INGLEWOOD – Supported by a who’s who of local fighters, backed by a zealous crowd and showcasing a devastatingly diverse striking offense, Edmond Tarverdyan battered and bloodied Dominic Gutierrez for three rounds en route to a unanimous decision win in their mixed-martial-arts bout late Saturday night at “Chaos at the Casino II” at the Hollywood Park and Casino.
Tarverdyan wasn’t the only local to claim victory, as Glendale Fighting Club boxer Gapo Tolmajyan and muay Thai kickboxer Sevak Ohanjanyan were victorious, as was Damien Marzett, who is coached by Burbank Gracie Barra’s Alberto Crane and was making his MMA debut.
However, there was an air of disappointment to the night, locally speaking, as Rob Gooch of Burbank Gracie Barra was stopped in the first round, Crane’s scheduled bout was canceled when he wasn’t medically cleared to compete and Tarverdyan was not at all pleased with his performance.
“I put in my head that I should stop him with one punch,” said the noticeably dejected Tarverdyan. “That was my mistake.”
Tarverdyan, who was cornered by Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey and UFC featherweight Manny Gamburyan for his lightweight (155 pounds) bout, improved to 2-0 in his MMA career.
“I’m very, very proud of him,” said Rousey in a postfight in-ring interview.
Looking to become the first fighter to stop Gutierrez (4-17) via technical knockout or knockout, Tarverdyan came close in the second round and even closer in the third round.
In the opening round, Tarverdyan worked in some leg kicks and began landing big punches to the body, an approach he exhibited throughout much of the fight.
“I was trying to get him to drop his hands,” said Tarverdyan, the owner of the Glendale Fighting Club, where he trains the likes of Rousey, Gamburyan, Tolmajyan, Ohanjanyan and undefeated boxer Art Hovhannisyan.
Still, Gutierrez landed a few shots of his own in the first, which looked to only anger Tarverdyan, who just missed on a spinning back kick that got Gutierrez in the back.
Having made his way to the ring with an entourage of Rousey, Gamburyan, wrestling coach Andy Dermenjyan, Hovhannisyan, Tolmajyan and Ohanjanyan, Tarverdyan was also bolstered by resounding chants of ED-MUND, that began in the first round and carried on throughout portions of the bout.
In the second round, though, Tarverdyan began to put things together, first with a crisp 1-2 combo, then with a big uppercut to the body followed immediately by a kick to the body. Seconds later, Tarverdyan landed a beautiful counter right to the chin that staggered Gutierrez and sent him against the middle rope. Tarverdyan followed with a barrage of punches, but couldn’t put the game journeyman away.
In the final round, Tarverdyan stalked Gutierrez throughout, dropping his bloodied foe three times, with some devastating standing knees serving as the most telling blows, but certainly not the only ones, as Tarverdyan, a former muay Thai champion, delivered head kicks, straights to the face and uppercuts to the body. The News-Press scored it a 10-8 round and the fight 30-26, but Tarverdyan received three 30-27 scores from the judges.
“He did have a helluva chin,” Tarverdyan said. “I caught him with everything.”
While Tarverdyan’s bout was the main event, the Crane-cornered Gooch was in the last bout of the night against Max Ceniceros, but tapped out 49 seconds into the first round to a guillotine choke. Gooch was dropped by a right-left hook combo seconds in and Ceniceros dropped down for the guillotine, which Gooch fought gallantly, even slamming Ceniceros, but couldn’t break free.
Crane’s fight was called off the night prior when he did not pass his prefight medicals due to an issue with an “MRI of my head,” Crane said. The Glendale resident said he was going to be “OK,” however, and was likely to fight again.
The card was a mix of muay Thai, boxing and MMA, beginning with four muay Thai matches, before three boxing bouts and finally four MMA fights.
Ohanjanyan began the night in impressive style, returning to the ring for the first time in three years and dominating Eric Rodriguez for two rounds before referee Nelson Hamilton put a stop to the muay Thai bout 31 seconds into the third and final frame.
“I thought about fighting no more, but Ed [Tarverdyan] told me to do this, I said OK,” said Ohanjanyan, who improved his amateur record to 6-1 with the TKO over Rodriguez (2-2). “I could’ve taken him out sooner. I was rushing.”
Ohanjanyan wasted no time, landing an overhand right seconds into the fight and transitioning into the clinch where he landed knees to the body before a barrage of winging lefts and rights. The same arsenal worked throughout much of the bout.