LOS ANGELES -- Brian Ortega's nickname is T-City, with the "T" being short for triangle.
The Black House fighter thought he had a triangle submission victory against Keoni Koch in their featherweight title main event at RFA 12 on Friday night. He, and most of the house at the Shrine Auditorium, thought Keoni Koch tapped in the fourth round.
Instead, since the fight wasn't stopped, it went the distance, a five-round thriller of a fight. Ortega won via an odd split decision (49-46,46-49, 49-46) to claim the vacant title and remain unbeaten.
"I thought he tapped, to be honest with you," said Ortega (8-0). "I thought he tapped and I thought he won the fight, so I let go a little bit. But it's OK, I got the win in the end."
Ortega, who came into the bout with four career submissions, seemed determined to the get-go to win the fight via finish. After dominating the standup in round one, he went for a flying triangle and nearly cinched it.
Koch (5-1), the older brother of UFC featherweight Erik Koch, wasn't just there to be an opponent, though. Koch upped the ante in round two, the round he likely won on all three scorecards, and which led to crazy exchanges both standing and on the ground.
By that point, Ortega knew he was in for a battle.
"He was all heart, man," Ortega said. "I knew he was tough coming into this fight. I knew I had to take this fight seriously and he showed why. He was such a tough opponent."
Ortega spent much of round three working from Koch's back on the ground. Early in round four, he worked his way into the super-tight triangle and armbar combo, which nearly ended the fight. Both fighters let it all hang out in round five, and Koch even managed a late choke, but Ortega escaped.
"I feel good," Ortega said. "I'm tired, but I feel good."
If Ortega's nickname is "T-City," then fellow Black House fighter Pedro Munhoz must be "G-City." the Sao Paulo native, and Torrance, Calif. resident made short work of previously unbeaten Billy Jenkins in the co-main event.
Munhoz (10-0) retained his RFA bantamweight title via guillotine choke in 41 seconds, the jiu-jitsu black belt's third guillotine win in his past five fights.
"He came in at me and the opening was there, I took it," Munhoz said. "The guillotine, that's my favorite move. I'll use it every time if it's there."
While Ortega, 22, looks like he's still a work in process, the 26-year-old Munhoz looks like he's ready for the call from the UFC.
"I am ready," said Munhoz. "That is my dream, I have been training hard, always I like to push more myself. That's my dream and hopefully they will call me to fight. I'll be ready."
In a matchup of a pair of middleweight with UFC and Strikeforce experience, "King" Kevin Casey (7-3) had an easy go of it with Eddie Mendez (7-3-1, 1 no-contest). Casey scored a takedown early in the fight, worked into side control, briefly had a Kimura, but then took top control and pummeled Mendez into submission. Casey won via verbal submission at 3:38 of round one for his fifth career stoppage win and second straight victory since his UFC release.
In women's strawweight fight which, in a just world, would earn both spots in the TUF 20 house, Justin Kish took a unanimous decision from Randa Markos Thomas.
Kish (4-0), a Black House fighter by way of North Carolina, put on a standup clinic over the first two rounds of the fight, mixing all sorts of kicks and standing elbows in with her crisp boxing. Thomas (3-1), from Windsor, Ont., was bloodied as a result, but she came out swinging in the third round and changed the complexity of the bout in a hurry. She scored a takedown, scored offense from the top, and nearly finished Kish with an armbar. Kish escaped and the fight went the distance. Judges' scores were 29-28, 29-28, and 30-27.
In a lightweight battle of Black House vs. Team Cesar Gracie fighters, Black House's James Moontarsi (6-1) handed Rick Reger (6-1) his first pro loss. Moontarsi, who comes from a Muay Thai background, started to turn the fight in his favor early in the first round. Early in the second, He caught Reger coming in with a huge right uppercut, swarmed him, and applied a rear-naked choke. Referee Jason Herzog pulled Moontarsi off for the technical submission at the 28-second mark.
In the main-card opener, Hawaii's Boston Salmon made his pro debut memorable with a vicious finish of Brazil's Perceu Friza. Salmon landed a vicious kick to the stomach, which sent Friza (2-1), who was cornered by Lyoto Machida, wobbling backwards. Salmon unleashed a violent gound-and-pound assault before the fight was waved off at 3:13.
In an undercard bout of note, John Hackleman Jr. needed just 11 seconds to finish Howard LaCroix in a middleweight matchup. With his father, legendary trainer John Hackleman Sr., in his corner, and UFC Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell watching from the front row, Hackleman Jr. wasted no time dropping LaCroix with a big right and and following up with a series of punches to his grounded foe. Hackleman Jr. improved to 2-0 on his career.