ONTARIO, Calif. -- An unheralded regional competitor gave Tyrone Spong a reminder Saturday night that even though Spong is a decorated kickboxing champion, he's still a newcomer at mixed martial arts.
Angel DeAnda of Oakdale, Calif. hung with Spong the full 15 minutes of their World Series of Fighting 4 main event at Citizens Business Bank Arena.
Spong (2-0) was never in any danger, as he brutalized DeAnda (11-3) with leg kicks over the course of the fight. But nor was he able to get off the sort of ferocious finishing flurry fans expected to see, as an ultra-tough DeAnda absorbed everything Spong could dish out and stayed on his feet.
Scores were 30-27, 30-27, and 29-28 in favor of the Blackzilians fighter.
"I feel really good about the victory," Spong said. "I went in with no expectations and I wanted to feel him out and see what he was made of."
While the light heavyweight main event lacked the fireworks many expected, the rest of the main card made up for it.
A heavyweight fight between WSOF president Ray Sefo and veteran Dave Huckaba turned into an entertaining old-school brawl. Sefo, the 42-year-old kickboxing legend, won the first round with a steady assault of brutal leg kicks, and even landed a spinning back fist.
Late in the second round, though, Sefo (2-2) missed a head kick and Huckaba responded with a brutal left hand. The iron-chinned Sefo stayed on his feet throughout Huckaba's onslaught before the referee called stop to it at 4:37.
Both boss and employee agreed they put on an entertaining show for the fans.
"I knew he was a hard hitter," said Sefo. "I didn't want an easy fight. We were swinging for the fences, and whoever threw the best punch was gonna get it.
"Fans got a great fight," Huckaba said. "Two of us, each taking their turns hitting the other. He was really getting to me with those leg kicks, but I prevailed. What a great feeling this is."
Moraes, who trains with Frankie Edgar, battered Hempleman from the outset with a solid mixed of punches and kicks. He turned Hempleman into a bloody mess on the ground, to the point that the doctor was called in to check the cut, but Hempleman was cleared to fight.
In the second, Moraes landed precise leg kicks, one of which left Hempleman limping for the remainder of the fight. Moraes slowed the pace in the third round, but still cruised to 30-27 scores on all three judges' cards.
"Man, that guy was tough. He just kept coming forward," Moraes said. "It was a great fight for both of us. I broke my middle finger in the first round. Not taking anything away from him, but I know I could have done better."
A controversial stoppage marred what was a well-contested scrap between lightweights JZ Cavalcante and Tyson Griffin in main-card opener. The duo split the first two rounds, which featured crisp striking and sharp counters, but Griffin finishing off the first with a takedown and Cavalcante looking a little faster in round two.
In round three, Griffin was face down on the mat and Cavalcante was landing punches which weren't doing much damage when referee Jason Coy called for the stoppage. Griffin popped right up and immediately protested the call, but it goes in the books at a TKO at 1:37 of the third round.
"For me, a win is a win and I love to win," said Cavalcante, who earned a spot in WSOF's upcoming lightweight title tournament. "But I hate to win this way. I don't want the fans to boo, I want them to be happy. I want to win convincingly.
‘It was a bad stoppage," said Griffin. "I never submitted. He got me in a bad position and as I was trying to work my way out the ref decided to stop the fight."
Gerald Harris' unanimous-decision victory over Jorge Santiago was an odd affair. Harris (22-5) appeared to have Santiago (25-12) defeated in the closing seconds of round one after a vicious slam. But the referee broke up the action to dock Santiago a point for blatantly grabbing the top of the fence before the slam.
Santiago, who appeared to be close to finished due to the impact from the slam, was given a new lease on life by the ref. But in round two, Harris smothered Santiago and prevented him from getting off any offense. In round three, Santiago fought like a fighter who knew he needed a finish, but it wasn't coming.
Harris took 29-27 scores across the board. While WSOF matchmaker Abdul Abdel-Aziz indicated earlier in the week that they were hoping to match the winner against Jon Fitch in October, Harris indicated he broke his right hand during the fight.
"It was a great fight," Harris said. "I had a good 1 and 2. But after the slam in the first I thought it was over, and had an adrenaline dump. I broke my right hand in the first round and I knew I couldn't punch with him. I couldn't squeeze at all.
Santiago, for his part, was okay with the decision but disputed the idea he went out from the slam.
"I didn't have a problem with the decision," he said. "The whole fight changed when I lost a point for holding on to the cage. After that I had to change the way I wanted to fight, and it changed the complexion of the fight and how the judges saw it."