination of guillotine and anaconda chokes on the ground. It's just a matter of time before Heckman finds himself back in the major leagues.
In the co-main event of the evening Bethlehem's own Rick 'El Numero Uno' Nuno, fighting in his professional debut, did not disappoint the many hometown fans in attendance as he finished tough Brad Mountain (1-3) via referee stoppage due to strikes. Nuno, who fights out of AMA Fight Club in Jersey, which is home to many UFC fighters, displayed his bread and butter fast hands en route to the victory.
It wasn't that easy early in the fight as Nuno found himself on the ground with Mountain on his back in a full body lock. Nuno however, showed that the ground game he's been working at AMA has been making a difference. With UFC veteran Charlie Brenneman in his corner, Nuno eventually worked himself free, reversing the position.
I asked him after the fight if he got nervous when he found himself in that position on the ground with his opponent on his back and he told me, "Not at all, I was relaxed. The only concern I had was where his hands were, but once I got control of those I knew I was okay."
Once he got loose he chose to keep the fight standing and that move would inevitably pay off. Using his superior hand speed and accuracy, he eventually caught Mountain with a left hook that dropped him dead in his tracks. Nuno immediately jumped on his opponent getting off a punch or two before the referee jumped in to stop it; much to the delight of the hometown crowd who were clearly there to support their native son.
When I asked Nuno how it felt to get his first pro win under his belt, he said, "Oh it feels great; but honestly I've been working so hard for this for so long, I'm just happy to get it over with and start to work towards the next one."
In the only title fight of the evening, Travis Creamer (8-1) became the new PCC middleweight (185 lbs.) champion by handing former titleholder Adam Atiyeh (5-1) his first defeat via unanimous decision. Creamer, who clearly lost the first round after Atiyeh used his patented lay and pray ground approach, readjusted and avoided the succeeding take down attempts; he then simply beat up Atiyeh the rest of the way to win a unanimous decisions.
Creamer, while avoiding Atiyeh's repeated take down attempts, unleashed punches, elbows and knees all over the former champs body. Atiyeh was the recipient of a mouse under his left eye in the second round that caused his eye to swell and it looked to slow down the ex-champ's effort.
The first fight on the main card featured Northampton's Tim 'The Savage' Kunkel (2-1) of TSK vs. ATT's Ryan Holmes (1-1) in a lightweight amateur bout. Kunkel, coming off his first loss back in August, rebounded nicely with an impressive second round submission via rear naked choke.
Kunkel looked a lot stronger and faster Friday night than he did when I saw him back in August. I asked him afterwards what the difference was for him this time around. His response was, "My cardio and training was a lot more strict for me this time. I changed up my whole program and it showed."
In all PCC provided 11 fights on the card, most of which were amateur, and that was after a few fights were scratched the day before at the weigh-ins. That's a lot of Merry MMA in the Christmas City right before the holidays.