On Saturday, Fury Fighting Championship made its first foray outside of Texas, landing in Lake Charles, Louisiana, with Fury FC 34. While a series of main event changes may have left the card lacking some of Fury’s customary star power at the top, it delivered a rocket-fast night of fights, with only four of 11 bouts making it to the final horn and a wealth of eye-popping finishes.
In the headline fight, Louisiana prospect AJ Fletcher took on David Armas in a 165-pound catchweight affair. The 22-year-old Fletcher, who won his professional debut earlier this year after a lengthy stint on the amateur circuit, had his hands full with the veteran Armas, who came into the bout having won two of his last three. Fletcher was clearly the stronger man, and showed flashes of impressive athleticism with some vicious leg kicks and several cannonball double-leg takedowns. However, Armas had his moments as well, especially with his superior boxing, rocking Fletcher back on his heels several times in the second round. In the end, all three judges saw the fight 30-27 for Fletcher, who moves to 2-0, while Armas falls to 9-17.
The lightweight co-main event featured another Texas vs. Louisiana matchup on a night full of them, as Gracie Barra Texas export Charles Cheeks III squared off against Gracie United Team Jucao representative Josh Davila. Cheeks largely controlled the action throughout, establishing top control in all three rounds and navigating a variety of submission offense from within the very aggressive guard of Davila, including some rarely-seen kneebar and calf slicer attempts. Cheeks was successful in doing so, and was rewarded with a unanimous decision from the cageside judges. With the win, Cheeks goes to 14-7, with his only losses in the last three years coming at the hands of Legacy Fighting Alliance standouts Damon Jackson and Levi Mowles, while Davila drops to 9-19.
Joel Scott needed only 48 seconds to dispatch Clarence Brown in a bout that requires the use of quotation marks around the word “featherweight,” as Brown missed the lightweight limit by two pounds and the featherweight limit by a whopping 12. Whatever shortfall in motivation or fight readiness led Brown to miss weight by a full division did not improve once the cage door shut, as he was dropped by an early flurry of punches from “The Demon,” then tapped out in response to the ensuing ground-and-pound. The win sends Scott to 9-9 overall, but gives him three wins in his last four outings, while Brown is now 0-2 as a professional.
In the main card opener, Nicko Commissiong suffered a lopsided first round at the hands of Jordan Plutin Salgado, surviving most of five minutes eating ground strikes and defending submission attempts from the burly grappler. After the first frame, however, Commissiong took over, winning the second, then knocking out a tiring Plutin early in the third with a volley of unanswered punches on the floor. With the win, the 25-year-old Louisianan goes to 2-1 in his young professional career, while Plutin falls to 0-1.
On the all-amateur undercard, Josh Walker wiped out Jordan Smith in 48 seconds with punches and hammerfists from full mount; Josh Hayes took a split decision from Colin Richard that did not seem as close as the scorecards indicated; Shawn Ducre took only four seconds to fly across the cage and blast Carlos Nanez with a flying knee and follow-up punches for a sensational KO win; Christian Lepoutre picked up a DQ win with under a minute to go in a fight he was likely losing, as Elijah Quayhagen nailed him with a spinning back elbow (elbow strikes are illegal under Louisiana amateur rules); Larry Wallace finished Antoine Blakely with a rear-naked choke at 2:11 of the first round; Ross Abram stunned Bralan Jackson with a right hook, followed him to the ground and applied a rear-naked choke, eliciting the tap in just 59 seconds; and Carlos Munaretto took a three-round unanimous decision over Patrick Richard.
Fury’s first show outside its home state seems to be a sign of steady but cautious growth. The premier organization in Texas since the merger that created LFA and pulled its show on the road for many of its events, Fury has served as a springboard to national and international promotions for homegrown talents such as Juan Adams, Domingo Pilarte and Alex Morono. Meanwhile, the organization itself is making moves towards national prominence; it has already announced its intention to put on an event in Colorado in the fall, and Saturday’s debut show in Louisiana seemed to plant its own seeds for a return trip, as undercard victor Walker issued an in-cage callout to fellow quick finisher Ducre, who returned to the cage and readily accepted, predicting, “Maybe next time I’ll get the knockout in three seconds.”