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Mixed martial arts returns to Victoria (video)

April 20, 2012 at 11:05 p.m.
Updated April 20, 2012 at 11:21 p.m.

Corey Bellino, of Corpus Christi, enters the ring for the main event of Friday night's South Texas Fighting Championship event at the Victoria Community Center. Bellino defeated his opponent, Andre Kavanaugh, of Austin, by TKO in the second round.

Fighters from across Texas descended on Victoria in search of a paycheck and an opportunity to showcase mixed martial arts.

Friday marked the second time the area hosted a MMA event, but the first time all the fights featured professionals.

The fighters were professionals with varying degrees of experience. Promoter Raul Ramos said Victoria has a strong MMA community, but the local residents are mostly amateurs, which is why he didn't book anyone from this area for Friday.

Dallas resident Armando Servin won his first professional fight when he beat Josh Morgan in a unanimous decision.

"Whether it's amateur or the pro ranks, a win to me is a win. They are all great," Servin said. "It doesn't matter if it's pro or amateur. You should see the guys who fight amateur, they are professionals themselves. They are just called amateurs because they don't get paid."

The seven-card show, promoted by the South Texas Fighting Championships, took place at the Victoria Community Center.

Some, like the man Servin defeated, were making their debuts, others were trying to get a signature win to boost their career, while some like Corpus Christi's Corey Bellino (5-1) were trying to improve their stellar professional records.

Servin, 33, doesn't have a specific style. His goal is to exploit whatever weakness his opponent presented.

"My instructor and my training partners, they put me through hell, every day," Servin said. "The fight is pretty much heaven for me."

The fighters earned paychecks for their nine minutes of punishment, but most had careers outside the cage.

Servin works in telecommunications. Edinburg resident Joe Rodriguez, who won the fifth fight in a unanimous decision over Michael Little, is studying respiratory therapy at South Texas Community College.

Rodriguez, 28, improved to 3-2 with his win. He said Little, a former amateur champion, presented the biggest challenge of his career.

"The guy was tough and he took a beating," Rodriguez said of the biggest win of his career. "He did not give up. It was a tough match for me. . This was a big test. This man had more fights through amateur - he had about eight fights and I had four. He was very experienced and very tough. I guess I was the better man tonight."

Anthony Townsend, one of three judges for Friday's fights, said professional bouts typically have more intensity than the amateur competition Victoria residents were exposed to in September.

"When you're fighting as a professional you are trying to make a living," said Townsend, an Austin resident who has been a judge for eight years. "In the amateurs, you're trying to learn the sport and try to grow in it. As a professional you are fighting against someone trying to make a living, so they will be hungrier."



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