Ronmy Davila didn't let a kidney stone and brown urine on Tuesday prevent him from showing up for his first true amateur MMA fight Saturday night. So, a one-inch cut over his left eye seemed like a small hurdle to clear.
After all, this was his fight, in his hometown, in the first sanctioned amateur MMA event in Manhattan in more than a decade.
"It actually woke me up," said the 22-year-old Dominican from the Bronx. “I’m glad it happened. It was a real eye-opener.”
Davila beat Fabian Llerena by split decision at Kings of New York at the Hammerstein Ballroom. Approximately 1,500 fans attended the event sponsored by Fighters Source and sanctioned by the USA MMA KI Federation.
Professional mixed martial arts remains illegal in New York, but amateur events are completely legal. They are also unregulated by the State Athletic Commission. This event was fully sanctioned, something promoter Anthony Medina said was crucial to him bringing his Miami-based Fighters Source fight series to the city.
“That’s the only way I really work,” said Medina, who was born in the Bronx and grew up in Shirley before moving to Florida in high school. “I can’t imagine an event without an EMT and doctor. That doesn’t make any sense to me.”
A doctor and two emergency medical technicians sat cageside and examined fighters who were cut or who lost by submission or technical knockout. All fighters were given a pre-fight medical exam Saturday evening and were required to submit other medical reports prior to then.
There are differences between amateur and pro MMA fights, and they can vary from state to state and event to event. For Kings of New York, fighters were not allowed to throw elbows or use forearm strikes. Knees to the head were also banned, as were body twisting submission attempts such as heel hooks. Fights were capped at three rounds with each round lasting three minutes. Pro MMA rounds last five minutes and championship fights and certain main events can go five rounds.
“The worst thing you can do is stomp on somebody’s foot,” said Frank Babcock, executive director of the USA MMA KI Federation. “Calling the fight, faster than you would call it in the pros, is crucial.”
In the third round of his fight, Davila was in position to attempt a heel hook but he knew he couldn’t. That didn’t stop fans in the crowd from yelling for it.
“I don’t mind certain rules,” he said. “It’s really not a big deal, you find other ways, you maneuver around it.”
Davila was one of 20 fighters on the card and one of the several from New York. Fighters came from Chicago, Philadelphia and Florida as well.
Medina said he was surprised a bit about the difficulty in finding local amateur fighters to be in the show.
“I guess because of all the unsurety of what really was going on because we came out of nowhere, the amount of fighters that I thought would show up didn’t show up,” Medina said. “Hopefully with this show, they’ll realize that this is real and they’ll show up.”
For every Jon Jones or Georges St-Pierre in the UFC, there's a Ronmy Davila out there, somewhere, fighting in some cage hoping to one day make it to the big time. Or at least to an event that comes with a paycheck for a night's work.
Davila called this his first "real" MMA fight. His first two bouts were during an amateur tournament at the World MMA Expo at Jacob Javits Center in February and he wore shin pads and headgear. He also had an amateur fight lined up in Philadelphia once but that fell through once he arrived.
His first fight came a few miles from his home. A simple subway ride to go back and forth. He returned to the Bronx with a second left eyebrow, the result of his cut suffered in the first round.
“I still live with my mother, and at the end of the day, she’s going to see this because she doesn’t even know I fought today, and she’s going to be like ‘How much did you get paid?’” Davila said. “And I’m going to have to tell her, unfortunately, nothing. What people don’t understand is that this is a sacrifice. It’s for a bigger opportunity later on."
KINGS OF NEW YORK FIGHT RESULTS
140 pounds: Diego Lopez submitted James Casserly by triangle choke in the first round.
145: Felix Perez stopped Kimson It by TKO in the second round.
155: Jose Mariscal beat Ethan Gomez by TKO in the final seconds of the first round.
155: Ronmy Davila won a split decision over Fabian Llerena.
135: Carlos Hernandez submitted Jefferey Balladares by rear naked choke in the third round.
145: Jose Torres won a unanimous decision over Jarel Marcalle.
110-pound women: Victoria Markarova won a unanimous decision in her first fight over Jody Lynn Reicher.
175 men: Angelo Rivera won by second-round TKO over Chris Miller.
170: Simmon Sarra submitted Matthew Perez by armbar in the first round.