GARDEN GROVE, Calif. --- An odd weekend of mixed martial arts continued with another odd finish to a main event, this time in an odd setting, to boot.
Challenger Joseph Barajas' knee blew out early in his World Series of Fighting 28 main event against champion Marlon Moraes, putting a halt to their WSOF bantamweight title fight at just 1:13 at the Next Level Sports Complex.
With the TKO victory, Moraes had his ninth WSOF victory, a company record.
Barajas (12-2), of Vista, Calif., was offered the title shot after just one fight in the company, and appeared ready to mix it up.
But Moraes began punishing Barajas from the get-go with brutal kicks high and low. Barajas crumpled after the final one and began clutching his leg, leading referee John McCarthy to step in and wave off the bout before Moraes could do more damage.
"That was part of the game plan, to kick him," said Moraes (16-4-1), who has won 11 straight fights. "I wanted to let go with everything I have. I'm the best 135er in the world, I can fight with anybody. You fight with me, you're going to get hurt bad."
It was swift conclusion to an unusual evening of fights conducted at a recplex, with youth volleyball and rec league basketball games going on simultaneously with the fights most of the evening, creating for an out-of-the-ordinary atmosphere.
Moraes' victory came one fight after his expected next title challenger was derailed on a controversial call. Unheralded Chris Gutierrez scored a split-decision victory over Timur Valiev of Jackson's MMA and Dagestan. The judges' scores were a 30-27 in favor of Valiev and a pair of 29-28s for Gutierrez, who was making his WSOF debut.
Valiev got the best of the second round, using an aggressive style reminiscent of Khabib Nurmagomedov, who was in Valiev's corner. Gutierrez, of Greenville, Tex., initiated the bulk of the action in the third round, and got the nod on two of the three judges' card.
So it all came down to how you scored the opening round, which was a tentative affair. Gene Lebell, who had the 30-27 Valiev card, gave it to Valiev, while Chris Crail and Jackie Denkin both had it for Gutierrez, the difference in the bout.
Gutierrez improved to 9-1-1 with his seventh straight win; Valiev dropped to 10-2 and had a 10-fight win streak snapped.
Jamie Yager's first fight in three years was in jeopardy twice this week, as a pair of potential welterweight foes dropped out. Journeyman Daniel McWilliams of Palmdale, Calif. stepped in at the last minute.
Yager (7-4), of Hungtington Beach, Calif., wasted little, submitting McWilliams with an armbar in 38 seconds, dropping him to 13-33.
For Yager, all that mattered was getting to compete.
"It's really satisfying," said Yager, who earned his sixth career finish. "Matt's a good, tough guy, thanks for taking the fight, it's great to be back in here."
In the main card welterweight opener, Bremerton Wash.'s Andrew Hamm looked like he was going to come out unscathed, if not a winner, in his bout against Ozzie Alvarez of Huntington Beach, Calif.
Then, in the final second of what had been an uneventful fight, Alvarez drilled Hamm with a picture-perfect spinning back kick to the face, which left Hamm (4-4) with a broken nose for his efforts. The pinpoint strike punctuated a unanimous decision win for Alvarez (7-3) with a pair of 30-27s and a 29-28.
Two undercard bouts of note: Jailin Turner of San Berndardino, Calif. made his pro debut a memorable one, as he dropped Eric Steans (4-5) of Los Angeles with a one-punch knockout at just 38 seconds of round one. And in a bantamweight bout, referee Mike Beltran docked Mike Rubeska of Orange, Calif., a point for repeatedly spitting out his mouthguard against Fard Muahammad (3-3) of Las Vegas. That point cost Rubeska (0-2-1) the fight, and Muhammad took a majority decision at 28-28, 29-27, and 28-27.