Strikeforce Challengers 15 Prelims: Escalante Taps Sandoval

By Jason Probst Apr 2, 2011
J. Sherwood

Escalante (front) caught Sandoval.
STOCKTON, Calif. -- Team Stockton representative Robert Escalante received a partisan roar from the hometown crowd upon entering his Strikeforce debut against Team Alpha Male’s Raul Sandoval. The support served him well.

Escalante submitted Sandoval with a first-round armbar in a preliminary bantamweight bout at Strikeforce Challengers 15 “Wilcox vs. Damm” on Friday at the Stockton Arena. The finish came 4:10 into round one, as Escalante won for the second time in three starts.

Sandoval threw an early range-finding punch and then scored a takedown, only to be quickly reversed. He then dropped into a guillotine choke attempt -- a Team Alpha Male trademark move. Escalante fought gamely out of it, eliciting huge response from the onlookers, as he secured mount against the cage and landed occasional shots. Sandoval escaped the mount and dropped for another guillotine, only to have Escalante battle out.

Escalante later set up a standing choke attempt and landed a knee before his man escaped, with Sandoval delivering a borderline knee to the groin. They then spent a long stretch with Escalante battling for a standing kimura. Unable to secure it, he was dumped to the mat once more. However, Escalante was not done. Working from guard close to the cage, he set up the armbar, landing it for the verbal submission.

Jeff Sherwood

Carillo (left) tapped Antolin out.
Meanwhile, Anthony Avila, of Team Alpha Male, was introduced to boos from the crowd. It was decidedly pro-Rafael Rios, who represented Team Stockton.

In a tepid three-rounder with spurts of action intermingled with audible displeasure from the audience, Avila took a unanimous decision -- 30-27 on all three cards. Scoring numerous takedowns, he used better movement and superior striking to take his third straight victory.

After an opening round in which he scored a couple of takedowns off clinches, Rios seemed to gauge that he had the better wrestling and mixed that in with better standup, landing a head kick for effect. Neither fighter was in serious jeopardy during the bout, with Avila dictating the pace as Rios tired down the stretch.

Elsewhere, Tristan Arenal and Tom Peterson opened their lightweight affair with a brief feeling-out process, until Arsenal exploded with a powerful right hand and dropped his man. Arsenal pounced, worked from top position and rained down hammerfists, as a bloodied Peterson struggled to survive. Arsenal then obtained mount and cinched a nice armbar for the submission 1:58 into round one.

In a battle between flyweight hopefuls, Ronald Carillo submitted Adam Antolin with a rear-naked choke 1:48 into the first round.

A good right hand by Carillo in the opening minute was answered by a hard Antolin body kick moments later. Carillo took the back standing after a lengthy struggle and, with his back to the cage, secured the rear-naked choke for the finish. Antolin collapsed to the mat and tapped out.
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