INGLEWOOD – One mixed-martial-arts career got off to a smashing start on Sunday night, while another took a stunning turn.
Muay Thai kickboxing champion Jemyma Betrian, training out of Glendale Fighting Club, was absolutely sensational in winning her professional MMA debut at Lights Out Promotions Chaos at the Casino 5, knocking out Hadley Griffith in 47 seconds.
However, GFC teammate Marina Shafir's budding career took on its first loss, as Amanda Bell knocked Shafir out in 37 seconds, shocking and silencing the crowd at Hollywood Park and Casino.
Shafir (1-1), who trains alongside UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey and UFC fighters Shayna Baszler and Jessamyn Duke, was dealt a flurry of huge blows, the first a left hook that buckled her, with Shafir dipping down with her hands on the canvas before bouncing up and taking a barrage of rights that put her on her back. Bell stood over the floored Shafir and landed a savage right, appearing to wake her back up, and another emphatic right from Bell (2-2) with Shafir on her back brought about the intervention of referee "Big" John McCarthy and finished the fight.
The bout was the final of four on the night with local fighters, as GFC's Vardan Sholinian improved to 3-1 with what was likely his most impressive performance yet, winning a unanimous decision over Mike Frear (6-3). Heavyweight Arsen Galstyan, training out of Main Event Gym in Glendale, fell to 2-3 when he was stopped in the second round by Joe Hernandez (6-2).
Locally, the night's biggest highlight was easily the debut and devastation delivered by Betrian.
"I'm very happy," Betrian said. "I did training only two months for the fight. For me, I'm very happy. I'm proud of myself."
Betrian's biggest obstacle was likely in the lead-up to the bout given her decorated muay Thai kickboxing background and that she trains at the GFC alongside its stable of big-name female fighters.
"I was very nervous," Betrian said. "Because everything is new for me and everybody expects a lot of me because of the muay Thai."
Betrian was flatout spectacular and borderline spotless.
Betrian didn't take a significant shot and delivered her share and then some, establishing her range and ferocity with a left hook to open the fight. She then began opening with spot-on one-two combos, delivering them in succession against the cage, rocking Griffith back with a savage kick to the chest before delivering a phenomenal left hook that crumpled Griffith. Betrian paused a moment and then unleashed follow-up punches before referee Mike Beltran intervened.
"When she went down, I stopped because in kickboxing, there's a count, then [my corner was] yelling keep going," Betrian said.
Betrian was making her MMA debut with a fair amount of fanfare as she's the WBC Muay Thai Kickboxing champion, sporting a 35-2-1 record as well as a 3-0 boxing mark. The 23-year-old Holland native, dubbed "The Golden Girl," will concentrate on mixed martial arts going forward, though.
"I'm gonna focus on MMA, because I have a lot to learn," she said. "I have to learn a lot more."
Though Bell and Shafir fought third-to-last on the card, it was clearly the featured attraction and Shafir's loss clearly deflated the crowd.
"I just came out with the intention to finish the fight as fast as I can," Bell said in the cage after the bout. "I wanted this more than anything."
Bell let Shafir stalk across the cage before firing off rights and lefts, though none landed well. It backed up Shafir, but she fired back and landed some shots and eventually went for a clinch, but Bell fended it off and as the two exchanged again, leading to the finishing flurry, as Bell caught Shafir and dropped her. Bell followed up immediately on a dazed Shafir and landed solidly again and then emphatically to end the bout.
Shafir had built a 5-0 amateur record and was 1-0 professionally with all six combined victories coming via first-round submission. Some likely judged Bell incorrectly given her losing record coming in, but she was 6-1 as an amateur with a win over Duke and her only loss at the hands of the very highly-regarded Taylor Stratford. Bell lost her professional debut to Tamikka Brents (2-1 professionally and 8-0-1 as an amateur) before falling against Charmaine Tweet, a notable veteran who's fought Rousey, and then picked up her first career win in April.
The first local to take the cage, Sholinian, wasted little time in going to work against Frear in a dominating effort, taking all three judges' scorecards, 30-27, as he was in control for just about every second of the bout.
In the opening seconds, Sholinian landed a splendid right cross and transitioned to a takedown. Sholinian controlled the rest of the round on the ground despite Frear's very active bottom game, as submission attempts were thwarted by Sholinian.
In the second round, Sholinian secured a single leg, then worked a double for an almost immediate takedown and stayed in control for the entire round despite Frear's best efforts.
Sholinian looked content to stand up early in the third, but Frear slipped and fell and Sholinian pounced. Sholinian let Frear up shortly thereafter and the two began exchanging with Sholinian landing a solid left hook that stunned Frear who windmilled in, appearing to want to be taken down, which Sholinian obliged. Sholinian dominated the rest of the way on top, delivering some steady ground and pound.
From the outset of the night's first heavyweight bout, Galstyan established a counter left hook as his most formidable weapon. He landed it well early and landed it emphatically later on, sending Hernandez to the canvas and almost putting him out, while bloodying him under the right eye. Galstyan followed to the ground and didn't land much and Hernandez worked back up and ate a barrage of rights and lefts, but stayed standing. Galstyan appeared to tire and couldn't finish, but likely won the round 10-8.
In the second round, a noticeably fatigued Galstyan fell to the canvas and Hernandez pounced on the ground before firing off shots standing back up against the cage. Firing off straight lefts and rights with Galstyan against the cage, Hernandez got the win when official Larry Landless jumped in to stop the bout at the 1:22 mark of the stanza.
Opening the card, Ruben Warr improved to 3-3 with a unanimous decision over Jordan Isordia (2-3) in featherweight action. Jay Bogan then won his featherweight bout against Marcos Bonilla (0-1) with a first-round submission via torso stretch.
Following Sholinian's win, Christopher Fajardo and Paul Amaro put on an action-packed fight that saw Fajardo stop Amaro in the third round via referee stoppage following a barrage of punches against the cage. Fajardo improved to 3-0 in the bantamweight tilt, with Amaro falling to 3-2.
In a 160-pound catch weight battle, Thor Skancke improved to 5-4 when he finished a bloodied Matt Hagge (0-4) at the 13-second mark of the third round with strikes.
In the co-main event, former UFC veteran Chase Gormley stopped Tony Lopez in the third round when the ref intervened due to a leg injury. Gormley improved to 6-4, while Lopez fell to 32-14.