Yesterday was Valley Fight Series 6 in Reedley, California.
We had RJ Draper fighting in his 2nd amateur fight. It was a long night. RJ was fight #13 on the card and there were 4 grappling matches and 2 intermissions ahead of his fight as well. When it came fight time, RJ had a solid performance.
In the first round, RJ got his opponent down early and spent the entire round on top grounding & pounding. The beginning of the second round started a bit more rough when RJ's opponent landing a couple of good shots on RJ and giving him a nice hematoma on his head, but half way through the round RJ landed a takedown and landed a good ~30 heavy punches on the ground before the round ended. In the 3rd round, RJ's opponent came out very strong like he thought he was losing (note: this is how you should come out in the 3rd if you're not sure that you're winning). He threw heavy punches and a lot of kicks that were mostly blocked by RJ but had RJ 100% in defense mode. Around half way through the round, RJ lands a clean double-leg and ends the 3rd round much like the 2nd, except with a good half-dozen knees to the body to go with the punches.
Come decision time, we are pretty sure we have this fight in the bag when the announcer says there is a split decision. It turns out 2 of the 3 judges watching this fight have no clue what ground fighting is and gave the fight to RJ's opponent. At least one judge knew what they were looking at. A small consolation was that the crowd booed when they heard the decision and many of the fighters/coaches in the back told RJ that they thought he won.
In the end, RJ wasn't too down about it and is ready to get back in the gym to work on the holes we discovered in this fight. He put on a good performance for his 2nd fight and hopefully when he has his 3rd, everyone will see a next-level RJ.
One last thing worth noting. The VFS show — though having a few hiccups — was one of the most well-run amateur shows I have seen. From the constant updates to make sure fighters/corners know what is going on at all times, to the free food and drinks for fighters after both the weigh-ins and the fights, to the pretty nice hotel rooms they got for the fighters. They deserve a shout-out for trying to put on not just a good show for the fans but a good show for the fighters.