Spirit Mountain hosts Caged Combat

A packed house witnessed an exciting evening of mixed-martial arts competition Friday night, as United Combat Sports presented Caged Combat II at Spirit Mountain Casino.


A packed house witnessed an exciting evening of mixed-martial arts competition Friday night, as United Combat Sports presented Caged Combat II at Spirit Mountain Casino. Fans were treated to a mix of amateur and pro fights, as well as an opportunity to meet special guest and mixed martial arts legend Wanderlei Silva.

The 34-year-old Silva, still considered one of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s top contenders, was all smiles before the event, signing autographs and taking photos with fans—a stark contrast from the viscous and seemingly remorseless in-ring reputation that has earned him the moniker “the axe-murderer.”

“[Local MMA] events open doors for new fighters,” Silva said, who had brought up a handful of fighters from his training camp in Las Vegas to compete at the event. “I love to come to shows like this.”

The night opened with seven amateur fights. In the smallest fight of the night, 125-pound competitors Airi Alcaraz and Jessie Lane threw big blows in a three-round battle. Alcaraz controlled the stand-up action, but Lane was able to use his wrestling background to take the fight to the ground and grind out a decision victory.

“With us little guys you know what you’re going to get,” Lane said. “You’re going to get fast pace and hard hits. People think we can’t pack a punch, but while one of the big guys hits you with one punch, we’re going to hit you five times, so I’ll take punches in bunches over power any day.”

Later in the night, local-favorite Cameron Holsclaw beat Kelly Nelson via rear-naked choke in the evening’s only heavyweight bout. A rematch from their first meeting where Nelson was the victor after a first round knockout, Holsclaw came into this fight with much more focus this time around.

“We [heavyweights] go out there and swing as hard as we can and try to knock each other’s heads off,” Holsclaw said. “And if you can get two big heavyweights rolling around, doing some wrestling, and doing some jits, well, then that’s something you don’t see every day.”

The first of four pro fights saw Matt Slasser and Nate Becker trading shots in a 145-pound competition. Making his debut as a professional, Slasser was quicker, tighter and sharper with his strikes, knocking out Becker with a left hook almost four minutes in the first round.

“I’ve never knocked anyone out before like that in a fight, so it’s been a long time coming,” Slasser said. “I was pretty nervous before, but after that win, I’m just feeling really excited.”

145-pounder Jason Gybles defeated Silva trainee John George in the night’s bloodiest battle. A wicked back-and-forth fight that eventually saw George submitting to a rear-naked choke in a puddle of his own blood.

“It’s incredible,” Gybles said with pride. “To know that the guy trains with world-class people, getting into a cage with him is a very intimidating feeling, but in the end it doesn’t matter who you train with, it matters who you are.”

However, the best was saved for last, as the main event provided a thrilling finish. Silva-product Massimo Capsuela faced off against possible UFC prospect Jake Mcknight in a 155-pound competition. Capsuela rocked McKnight on multiple occasions and was winning the fight, until the veteran McKnight capitalized on a mistake by the younger Capsuela, catching him in a triangle choke for the come-from-behind win.

“I wasn’t ready for his power and he came out and beat the [snot] out of me,” McKnight said. “I was thinking ‘quit hitting me,’ cause it hurts…I’m not a triangle choke guy. I would never go into a fight saying that I wanted to triangle someone…I just got lucky.”

“[Capsuela] is a great fighter,” McKnight added. “I have a lot of respect for him.”

After the fight, the 33-year-old McKnight showed the sportsmanship and camaraderie that’s often overlooked by critics of the sport, graciously giving his opponent credit and offering Capsuela advice from his own experiences.

“I’m not in this to be the bully on the block, I’m in this because I love to compete,” McKnight said. “It’s a sport that I felt like I was able to do well at. I have no interest in fighting on the streets, because I do this every day in the gym with my friends. I like to [compete] in front of people, entertain them, its a sport to me; it’s not just about fighting.”

Despite the losses by his fighters, Silva was proud of their performances and looks forward to other local shows by United Combat Sports.

“Congratulations on the event, it’s a nice place and there were some great fights tonight,” Silva said. “I have two other guys that I want to try and bring up for another show.”?