Arizona’s RUF MMA 36 Recap: Richard Hale and Dale Sopi Bang It Out

Hundreds of MMA fans crowded Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum at the Arizona State Fair on October 13th. The roars filled the coliseum as several amateurs and professionals stepped into the cage to fight.

The card included multiple fights including RUF MMA amateur and pro titles in nearly every class possible.

Eleven fights headlined the night and each fight had their own unique perspective. The amateurs started off the night with a variety of outcomes.

Matthew Daws vs. Jon Huber Amateur Welterweight Bout

Daws came in as a boxer while Huber had the wrestling background. The first match lasted all three rounds too. Huber started the first round dodging and parrying early punches from Daws. Huber lowered his level and followed through on two double legs that ended with two of his four takedowns of the match.

In the second round, a quick takedown from Huber almost went south as he was caught by Daws’s triangle. After lasting the second round, he stalled on top after his final takedown.

Huber hit the Saturday Night Ride to finish the match up to for the win.

Huber defeats Daws in a unanimous decision (30-27,30-27,30-27)

Ridge Harmon vs. Zach Stewart Amateur Featherweight Bout

Stewart came in as the fan-favorite with Zach chants swarming the coliseum. Stewart started hot with some nice kick placement, but Harmon bounced back quickly.

He landed multiple strikes from neutral and up top that ended this fight with a TKO in Round two. He was not pleased with the performance but he finished with the win.

Harmon defeats Stewart in a Round 2 KO due to strikes

James Gomez vs. Sullivan Cauley Amateur Heavyweight RUF MMA Title Bout

Both fighters come in with wrestling and Muy Thai backgrounds. Cauley had a collegiate wrestling stature, as he wrestled at Arizona State a few years ago.

Right off the bat, Cauley came out swinging. He placed two right hooks that stunned Gomez early. Cauley then lowered his level for a blast double and hooked an Iowa to seal top control.

He began to work the body until shots opened to the head where he finished Gomez off.

Cauley defeats Gomez in a Round 1 TKO due to strikes

Kody Hrastnik vs. Brooks Callaghan Amateur Light Heavyweight RUF MMA Title Bout

Callaghan picked up the title before most people blinked. A sudden takedown put Callaghan in a half guard position. He began wailing a punch ratio of about 3:1 to Hrastnik on the bottom. Within seconds, Hrastnik failed to counter or escape and Callaghan finished the match in a 1:50.

Callaghan defeats Hrastnik in a Round 1 TKO due to strikes

Tyler Lanham vs. Chris Renteria Amateur Lightweight RUF MMA Title Bout

One of the closest fights of the night went all three rounds. The first round though fell to Renteria. Early straight rights started the match as a boxing match. After Lanham responded, Renteria went dual-threat and hit a vicious double leg to take Lanham down.

Renteria ran up the stats with a volume amount of punches to tire and wear down Lanham until the first round ended.

Round two started with a controversial one-point loss for an “eye poke”. After review, there was no punch near the eye, but a good flop from Lanham harmed Renteria’s score. Renteria retaliates with another takedown to end the second round.

Round three started with a takedown from Renteria. After a redrop to Lanham, Lanham almost finished the comeback with a triangle submission. However, the match went to the judges.

Renteria defeats Lanham by unanimous decision (29-25,29-26,29-27)

Terry Lyles vs. Theodore Nunez Amateur Middleweight RUF MMA Title Bout

Nunez came in with a wrestling predominant history. The independent wrestler had nobody in his corner and it costed him tremendously. The quickest fight of the night ended in 1:36 in the first round.

A vicious knockout occurred when Lyles first reversed Nunez from his original takedown. The variety of punches from the head and body lasted for seconds until the referee ended the bout soundly.

Lyles defeats Nunez by Round 1 TKO due to strikes

An Ho vs. Antonio Ruiz Amateur  Flyweight RUF MMA Title Bout

Ho controlled the first round. He lunged for his punches and transitioned the long reach punches into double leg takedowns. After controlling all of round one, he continued where he left off in Round two.

He completed another takedown after trying to fight in a neutral position. With neither one of the fighters were landing any combinations from a neutral position, Ho decided to own the top and bottom game.

Heading into Round three, Ruiz lunged too far on a punch and got caught. Ho took advantage and hip tossed Ruiz to finish the round.

Ho defeats Ruiz by unanimous decision (30-27,30-27,30-27)

Alim Muhammad vs. Sam Moncada Amateur Featherweight Bout

Muhammad was the second fan-favorite once he stepped into the Octogan. He started slowly as Moncada attempted a takedown. While Moncada finished the takedown, Muhammad hit a standing switch to finish up top. Muhammad was slow again up top but landed a few big blows before he redropped Moncada. At the end of the first round, Muhammad nearly tapped out when he was caught in a triangle chokehold, but he was saved by the bell.

Going into the second round, Muhammad struggled on top. He did not land many punches as he looked to wrestle more. Moncada could not escape as he was not able to handle the weight and pressure.

In Round three, Moncada attempted a swing single but got caught underneath. Muhammad’s sprawl placed him on top where he threw punches until the end.

Muhammad defeats Moncada by unanimous decision (30-27,30-27,29-28)

Nick Alwag vs. Aaron Loya Pro Bantamweight Bout

Loya was a 2-trick pony. All he could do was spinning leg kicks and overhead hooks. A wacky southpaw faced off against Alwag in the most eventful fight of the night.

In Round one, Loya threw two spinning leg kicks with one resulting in a knockdown. Alwag quickly jumped up and the two were back to neutral.

Alwag landed a takedown and kept Loya on bottom throughout the first round.

Round two began with a punishing kick from Loya. The smacking noise left a red mark on Alwag’s body and a daunting noise sounding throughout the coliseum. Alwag decided to attack the funky Loya with his second flying knee of the match. The knee connected to Loya’s head as he collapsed to the canvas.

Next, Alwag ground and pound his opponent until the referee called the fight off.

Alwag defeats Loya by Round 2 TKO due to strikes

Travis Foster vs. Austin Wourms Pro Lightweight Bout

The fight began with a wreckless amount of punches by each fighter. Wourms landed a few more punches due to a quicker release but could not end Foster’s night.

Foster landed his first takedown in the latter half of the first round after Wourms landed more punches and was the aggressor.

In the second round, Foster landed his second takedown and captured dominance with a Saturday Night Ride. Foster then drops punch after punch to earn the win.

Foster defeats Wourms by Round 2 TKO due to strikes

MAIN EVENT: Dale Sopi vs. Richard Hale Pro Heavyweight Bout

Sopi, the 5’10” Hawaiian, was a former RUF MMA titleholder. Richard Hale, the 6’4″ Chandler native, was a former Bellator fighter.

Sopi started Round one with multiple jabs. He proved he was light on his feet even though he looked heavier. Hale’s speed was lackluster early as he could not connect with any punches.

Sopi landed a magnificent leg and punch combo that caused Hale to get angry. Sopi began to showboat until Hale turned on the motor and wailed on Sopi.

Sopi handled all the hits in round two as Hale popped four power punches that opened up a nosebleed on Sopi. Sopi had no response when Hale began to tower over him.

By round three, Sopi slowed down and Hale continued to fire as much as possible. He did not finish the Heavy-Hitting Hawaiian, but he won demandingly.

Hale defeats Sopi by unanimous decision (30-27,30-27,30-27)

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Nick Zeller-Singh

I am currently a sports journalist at Arizona State University. I write stories for ASU Volleyball and Softball. I also appear on camera as an analyst for ASU Football, Volleyball, and Softball. I have 4 radio shows that have been nominated for IBS awards (Intercollegiate Broadcasting System) for best college sports shows in the nation. I do play-by-play and color commentating for every ASU sport. I am an assistant production director at Blaze Radio (3rd best college radio station in the nation).

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