Former San Diego Chargers star Shawne Merriman’s Lights Out Xtreme Fighting presented LXF 3 at the Commerce Casino on Saturday night, featuring a night of amateur and professional MMA action. Since I couldn’t get tickets to Guns N’ Roses at the Hollywood Palladium, I went to LXF 3. In this article, I talk about the fights and my experience at LXF 3.
LXF 3 was LXF’s first event at the Commerce Casino. LXF’s previous two shows took place in Burbank, CA at the Burbank Marriott Convention Center. The promotion’s predecessor, California Xtreme Fighting, also held events at the Burbank Marriott, as well as the Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City and Florentine Gardens in Hollywood.
I liked the area of the Commerce Casino where the event was held. Trying to find parking in the free lot was rough. Nearly every spot was taken. After several minutes, I made the crazy decision to valet park my car. I know some of you are freaked out by the idea of doing that, but I like to live on the edge. After dropping my car off, I headed inside, I met up with my good buddy Adam Woods. We spoke for a few moments and I headed out to meet with Bumps & Brewses promoter Mikey Freedom, who was with his father. We chatted for several moments and then headed to our seats as the first fight began.
The LXF D-League Fight
The first three bouts on the card were from the LXF “D-League.” These fights were amateur bouts held under CAMO rules. This meant fighters couldn’t throw certain strikes (elbows, knees) or use leg lock submissions. The rounds are also shorter. Amateur MMA rounds are usually 2 or 3 minutes in length, while professional fights are five-minute rounds. While the rounds are too short for amateur fighters to develop the ability to feel out their opponents, it usually makes for fan-friendly fights. Most fighters in the amateur ranks aren’t very experienced or have developed much technique, but a lot of them will put on an exciting fight for the audience. Oh, these fighters also don’t get paid to fight by promoters (on record at least).
The D-League is a great concept. Even though it is a different way of saying “amateur fights” when promoting, I like it. While calling them amateur fighters is appropriate given their level of fighting, it shows more respect to the fighters who bust their asses while working their way up to the professional level. On top of that, it’s a great way for LXF to develop future stars once the current crop of LXF pro fighters either move on to bigger promotions or fade away from the sport. It’s the circle of life in MMA.
The first and last of the D-League bouts ended with TKO finishes. In the opening bout of the night, Sean Sharaf climbed to 2-0 when he defeated Lorenzo Guzman after dominating him for two rounds. Guzman withstood a lot of punishment, but Sharaf was still too much for him. In a bout for the LXF D-League Bantamweight Championship, Jeremy Montijo was able to put away J.J. Buckner in the first round to become the first D-League Bantamweight Champion.
The other bout on the amateur portion featured former Chargers player Chris McCain against Matheus Moraes. It was the only amateur fight that went to a decision. It also saw McCain get up-kicked in ding-ding, resulting in a brief delay in the fight. After the fight went the distance, everyone I was watching the fight with thought Moraes won all three rounds. He seemed like he did from my vantage point, but the judges saw something else it seemed. McCain was declared the winner, which some people didn’t seem to mind.
While most of McCain’s supporters were happy, the people around me disagreed with the judges’ call. There was some thought that maybe a point was going to be taken from Moraes, but that wouldn’t have been enough to give the fight to McCain in our eyes. Some joked that Shawne Merriman rigged the fight, as the two had the Chargers’ connection. I highly doubt that is what happened though. MMA judges tend to be awful at scoring fights. Not to take away from McCain’s performance though. He showed the potential to be good someday, and he had some nice kicks. Given his athletic background, I think he could do well in MMA.
The Pro Fights
Following the D-League portion of the card, it was time for the pros. In the only women’s bout of the card, Brittney Cloudy faced Tiani Valle. Cloudy, who is a first-grade teacher, via submission in the first pro fight of the event. I wish my first-grade teacher was as cool as Brittney Cloudy.
Following that bout, former UFC fighter Albert “The Warrior” Morales defeated Ron Scolesdang via TKO late in the first round. This was a good win for Morales, who had a large number of supporters in the audience. Morales has dealt with a lot of career hurdles in recent years. Once a touted, undefeated regional prospect, Morales went 2-6-1 after joining with the UFC with a 6-0 record. At 28 years old, this was the type of win Morales needed to help build up some momentum in his career. If he can put together a few more wins, I could see him competing at a higher level again.
A lot of the people in the crowd were also there in support of Blake “Bulletproof” Troop, who was fighting Andrii Vasylenko for the LXF Light Heavyweight Championship. Troop is one of the most colorful personalities in the local MMA scene. He can often be seen sporting a gold chain with a grenade on it. He’s also been delving into the world of professional wrestling lately and has attended several local events. I was told that out of the 600-700 people in attendance, about 200 were there for Troop. People who purchased tickets through him were also given a free shirt, and there were a lot of Blake Troop shirts in the audience. This guy really knows how to promote his brand. Everyone involved in the pro wrestling business here in SoCal should take a look at Troop and his ability to market himself.
Unfortunately, many of Troop’s fans and supporters went home disappointed. While he had some good moments in the first round, Vasylenko was able to get a strong decision victory over Troop. The Hayastan MMA fighter from Ukraine looked very well rounded, as he looked great in the grappling and striking aspects of MMA. As I said, Troop had a good start to the fight. He also kept trying to get a win by fishing for submissions when he was on his back in the third round, but Vasylenko had a nearly flawless performance in this fight. Unlike major MMA promotions, title fights in LXF are only three rounds. While Vasylenko was in control of the fight at the end, I wondered if Troop would’ve been able to mount a comeback if things kept going.
After this fight, it was time for a series of first-round finishes. The events’ advertised main event of LXF 3 was Alfred Khashakyan vs. A.J. Bryant Jr. for the LXF Featherweight Championship. Khashakyan was very patient to start the fight and was looking for his openings before landing a flurry of punches on Bryant, and followed that with a jab-cross combo that got him a walk-off KO victory at 0:34 of Round 1. After the bout, Khashakyan was presented the LXF Featherweight title belt by former Los Angeles Laker A.C. Green. Following the advertised main event, the show went to a brief intermission as the doctor wasn’t at cageside before the start of the last two bouts. Around this portion of the event, most of the audience had left after seeing the fighters they came to support.
Following the main event of LXF 3, Serob “Gulo” Minasyan faced Sergio Quiñones Jr. The fight went longer than the main event, but it came to an end after Minasyan landed a huge looping left hook that dropped Quiñones. Minasyan followed that up with some ground and pound to make sure Quiñones was finished. After this fight, it was time for the final bout of the evening between Melsik Baghdasaryan and Arturo Hernandez. Baghdasaryan must’ve been eager to go home, as he wound up finishing Hernandez in a wild seven-second fight. By this point, the crowd seemed to be down to 200, Most of them seemed to be supporting Baghdasaryan based on their reaction.
While this was the first time I’ve been to an LXF event, it wasn’t my first experience at an event held by LXF figureheads/promoters Steven Bash and George Bastrmajyan. In 2015, I attended one of their Lights Out events at the Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City. When the promoters revived the California Xtreme Fighting brand in 2016, I caught as many events as possible and always found myself being entertained by the fights they promote. Despite the name change and rebranding, the quality of the fighting is almost the same.
The highlight of the show was Alfred Khashakyan’s walk-off knockout win over A.J. Bryant Jr. It was certainly the most impressive looking knockout on the show. Serob Minasyan’s knockout win over Sergio Quiñones Jr. was also very impressive. Andrii Vasylenko’s against Blake Troop was the strongest showing of the night. While he didn’t finish Troop, his performance was tremendous. None of the fights were boring. Despite the questionable Chris McCain decision, this was a great showing from LXF. I didn’t hear a date announced for their next event, but I hope they return to Burbank.
If you’re a fan of MMA, check out LXF. LXF events have been airing on Fox Sports West lately, so hopefully LXF 3 will be airing on it as well.