Local fighters show their stuff at Cage Raiser

Tanner Ellenberger of Paonia, left, staggers backward after Juan Magana of Glenwood Springs connected with a kick to the head in the first round of the first fight Saturday night during a benefit for Impact Boxing Gym at Two Rivers Convention Center. Magana won by technical knockout.

Plenty of factors go into getting the right mixed martial arts fight.

No one knows that more than Josh Kissel.

Saturday at Two Rivers Convention Center, the 22-year-old Grand Junction MMA fighter got an opportunity to fight in front of his hometown crowd at CageRaiser, a mixed martial arts event to benefit Impact Boxing Gym.

“I’ve had trouble finding fights,” Kissel said. “It’s hard to find the right kind of fighter with the experience. The last time I tried to fight in town, the weight class got all mixed up and the guy showed up 12 pounds heavy.”

Everything came together for the 130-pound Kissel, who took on Guy Love of Montrose.

Kissel ended the fight in the first round, winning by submission after he caught Love in an armbar.

The win improved Kissel’s amateur record to 12-6.

“I was trying to go with the flow and take whatever he was going to give me,” Kissel said. “Whatever he left open for me I was going to take it. I’ve worked a lot on my jiujitsu and he left the armbar open.”

Kissel grew up wrestling and graduated from Rangely High School. He’s been fighting for nearly two years, and said the biggest challenge to stepping in the cage is overcoming emotions.

“You always have to battle your nerves,” Kissel said. “It comes down to if you are going to let your body overcome your mind or your mind overcome your body.”

Kissel plans to turn professional before the end of the year.

“I think I’m ready, I’ve fought a lot of tough guys,” Kissel said. “I have the experience and it’s time to make the jump.”

Kissel wasn’t the only local fighter getting to fight in front of the home crowd.

Brandon Crispen had the second fight of the night and defeated Billy Martin by technical knockout in the first round.

“My ground game has always been there,” Crispen said. “Once I got him on his back I was able to take control from there.”

Crispen graduated from Palisade in 2006, where he wrestled for the Bulldogs. Now fighting at 170 pounds, Crispen improved to 3-1.

Crispen has been fighting for a year, and said it was the first time he got to fight in front of a large crowd.

“The crowd really pumped me up,” Crispen said.

Other highlights from Saturday’s fights included Grand Junction’s Angelo Archuleta surviving a battle with Glenwood Springs’ Dan Hudak.

Archuleta, 154 pounds, took a slew of punches in the first round, but made it to the bell. In the second round, Archuleta looked like a different fighter working his way into a choke and getting Hudak to submit.

Grand Junction’s Zach Harvey scored one of the most impressive wins with a technical knockout of Matt McOmie in only 18 seconds in the first round.

Jeff Barney of Grand Junction won a kickboxing match against Eugene Coulston by first-round TKO.

In the main event, local favorite Logan Hancock gave the fans exactly what they were looking for, landing repetitive big blows to his opponent, John Ross. Hancock won by TKO in 1:15 of the first round.

Three fights had to be canceled because of prefight injuries, including Grand Junction’s Mike Smith’s bout against John Sargent. Sargent was unable to fight.

Another CageRaiser event is scheduled for late summer.


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