A veteran of "The Ultimate Fighter 3," Nickels said that he hoped the win would put him on track to a UFC return. In his last Octagon appearance at UFC 73 nearly a year ago, Nickels fell to Stephan Bonnar (Pictures) with the same first-round maneuver he triumphed with tonight.
In another featured bout, former TUF competitor Noah Thomas (Pictures) submitted Brett Roller in a featherweight matchup. Early in the first round, Roller looked impressive, landing a variety of strikes and getting the fight to the ground where he executed an impressive slam. However, Thomas locked in a tight triangle choke that Roller appeared to tap out to. Referee Tim Mills did not step in to call the fight and the crowd booed wildly. In the second round, Thomas weathered another flurry of strikes to sink in a rear-naked choke and secure victory at 2:03.
The fight that stole the show was a lightweight slugfest between UFC veteran Luke Caudillo and Torrance Taylor. After a close first round, Taylor found his range early in the second by landing an assortment of strikes, which included elbows, knees, and spinning kicks. In the third, Caudillo immediately took the fight to the ground, but Taylor secured top position and then Caudillo's back. From there, Taylor secured a rear-naked choke and the bout ended at 3:10 into the third round.
In the lone female fight of the night, local favorite Cat Albert transitioned from the back to an armbar and forced her opponent Karina Taylor (Pictures) to tap out at 2:30 of the first round. At the post-fight press conference, Albert called out EliteXC superstar Gina Carano (Pictures), commenting if only "she'd make weight every once in a while."
Popular local welterweight Brandon Thatch continued his winning ways, dispatching Mike Crisman at 38 seconds of the first round with a flurry of punches and knees. With the win, Thatch takes the Ring of Fire "Young Guns" welterweight title in impressive fashion.
In other fights, Justin Salas caught Max Smith with a bomb in the first seconds of the fight then following up with a huge slam. He finished Smith with a rear-naked choke at 1:26 of round one.
In another ROF "Young Guns" title fight, local favorite Kenneth Seegrist won the middleweight title with a guillotine choke at 1:27 of the first round, while Brian Wood submitted Miguel Martinez in a featherweight bout by guillotine choke at 1:05 of the first round. In a technical ground fight, local light heavyweight Cody Donovan outclassed Weston Duschen and secured an armbar at 1:16 in the third round to force his opponent to tap.
In the lone heavyweight fight of the night, Jay Lester attempted to overwhelm Brendan Schaub in the bout's first moments, but was caught on the chin coming in. Schaub then attacked him on the ground, forcing the referee to stop the fight at 30 seconds of the first round.
In the fight to start the night, Sean Doherty submitted Dominick Blanco with an armbar from the bottom at 20 seconds into the first round.