STOCKTON — It took a few minutes, but Chris Quitiquit eventually found his long-lost confidence.
Well, it wasn’t necessarily lost. Tarped — it was tarped after a two-year layoff from any MMA fight anywhere.
And as the first fight on the main card of former MMA superstar Nick Diaz’s inaugural WAR promotion at the Stockton Arena Saturday Night, Quitiquit had something to prove — to the fans, to those that knew him best, to the promoter and friend that just hung up the gloves and gave him a chance to represent.
And 37 seconds into the second round, all of that went out the window when the ringside doctor stepped in and said that the cut below Quitiquit’s left eye — which immediately began to pour blood when he was struck — was too severe for him to continue.
Goodnight folks. Thanks for coming.
Well, at least if Quitiquit was the one you were there to watch.
It was the second time in as many years that he had a fight stopped because of a cut, and after the long road back he sat, visibly upset, at a locker in the bowels of the arena, alternating a white towel and an ice pack over a deep gash that required stitches.
“I have to quit getting cut like this,” he said, shaking his head. “It can’t keep happening.”
Quitiquit wasn’t the only Manteca fighter on the card, but the two that followed didn’t fare much better against a crop of quality fighters from throughout the area — ranging from Visalia all the way down to Orland.
But the lightweight Quitiquit came out light a spark plug and appeared to have the opportunity to give opponent Dominic Clarke a run for the prize money.
Until that cut opened up.
His friend and stablemate, Diaz, had similar problems early in his career but had a surgical procedure done that prevented his face from tearing - a remarkable feat considering the amount of punches that he would take a given fight.
Quitiquit didn’t say that he would consider plastic surgery, but only that he was on the way to the hospital and that he would pursue his career (he’s 5-3 with the TKO loss) one day at a time.
Clayton McKinney did a little shimmy as he made his way into the ring Friday night.
It was a nice compliment to the half-green hairdo that the Orland-based fighter was sporting, and showed that the former The Ultimate Fighter contestant had swagger even if he was going up against a hometown hero in Mike Persons.
And over the course of three five-minute rounds he channeled that swagger into a series of leg kicks, strikes and overwhelming strength that guaranteed unanimous decision — winning every round across the board and sending Persons, the Manteca fighter listed highest on the card, back to the locker room with a knee that swelled with every step.
“It didn’t really start bothering me until the third round,” Persons said. “The guy is a hog. I’m 29-years-old and if I want to get better as a fighter I have to start taking better fights. He got me with that inside kick and I couldn’t answer it. I was just glad that I held on.”
Persons got dropped early in the fight when a sweeping kick by McKinney caught him off balance in more ways than one — when he went to the ground he appeared to be caught between decided whether to get up or pull guard and go with the Gracie jiu-jitsu he’s known for.
They two traded blows for several rounds, but McKinney got a pair of takedowns and pushed the pace to give himself a solid lead against the local fighter.
An estimated 3,500 people paid to see Saturday’s fights — which were supposed to be streamed live on the internet for free. Donations were also accepted. The streaming service was down for the early portion of the night, although the main card was available for those watching at home.
After missing the previous day’s weigh-ins, Diaz made an appearance Saturday towards the end of the undercard — wearing his trademark jeans. Other notable fighters — such as Jake Shields, Nick’s brother Nate and Gilbert Melendez, were also in attendance.
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