Rage in the cage

Hard-hitting and technical grappling. Knockouts and tap outs. There was a little something for everyone Saturday night at the Seneca County Fairgrounds.

For Upper Sandusky’s Kaleb Raymond, there was a little something extra – a brand new title belt.

Fullbore Xtreme Cagefighting put on its third show Saturday night. An action-packed night of amateur fighting was highlighted by Raymond winning the FXC heavyweight title after making Bobby Alford of Tiffin submit to an armbar 2:16 into the second round.

“It feels amazing,” Raymond said while wearing the golden belt around his waist. “I can’t believe all the hard work I put in the last month or two has paid off. I’m very proud.”

Raymond, who upped his amateur record to 2-1, took control of the previously unbeaten Alford from the beginning of their fight, taking him down early and keeping control for the majority of the three-minute round. When the second round began, Raymond charged Alford, again taking him down and took advantage of what he saw as some fatigue in his opponent to eventually score the tap-out win.

“My game plan was to get him on the ground, because I know he’s a good striker,” Raymond said. “It worked out to my advantage. I got him on the ground, I controlled him on the ground for the most part. We got in scrambles and I just worked harder to get back on him.

“Defintiely that second round I got into him really fast. I knew he was tired too. I was hoping to catch him off guard … I planned that armbar out from the first round from when I had him in the mount (position). Like ‘I know it’s here, wait till he’s tired.’ And I hit it.”

Raymond, a 2011 Upper Sandusky graduate, wrestled through high school, before a mistake cost him a chance to make it to state. Mixed Martial Arts may seem to be more of a natural fit for him.

“I wrestled in high school. Senior year, I got disqualified in my league match cause I punched a kid,” he said. “It’s probably right up my alley right here. I would’ve probably been a state placer, but lost my cool. But, you know what? I can do it here. I can beat the living pulp out of someone if I wanted to.”

Raymond was one of three Upper Sandusky products walking away victorious Saturday night. During a virually non-stop 90 seconds of fighting, Felix Salinas took down Anthony Diaz of Carey several times before finally locking in a rear naked choke to force a tap out.

Aaron Webster stepped into the cage for his first fight Saturday night, but looked like a seasoned veteran. Within seconds he slammed Findlay’s Ben Thomas to the mat and never lost control. After landing a series of strikes, Webster was able to lock in an armbar. Thomas tried to fight it off as long as he could but was eventually forced to tap.

“I didn’t really know the kid going in, didn’t know anything he did, but I’m a big wrestler and he came at me so I took him down,” Webster said. “After I full-mounted, most people stick their arm in your face. When they do that, you just switch to the armbar. I thought he’d tap way before. I felt things popping in his arm and he wasn’t tapping.”

Webster, a ’09 Upper Sandusky grad, said he’s looking to build off this first win, and keep moving up in the sport.

“I’m just going to keep going up. Want to get another couple fights then I want to fight for a title sooner or later,” he said.

One Upper Sandusky product who wasn’t as fortunate was Kohl Johnson. Johnson fought a back-and-forth battle with Fremont’s John Binder. Johnson controlled the early portion of the fight taking down Binder several times, but wasn’t able to put Binder away. Binder eventually was able to catch Johnson on his back and lock in a rear naked choke and Johnson was forced to tap.

Binder’s win was one of two for the family on the night, as cousin Tony scored a win in dominant fashion over Nick Gabel. Binder spent two full rounds landing punch after punch against Gabel, but was unable to put the Celina native away. Finally, 28 seconds into the third round, the referee stepped in giving Binder the TKO win.

“I get pretty amped up and I usually try to go full blast,” Binder said. “I have a hard time being patient, but that’s what a cornermans for. I had a really good cornerman in Gary Young. He noticed I was rushing things a little bit and he got me to kind of slow down and pace myself and let it come because, usually when you go hunting for the kill, you end up getting killed.”

For Binder, his success was built from his preparation.

“I felt really good; I felt prepared,” he said. “I’m very blessed to have a lot of different training partners; I train at a lot of different gyms. I train with a lot of good trainers and good training partners, and it shows. It shows in your performance.”

Tony Binder moves to 3-3-1 and is in position to fight for a title before too long. He said he’s looking to pick up the necessary two more victories before eventually turning pro. But he’s also glad to see the success his cousin had endured after recently picking up the sport.

“He just started fighting about a year ago. It’s one of those things, not to be clich, but MMA has done him a lot of good. It put his life in a positive direction and it showed tonight,” Tony said.

The fight of the night though may have come from Port Clinton’s Brandon Weber and Tiffin’s Alan Huffman.

Huffman spent nearly the entire first round of their fight unleashing a barrage of strikes at Weber, but was unable to put him away. Weber was able to weather Huffman’s storm before turning the fight in his favor.

In the closing seconds of the round, Weber swept Huffman to the mat and locked in a rear naked choke that only the horn ending the round was able to break.

“I work the ground a lot,” Weber said. “I felt my stand-up was pretty good, but he’s pretty good and had some power on him. I just had to keep my head in there and keep going after it.”

Roles were reversed in the second round as it was Weber who took the early offensive. He kept Huffman from utilizing the stand-up boxing-style of fighting that was effective for him in the first round by getting in close before again taking Huffman down to the mat. Weber got on top in the full-mount position and threw shot after shot at Huffman before the referee stopped the fight 1:24 into the second round.

“I made sure I got him on the ground,” Weber said as the key in the second round. “I got in the mount position and kept on throwing at his face till the ref said stop.”

FXC is targeting mid-September for its next show and is looking to put on a pro-am event, combining professional and amateur fights.

A number of Saturday’s winners will look to come back and keep moving up the rankings, while those who didn’t get their hand raised in victory will have the opportunity to get back in the gym and work hard to turn things around the next time out.

After all, it worked for Raymond.

“Last fight I lost, it set a fire under me,” the new FXC heavyweight champion said. “I came back stronger and better than ever I think. I won (the belt) now, I got to defend this every time now. There’s no backing down. Full-bore every time.”