PILLA SUFFERS FIRST CAREER LOSS IN COMBAT ZONE MMA MAIN EVENT FRIDAY NIGHT
SALEM, NH (January 31, 2015- In a stunning upset in the main event of Combat Zone MMA 52, New York invader Danny Abad defeated the previously unbeaten amateur featherweight champion Jake “The Gorilla” Pilla in the packed Sports Club at Rockingham Park on Friday night.
While Pilla’s opponents had never before survived the first round, Abad was able to defend his takedowns and rock the title holder with solid striking to score the razor-thin unanimous 29-28 decision. Although the bout had been scheduled as a title fight at five rounds, the belt was no longer at stake when Abad weighed in one pound over and it was cut to three rounds.
“I’ve imagined this win a thousand times. This was the biggest fight of my career,” said Abad, who evened his record at 3-3 with the win over the very popular local fighter. “I was fighting the whole crowd as well as Jake for the entire time. It was my heart that made the difference. I came here to fight. That what’s I do.”
Pilla, the 20-year-old from Billerica, MA who had UFC fighter John “Doomsday Howard” working his corner, dropped to 4-1.
“He is so strong. But I’m strong, too,” said Abad, who added he successfully battled cancer when he was 13. “He was the undefeated king and I’d love to come back and give him a rematch. He deserves that one hundred percent, and the crowd deserves that, too. I’m coming after the title.”
In what was scheduled as a welterweight title fight between Nick Alley from Hooksett, NH and JT Harold from Andover, MA until Alley weighed in two pounds heavy, the mentally and physically tough Alley took the worst of it in the opening stanza, first suffering a sharp poke in the eye followed by an inadvertent but vicious blow below the belt. But he was able to fight through the pain of both and match the athletic and equally tough Harold strike for strike and kick for kick.
In the thrilling second round when the crowd was on its feet screaming, Harold got a pair of takedowns but Alley was able to work his way cleae and then his opponent managed to survive the attempt to submit him. Round three was as intensely hard-fought as the fighters matched strikes and kicks until the final bell.
But it was Alley who prevailed, winning the biggest test of his career by split decision, 30-27, 28-29, and 30-27, to improve to 3-1 while taking home the Chang’s Tae Kwan Do Fighter of the Night trophy.
“I honestly wasn’t sure who was going to win,” said Alley, who gave a shout out to his coaches at Team Link North.
With the light heavyweight title belt being put up for grabs for the first time, #3 ranked Xavier Vargas from Havehill, MA squared off against Crowsneck Boutin in a highly anticipated five round battle of the 205 pounders. While they were feeling one another out for most of the first round, Boutin, the #7 ranked middleweight, landed repeated strong leg kicks before Vargas responded with a flurry of punches.
In the second stanza, Vargas was more aggressive with his punches and they took the match to the mat but neither could secure a choke hold. The third round belonged to Vargas, who bloodied his opponent’s nose and landed repeated blows before referee Steve Rita stopped the action at 1:33 and awarded him the TKO.
“It feels great to be the champ and take that belt,” said a tired Vargas. “He hits like a truck, a lot harder than I thought. His leg kicks hurt. I stuck to my game plan and what I trained for. Once I started hitting him, he didn’t want any part of it and kept backing up.”
Vargas, who should rise in the ranks with the win and is now 4-2, said turning professional may be next for him but his coaches at Spero’s MMA in Plaistow, NH will decide. Boutin, who fights out of Lubec, ME and was recently named the most improved amateur fighter, slipped to 6-7.
In a fight between lightweights, Brian Cosco from Revere, MA took former Southern New Hampshire University hockey player Ryan DiBartolomeo all the way to only four seconds from letting the judges decide the outcome by decision. But DiBartolomeo was able to notch the win when he forced his opponent to tap out with an arm bar at 2:56 of round 3. DiBartolomeo, fighting for Triumph BJJ in Nashua, NH, evened his record at 3-3 while Cosco leveled his at 2-2.
Mike “The Animal” Scapppachio from Spero’s MMA and Will “Crazy Willy” McCall from Maine’s Team Irish got the room rocking as they waged an intense and battle at 152 pounds while going blow for blow until Scappachio executed the rear naked choke in 1:26 of round 3 to stay undefeated and improve to 3-0. McCall slipped to 1-2.
Next up in a match at 155 pounds, Boston University student and wrestler Peter Ishiguro and CJ Kelvin from Tilton, NH climbed into the cage for their first matches and Ishiguro was able to land flurries of punishing strikes to his opponent’s head in the first round and then come back in the second with more. Referee John English decreed that Klein has taken enough and stopped the fight 2:31 into the stanza. Ishiguro moved to 1-0 while Kelvin absorbed the loss to go 0-1.
The night kicked off with a featherweight bout between two fighters also making their debut, and Kyle Adams (1-0) from Derry showed promise by submitting Raphael Duran from Methuen, MA with a big kick followed by the anaconda choke hold 34 seconds after the opening bell of the second round. Duran (0-1) tried for the takedowns through an evenly-matched first round but Adams was the one who was able to get his opponent on the mat.
Combat Zone 53 returns to Rockingham Park on April 24, 2015.
145 lbs- Danny Abad (Watertown, NY) def. Jake Pilla (Billerica, MA) by unanimous decision
170 lbs- Nick Alley (Hooksett, NH) def. JT Harold (Andover, MA) by split decision
205 lbs- Xavier Vargas (Haverhill, MA) def. Crowsneck Boutin (Lubec, ME) by TKO 1:33 round 3
150lbs- Ryan DiBartolomeo (Leominster, MA) def. Brian Cosco (Revere, MA) by arm bar 2:56 Round 3
152 lbs- Mike Scappachio (East Boston, MA) def. Will McCall (So. Portland, ME) by rear naked choke 1:26 Round 3
155 lbs- Peter Ishiguro (Mission Viejo, CA) def. CJ Kelvin (Tilton, NH) by TKO 2:31 Round 2
145 lbs- Kyle Adams (Derry, NH) def. Raphael Duran (Methuen, MA) by anaconda choke :34 Round 2