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Victoria fighters battle to the end (w/gallery)

By Julie Garcia
Jan. 4, 2014 at 10:05 p.m.
Updated Jan. 4, 2014 at 7:05 p.m.

Kody Perez, top, puts Jay Martinez, bottom, in a choke hold during an MMA fight at the Victoria Community Center in Victoria.

READ MORE:Original Ultimate Fighter returns to his home away from home

Victoria fighter Evan Ellerbe wasn't expecting 23-year-old Jordan Holley to come into the cage Saturday night as hard and fast as he did.

The pair of fighters are both from Victoria and both made their amateur mixed martial arts debut at the Texas Rage in the Cage at Victoria Community Center.

As the sixth fight and co-event of the evening, Ellerbe was victorious by split decision after three rounds of grappling with Holley.

After the fight, the member of Team Zeus (a team out of Flex Fitness in Victoria) admitted that he was exhausted.

"It just shows me that I need to work on my cardio more," Ellerbe, 26, said as his coaches were cutting the tape from his hands and wrists.

Unlike most of the fights, this showdown lasted an entire three rounds and was decided by the officials. The other bouts, especially the first two, lasted less than two minutes with quick knockouts to finish them.

At 155 pounds, Holley looks like a regular guy in a hooded sweatshirt and jeans. His favorite things outside of the octagon include hanging out and jamming to music.

Holley, 23, began studying martial arts when he was 7 and began kickboxing as a teenager. He trains at Victoria Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Victoria.

"Once I got into jiu-jitsu, I started thinking about MMA and thinking about the UFC," Holley said. "I try to get better to see if I could succeed there. It's kind of the next step of evolution for me."

Unlike Holley, Ellerbe began fighting less than two years ago. He said he fought asthma as a child and was introduced to weight lifting early on.

Without a background in martial arts like many of his current and future opponents, Ellerbe could stand at a disadvantage.

But if his debut is any indicator, he doesn't have much to worry about.

Longtime Ultimate Fighter Diego Sanchez hosted the event and gave the local fighters an opportunity to get tips from the professional.

"It's good to see people who have already succeeded in the sport," Holley said.

One much-anticipated rematch between Jacob Rodriguez and Leroy Sanchez had to be canceled Friday night because of Sanchez was over the weight limit.

"I put a lot of hard work, a lot of months of training, and for him to not show up - it sucks," Rodriguez, 20, said.

However, Rodriguez sat in the crowd and cheered on Strength Within Martial Arts teammate Kody Perez. Perez won his fight against Jay Martinez in the third round by knockout.

With the next Rage in the Cage event scheduled for the summer, Rodriguez is happy with the amount of people who support MMA in Victoria.

"Victoria has the best fans; I've been to shows in San Antonio and Houston, and we have better fans than anywhere else," he said.

Port Lavaca fighter Luke Smith fought in the main event at the end of the night. He lost to Salvador Gonzalez because of a technical knockout after a sharp hit in the nose.

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