Amateur brawlers fight for recognition and loved ones during ‘Mayhem in Mesquite XVII’

MESQUITE, Nev. — When the official announcer for Tuff-N-Uff, Justin Bernard, walks out of the cage saying there was a lot of blood on the mat, you know it was a brutal night in the octagon.

Hyrum LeBaron at “Mayhem in Mesquite XVII,” Aug. 19, 2019, Mesquite, Nevada | Photo by Andrew Pinckney, St. George News

The Casablanca Resort Hotel Event Center was packed Saturday night for “Mayhem in Mesquite XVII” as 26 amateur mixed martial arts fighters slugged it out and kept the mat cleaners busy all evening long. 

Fighters weighed in ranges from the super heavyweight class like Steven Eargle out of Cedar City, all the way down to 135 pound Laneisha Vinson, the current No. 1 rated female amateur fighter in the world, according to “Tuff-N-Uff: The Future Stars of the MMA” owners.

The card included brawlers from as far away as Massachusetts, 11 Las Vegas locals and seven fighters from Southern Utah, three of which debuting with Tuff-N-Uff. Some came out to fight with something to prove, one man to fight for his young daughter and one fighter for kids he doesn’t even know. 

The night featured two title fights, a super heavyweight title fight, and the main event for the bantamweight title featuring Laneisha Vinson and undefeated Taylor Thompson, who flew in with a 4-0 record all the way from Worcester, Massachusetts, for the matchup. In the end, the blue corner dominated all evening, winning 10 out of 13 fights.

Two fighters from Las Vegas started off the excitement as 175 pound Joseph Smith found himself finishing the first round climbing off the floor, but with seconds left before the second round bell tolled, his opponent, Bryan Hernandez, took his own turn on the mat. Hernandez started off the third round with a kick to the legs and had Smith backed in a corner or on the run for most of the round. But Smith was able to hold out and took away the first win of the night.

Joseph Smith at “Mayhem in Mesquite XVII,” Aug. 19, 2019, Mesquite, Nevada | Photo by Andrew Pinckney, St. George News

St. George’s Juan Varela didn’t have to wait long to improve his record to 1-2. Both men came out swinging and were on the floor in 20 seconds, but after an onslaught of punches, one series 30 seconds long, Hurricane’s Bowdie James Heaps was forced to quit when the referee stopped the fight with a few seconds left on the clock in round one. Heaps now has one win and one loss.

Next, weighing in at 145 pounds, Jared Brown squared off against Kansas City, Missouri’s Tyler Madl. Brown, from Stillwater, Oklahoma, was smiling in his debut after his win forcing Madl into submission in the second round. Madl’s record falls to 1-1.

Heavyweight Jeremiah Kaliko from St. George won in his debut fight against Miami’s Mark Dubovoy, who walked out of the cage at 1-2. Dubovoy was no match and lost by knockout when the referee again had to call off a fight.

Following the weigh-in Friday night, many eyes were on the fifth fight of the night between Hurricane’s Adrian Barlow and Octavian Trumbo from Las Vegas. Trumbo proved victory was easy against Barlow in his debut fight, winning by technical knockout in Round 2. 

Hyrum LeBaron brought everything he had from St. George to fight number six. LeBaron, whose record was even at 1-1, chased Deangelo Yates around for six minutes with multiple kicks and fast punches. Yates, a fighter from Extreme Couture MMA in Las Vegas, never really could find an answer to the attacks and lost by unanimous decision.

Hyrum LeBaron at “Mayhem in Mesquite XVII,” Aug. 19, 2019, Mesquite, Nevada | Photo by Andrew Pinckney, St. George News

Number seven was unlucky for Las Vegas fighter Roger Atchley. He, too, lost by unanimous decision, failing to keep 155-pound Rashaad Lee Thomas, also from Las Vegas, pinned to the floor. Thomas had only one win under his belt in five fights coming into the night. He now improves to 2-5, while Atchley fell to 2-2.

After a three-round war, judges went to the scorecards and Tyler Hinton came out on top next, winning by unanimous decision. Hinton improved his record to 2-0 and Tanner Madl now stands at 1-1 in the second loss of the night for the Missouri-based Madl brothers.

In his debut fight, Las Vegas’s Gregory Spann faced St. George’s Brandon Honsvick. With the motto “Be a Warrior, Fight for Down Syndrome” written on his team’s shirts, Honsvick strapped on his gloves Saturday to battle it out for his young daughter. Honsvick made his debut with Tuff-N-Uff last December in an action-packed fight and Saturday he brought a barrage of hard-hitting punches, pummeling Spann to a KO loss. Honsvick, of Empire MMA, improved to 3-1.

Las Vegas fighters went head-to-head again in the 10th bout, but 2-3 Desmond Manabat couldn’t keep up and was forced into submission by Drew Harbinson. Harbinson now has two wins and zero losses.

“Mayhem in Mesquite XVII,” Aug. 19, 2019, Mesquite, Nevada | Photo by Andrew Pinckney, St. George News

The first female fighters of the night traded jabs during fight No. 11, which featured a pair of fighters from Las Vegas, 1-1 Brandi Buckley and Blanca Marquez. In Round 3, the referee stopped the fight and Marquez won by TKO. She remains undefeated with three wins.

The super heavyweights, Ryan Gilbert from Hasting, Michigan, and Steven Eargle faced off for the night’s first title up for grabs. Eargle, from Empire MMA in Cedar City, was not only entering his debut fight for himself but also for those that can’t fight for themselves, the children of BACA.

Gilbert has been fighting since he was 17 years old and was the former Michigan State Champion runner-up. However, his 375-pound size and fighting skills couldn’t help him from getting smacked down against the cage as Eargle knocked him out early in the first round.

Empire MMA, “Mayhem in Mesquite XVII,” Aug. 19, 2019, Mesquite, Nevada | Photo by Andrew Pinckney, St. George News

Despite being the No. 1 rated female amateur MMA fighter in the world, Vinson still came into the ring punching like she had something to prove in the night’s main event for the world bantamweight championship. Her opponent, Thompson, has been training MMA continuously for the past three years and already held two bantamweight titles from other promotions.

The moment the first bell rang, Vinson came in swinging hard, hitting more times than Thompson as the pair traded punches. Both went for high and knee kicks as they chased each other across the mat and traded positions up against the cage.

Thompson wouldn’t give up and tried several ways to connect with power, from kicks to different punches, but even with her longer reach, she’d nearly miss almost all the time and never really hit Vinson with any impact. Vinson, however, had the crowd on their feet cheering several times as the sound of her gloves connected with Thompson’s face.

After several soft kicks to Thompson’s legs, Vinson went in for the kill and unleashed a dozen hits to the head, left and right, one right after the other, ending the fight with Thompson on the mat. Vinson emerged as the new bantamweight world champion, moving on with a record of 9-4.

Select fights from Saturday’s event will air next Friday, Aug. 23, at 8 ET/5 PT on beIN SPORTS USA.

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Email: apinckney@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews 

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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