Lost the girl, found career

Former Central wrestler Yates thriving in MMA

Alex Hayworth, top,  of GJ pounds Joe Leber of Delta resulting a unanimous win 29-28



Former Central High School wrestler Andrew “The Golden Boy” Yates didn’t have the grades to pursue a college wrestling career. He was too busy chasing girls.

But a girl who led him to Las Vegas also led him to Ultimate Fighting Championship star Wanderlei Silva’s gym and a new career.

“I followed a girl to Las Vegas, and she left me,” Yates said. “That made me rethink what I wanted to do. I found fighting.”

Yates beat Mark Nay of Utah by technical knockout in the second round at Cage Wars XIII at Colorado Mesa University on Saturday, putting the 23-year-old one step closer to a career in the UFC.

Now 6-0 in his pro career, Yates has generated buzz from Spike TV, which named him one of the top three unsigned fighters in the world. Yates says an offer isn’t far off.

“We’re just waiting for the right offer to come along (to get signed to the UFC),” Yates said. “We’re not looking for a three-fight deal; we want to get to the big time. At this point it’s the amount of fans. I need more fans to follow me on Twitter and more likes on my Facebook. The UFC is just like any other business, and I need to show I can make them money.”

Yates also needs to show his punching power, and a TKO didn’t help.

“I really wanted the knockout,” Yates said. “My coaches keep telling me, ‘Get a knockout,’ to show I have power, to show I’m well-rounded.”

In other pro fights, Grand Junction’s Brandon Crespin beat Chris Martin, who trains at the same gym as Yates, by unanimous decision in the co-main event at 170 pounds. In the 165-pound main event Grand Junction’s Zach Harvey beat Utah’s Carl Dieckmann with an arm-bar submission. Grand Junction’s Jason Brenton beat Wyoming fighter Billy Martin on a second-round TKO at 155.

In amateur fights:

■ Chantry West of Glenwood Springs won in less than 30 seconds at 170 pounds with the only knockout of the amateur card. West circled Grand Junction’s Felipe Soto twice before running directly at him, throwing almost a dozen punches as Soto crashed into the side of the cage.

■ Moab’s Kyle Gilje beat Paonia’s Pecas McClellan at 145 pounds, overcoming a sloppy first round for a second-round submission.

■ Former Palisade High School wrestler Alex Hayworth won the only amateur fight to go the distance, 29-28, over Delta’s Joe Leber. Hayworth opened a large cut over Leber’s right eye in the second round that almost stopped the fight.

“I felt like my wrestling career was too short, and this was the closest thing to it,” Hayworth said.

■ Grand Junction’s Casey Miller lost to Jared Houde of Wyoming by technical knockout at 170 pounds.

■ Grand Junction’s Dominic Martinez beat Montrose’s Alesio Velasquez at 135 pounds with a TKO early in the second round.

■ The intermission exhibition between Utah’s Mike Jones and Kyle Dunn of Grand Junction ended in a split decision.


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