The 43-year-old ex-pro-wrestler was dazed by a series of quick right hands from Lucero, who stepped into the main event of CES MMA “Real Pain” on seven days’ notice in place of Bautista’s original opponent, Rashid Evans.
After a few minutes spent pressed against the cage, however, Bautista created some space and brought the 300-pound Lucero to the ground. Bautista worked for a rear-naked choke but couldn’t get the submission and instead settled for a steady stream of punches from back-mount. With Lucero unable to escape and offering nothing in return, referee Dan Miragliotta stepped in to call a halt to the bout at 4:05 of the opening round.
The big men barked at one another as they were separated but shook hands before the official result was read. Afterward, Bautista admitted that he was stunned by the early offense of Lucero, a heavy underdog with just two wins in his last 13 fights.
“He hits like a f--king horse,” said Bautista, who trained for the bout with the likes of Stephan Bonnar and Alex Schoenauer. “He rocked me and I couldn’t feel my legs under me coming out. I was just so nervous, and it took me a little bit to get my composure.
“I want to fight again, for sure. I was just so nervous. I had so many butterflies coming out.”
Nine-time UFC veteran David Loiseau also had to work through an early upset attempt, his coming in the form of a guillotine choke from South Carolina’s Chris McNally.
After having his back taken and shaking McNally off, Loiseau wasted no time in punishing his less experienced opponent with slicing elbows from the guard. When the strikes opened a cut McNally’s face, the cageside physician needed only a brief look before advising ref Kevin MacDonald to stop the bout at 2:30 of the first frame.
“For personal reasons, I stopped throwing elbows for years,” Loiseau said after the bout, “but the people asked for elbows, so I brought the peoples’ elbows back.”
Another UFC vet, John “Doomsday” Howard, left his mark on Georgian Brett Chism. Having damaged Chism’s left eye with punches in the close opening period, Howard targeted his opponent’s severely swollen face on the mat in round two. With the eye swelling rapidly and Chism covering up under fire from Howard’s ground-and-pound, referee Keith Peterson waved the bout off at 3:31 of the second.
Middleweight Chandler Holderness made the most of an opportunity when his swing bout with local favorite Todd Chattelle wound up in the show’s co-main event slot. The Boston-based Colorado native charged across the cage and blitzed Chattelle with a flying knee to the body, then pulled guard and swept to top position. After about 20 unanswered elbow strikes, referee MacDonald stepped in to rescue Chattelle from further damage after just 27 seconds.
At featherweight, “Boston Finisher” Calvin Kattar couldn’t live up to his nickname, but did make good on his reputation as one of the region’s top 145-pound prospects. The Methuen, Mass., native showed good takedown defense as well as takedowns against onetime Bellator signee Saul Almeida in their 15-minute affair. Kattar came close to tapping the ground specialist with a late armbar, but eventually settled for scores of 30-27 from judges David Ginsberg and Pat Avery, and 29-28 from Mike Cordeiro. The win moved Kattar’s record to 13-2, while Almeida dropped to 12-3 with his second consecutive loss.
CES mainstay and Rhode Island native Mike Campbell earned a commanding unanimous decision over Philadelphia’s Gemiyale Adkins. Campbell kept the stockier Adkins at bay with long punches and leg kicks through the opening 10 minutes, though “Baby Hercules” was able to connect with occasional right hands. Campbell’s best work came in the final frame, when he dropped Adkins with a jab, scored a huge suplex and nearly finished with a rear-naked choke before time ran out. All three judges -- Avery, Ginsberg and Wayne Lima -- saw the bout 30-27 for Campbell, who has won four of six under the CES banner.
In other action, Cranston, R.I., lightweight Luis Felix upset “The Ultimate Fighter” alumni Marc Stevens in a three-round unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) and hometown light heavyweight Greg Rebello tapped Utah’s Chris Guillen with a rear-naked choke at 2:26 of the opening round.