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Experience Matters

One of the more exciting fights on the undercard, the night at Hero FC’s Best of the Best IV the evening of 17 January 2015, featured an up and coming fighter out of Ohana Academy in San Antonio. A Jason Yerrington protégé,  Alexander Hernandez,  took on and defeated Jacob Capelli.  Hernandez suffered a cut over the left eye in the second round, and it was feared that the doctor would stop the fight. However, the doctor, recognizing that Alex was clearly dominating the fight, allowed it to continue, and as expected, Alex was declared the winner by unanimous decision.

We will be watching Alex as he moves up, for thus far, he has been very solid, and a credit to his mentor, Jason Yerrington, with his one loss being a close and disappointing decision going to Jamaal Emmers.   A championship belt in the near future is a distinct possibility, given Jeff Bonugli’s announcement of a $50,000 contract to be awarded in the 155 pound division.  Hernandez will be challenging Ray Banda for the contract, but whether Banda or Hernandez win the contract, they do so with the understanding that the road ahead of them will be getting progressively more difficult. Holding on to a title belt will become a great educational tool, and a test of their very best skills.

Fighters around the state are beginning to see that contract money is being paid out, month after month, to enable belt holders to train. The same skills Jeff Bonugli used to propel Gillespie Ford into the number one auto dealership in San Antonio a decade and a half ago are being applied here, and Hero FC’s Best of the Best MMA event is here to stay, with the additional backing of Charlie Clark and his Nissan dealership.

Regardless of who emerges as the winner, we can expect that the new 155 pound division will be challenged by more experienced fighters.  Consider the more experienced Brandon Farran, with nineteen pro fights under his belt, stripping the less experienced Ryan Spann of the 185 pound title in 21 seconds of the first round in Best of the Best III.  Spann had only five pro fights to his credit.  Much the same occurred in the match between Jammal  Emmers and Rey Trujillo. Emmers, another tough and upcoming fighter, entered the match sporting a 7-1-0 record, versus Trujillo’s 18-13-0.  Trujillo’s thirty one pro bouts unapologetically trumped the eight bouts Emmers had under his belt.  Although Emmers had devastated most of his previous opponents, in this event Trujillo countered his every move, almost easily. It was a credit to Emmers that he lasted into the second round. Thirteen of Trujillo’s seventeen wins were by KO, and the other four by unanimous decision.  Until meeting up with Jamaal Emmers, Trujillo had never won by submission.  That changed In 1:48 of the second round in this match, with Trujillo racking up his first submission win by triangle choke over Emmers.

Figure this to be a sign of things to come.  Consider the following:  the 135 pound belt is currently owned by David Fuentes, with twenty one fights under his belt.  The 145 pound belt is now held by Reynaldo Trujillo, who counts thirty two fights to his credit. As of this last event, the 185 pound belt went to Hayward Charles, a veteran of eighteen fights, who took it from Farran this past Saturday night. The point is, you have to respect experience. It matters. Experienced fighters who in the past were loathe to trust Jeff Bonugli at his word, are now coming to the table.

Whichever of the two emerges in the fight for Best of the Best V’s  155 pound title, be it Alex Hernandez, currently 5-1-0, or Ray Banda, at the moment 4-0-0, he can count on being challenged by more experienced fighters, hungry for  a  paying contract. Best of the Best gets better with each event. The large crowd in attendance was drawn there by the promise of great fighting, and they were not disappointed.

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mr. lopez

Chris Lopez began his training in Martial Arts in early 1967. He served as the defensive tactics instructor for the Austin Police Department from 1969-1974. For nearly forty years he's trained kickboxers, boxers, and karateka's in his dojo. He is a 10th Dan, the head of Texas Soryu MMA, and retired from the US Army.