The World Fighting Federation hosted another night of sold-out fights at Casino Del Sol on July 25. The packed show pitted 24 fighters in various weight classes against one another in a non-stop, action-packed event.
Tickets were sold out two days before “World Fighting Federation 22” was scheduled, a new record for the organization. While seats are always available for WFF fights through traditional box office means, tickets were also sold by fighters in part to help promote themselves and their gyms.
WFF 22 was composed of seven different amateur title fights, including an amateur title fight in the bantamweight division between Ralphy “No Mercy” Pacheco and Steven Prior. Ten different professional fighters squared off for the last five fights, including a professional flyweight title fight between Tyler “Bad Apple” Bialecki and title-holder Brandon Moreno. The co-main event of the evening was the professional welterweight title fight between Kyle “Gunz Up” Stewart and Raymond “The Truth” Piña.
The first two fights ended quickly, both being called to a stop by referees Ryan Brueggeman and Al Guinee, respectively.
The fast, no-holds-barred style shown in the first fights seemed to be a theme at WFF 22; just over half of the 12 individual contests didn’t make it past the first round, either by knockout, TKO or submission.
Though many of the fighters were busy mentally preparing for the trials ahead, some took some time to share their stories.
Dorian Ramos, who made his amateur debut against Julio Cisneros, spent every moment of his free time getting ready for his fight. He trains with his older brother, Andy Perez, and that relationship keeps both brothers motivated. Ramos’ mentality was pretty straight forward.
“To come out on top no matter what,” he said. “I was training to win; I was ready for anything, as long as I win.”
Ramos’ mentality paid off in his victory via unanimous decision.
This serious mindset was fairly common among the fighters. In such an intense sport, emotions tend to run a little high when a fight’s date comes looming. Often, pent up feelings, multiplied greatly by pre-fight trash talking, tends to boil over during weigh ins. WFF 22 was no different.
The highlight of weigh-ins the night before the fights was when Israel “TikiBeast” Aquino and Perez took the stage at Casino Del Sol. After a few heated words while both men were took to the scale, their pre-fight photograph heated up and WFF founder Thom Ortiz had to step in to separate the fighters.
“When it came down to it, I had a medical problem and couldn’t make it down to 170,” Aquino said. “We had to do a catch-up weight, and he wasn’t happy about that. I told him ‘if you really got a problem, we’re going to have to wait until the cage.’”
Perez said his actions at the weigh-ins are part of what he brings to the sport as a competitor.
“Most of all in my fights, I try and put in a lot of intensity,” he said. “It’s a job, but in the end, I’m still fighting. Why would I be nice to that guy?”
Despite a phenomenal effort on Perez’s part, Aquino took the win via rear naked choke in the first round.
No fight that night was a bore, and each moment brought with it a new punch, kick or throw that resounded off the walls of the main ballroom. There was one fight, however, that received additional honors.
The submission of the night award went to Pacheco for his astounding second round win via guillotine choke of Prior during the bantamweight title fight. Other championship fight winners were Moreno retaining his professional flyweight belt and Stewart, winning the professional welterweight belt.
Ramos, during his own fight, found himself in a choke similar to the one that Pacheco used in his submission of the night win.
“I don’t really remember much,” Ramos said regarding those tense moments in last round. “I just remember thinking to myself, ‘I’m not going to tap, I’m not going to tap.’ I could feel his arms weaken a little, but I was starting to black out and I felt my arms go. He eventually let up and let me go. That felt really good.”
After taking home the victory, Ramos was able to reflect on just how dangerous a place he was in, though he remained proud of his victory.
“I had never been choked like that before. But after being knocked down twice in that fight, I really showed myself that I can go through anything,” he said.
Many of the fighters that WFF features, like Ramos, are from Arizona, if not directly out of a Tucson gym.
Justin Rascon is another local fighter.
“I wrestled all through middle school, high school and some in college,” Rascon said.
He is a graduate from Mountain View High school and was discovered by Ortiz through high school wrestling.
Like many others in the WFF, Rascon moved from a wrestling background to mixed martial arts, better known as MMA.
“When I came home [from college] a bunch of my buddies were training at the gym, what happened to be Boxing Inc. Northwest at the time,” he said. “They said ‘hey man, do you want to step in and help us out?’ I just fell in love with it, hitting mitts one day. I was lucky enough to have some guys in the corner see me and say, ‘man, you’ve got a good style.’”
Rascon was able to secure a victory via unanimous decision against “Sleepy” Soliven.
The final fight of the night provided big excitement, though it was a disappointment for local fans. Stewart was able to best Piña via arm bar in the first round.
Stewart lived up to the praise given to him by Piña.
“Dude’s a well-rounded fighter,” Piña said before the fight. “He’s a very good striker and he has submissions off the floor. It’s going to be a tough fight, it’s for a belt and I’m looking forward to it.”
The cage finally began disassembly around midnight, not too long after the fights ended, though the excitement continued on around Casino Del Sol’s property as the post-fight celebrations were in full-effect.
World Fighting Federation will be bringing fighting action back to Arizona later this month, though the festivities won’t be in Tucson.
“World Fighting Federation 23” will be held at the Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino on Aug. 22.
Tickets are available at buyfighttickets.com, as well as from many of the fighters participating in the event.