2014 State Championship Finals Recap

CAMO State Championships 2014

J.D. Zelman



On Friday, December 12th, 2014; the California Amateur Mixed Martial Arts Organization held its annual championship card which featured 16 of California’s best amateur fighters in each of its weight divisions.


The event, held in Fresno, California’s Valdez Hall, was hosted by 559 Fights, one of the premier amateur promotions located in the heart of San Joaquin Valley in central California. The card featured a total of 14 fights, with 8 main-card bouts deciding who would be this year’s CAMO Champion in each of its ranked weight classes: Flyweight, Bantamweight, Featherweight, Lightweight, Welterweight, Light Heavyweight, Cruiserweight, and Heavyweight; with the Middleweight bout postponed. 


559 Fights also featured some of its best fighters from central California in the undercard, with some great battles in the cage including an exciting ground and pound TKO finish from welterweight Dustin Toby against a highly impressive Jason Frost, a hard-fought guillotine choke victory by Fresno native Joseph Garcia, and a very intense battle between two central California middleweights Victor Rico and Daniel Manriques; the latter of which managed to squeak-by with a split decision after a very exciting back-and-forth match filled with big hits and impressive technical groundwork.


The first fight of the main championship card featured two of the state’s top heavyweights, both of whom hail from southern California: Cardiff’s Scott Steele and Sergio Marroquin of North Hollywood. While Marroquin was technically ranked higher than Steele from the get-go; it was Steele who ended up trucking through Marroquin, and claiming the heavyweight title after a very one-sided beating in the first round, and an early second round finish with a Kimura from the half-guard of an exhausted Marroquin.


Competing for the state welterweight title was a tough and tenacious Garrett Marks of Sacramento versus the number 1 ranked Alexander Lopez of Salinas, CA. While Marks looked very impressive at the start, Lopez managed to pick his shots correctly and completely battered Marks in the second and third round.  Despite his incredible heart and toughness, CAMO referee Kane Vandal was forced to put a stop to the fight to keep the bruised and bloodied Marks from taking any more damage; earning the welterweight title for Lopez with a TKO victory in the 3rd round.


For the cruiserweight title, it was the highly ranked Michael Quintero versus Tyler Smith, an impressive standup fighter out of Huntington Beach, who were next to step in the cage. While it was Quintero who had a great first round, Smith managed a massive uppercut that dropped the Pico Rivera native in the second; forcing him to try to slowly recover from his back on the ground. Finally, after an incredible third round filled with action from both sides, it was Quintero who came out on top after the judges unanimously decided his aggression and control in the first and third round was enough to secure him the belt over a very impressive Smith.


Using dominant ground game early, it was “The Bosnian Bomber” JJ Okanovich who made quick work of opponent Javier Garcia in the lightweight title match. Just after the 1 minute mark, Okanovich managed to secure a full rear mount complete with body-triangle, and worked in a very tight rear naked choke. Garcia, refusing to tap, eventually blacked out; securing the lightweight belt for Okanovich.


Next, in a highly anticipated meeting for the light heavyweight belt, the number 3 ranked Oscar Castro was pitted against the heavily talented Osman “Ozzie” Diaz in a classic NorCal versus SoCal matchup. Castro, a native of Stockton, has garnered accolades in Sacramento’s Titan’s Cage promotion; while Diaz, the former light heavyweight champion of the popular U of MMA promotion in Los Angeles has gained the attention of fight fans and promoters alike with only two losses against five wins in a promotion lauded for its depth of talent.


While the standup portion of the fight was almost completely dominated by Diaz, it was Castro who managed to take advantage of many of Diaz’s mistakes in the cage; especially on the ground. Despite a few submission attempts from Diaz on his back, Castro took his time grinding down his opponent with some very pinpoint ground and pound, and great control from the top. But in the end it was Diaz who came up the victor, managing a modified guillotine that proved to be too much for Castro in the third; securing the light heavyweight title for the Los Angeles native.


Boasting two incredibly experienced fighters; the bantamweight title bout featured Isaiah Batin-Gonzalez from Milpitas against Edgar Gonzalez of Orange County. While the more exciting moments of the fight were the accidental low blow to Batin-Gonzalez in the first round and the leg kicks and small flurries of punches from both sides in the second; it was Batin-Gonzalez who would take home the bantamweight belt after some very technical groundwork and completing an armbar in the third; forcing the referee to stop the fight.

Then, in what was easily and by-far considered to be the absolute fight-of-the-night, CAMO & 559 Fight’s Co-Main event of the evening proved to be a battle rarely seen even amongst the ranks of the highest levels of professional MMA competition. In this featherweight matchup, 559 Fight’s own featherweight champion, Luis Vargas of San Jose, was pitted against the undefeated U of MMA featherweight champion, Jacob “Lil’ Badger” Rosales of La Habra.

In what can only be described as a fight you would have had to see to believe, Vargas and Rosales put it all on the line to show who was indeed, the best in California. While the fight had some fantastic standup from both fighters, including some drastic blows from the clinch, and great tactical work against the cage from both sides, it was an incredible display of technical groundwork filled with reversals upon reversals, insane ground and pound from Vargas, and attacks from every opportunity from Rosales that dazzled spectators for a majority of the fight.


Rosales, who was incredibly methodical and tactical throughout the fight, utilized every angle he could find to submit or gain any advantage over Vargas whether on top, bottom, or otherwise; occasionally finding himself applying everything from the basic guillotine, to nearly synching up a highly advanced modified inverted triangle choke. But it was Vargas who was able to utilize some amazing submission defense and powerful counter-attacks from the top; often neutralizing Rosales, if not outright bullying him with his brutal ground and pound. In the end, it was Rosales who would come out the victor; as all three judges agreed that Rosales’s pace, technicality, and advancement no matter the position was worthy of the title over Vargas’s seemingly insurmountable stamina and ferocity in what will be sure to be lauded as one of CAMO’s greatest championship fights.


Finally, in the main event of the evening, flyweights and 559 Fights veterans Eugene Cancino and Juan Carlos Garcia went toe-to-toe not only for the CAMO flyweight title, but for the 559 Fights championship as well. The undefeated 559 champion Cancino managed to come out strong against Garcia, but both fighters remained stagnant as the match quickly turned from fight to feigning match in an ultimately uneventful and anti-climactic bout. Cancino managed to take the win after going to the judges’ scorecards based off of what can only be assumed to be his slightly more aggressive pace during the course of the fight; securing himself a 559 title defense, and the CAMO flyweight championship belt.