CLOVIS — Gilbert Cuhen said he was prepared to go all three, five-minute rounds in his second professional fight Friday night at the Clovis Civic Center.
But he only needed 52 seconds.
Cuhen, a senior airman at Cannon Air Force Base, executed an arm bar hold that forced his opponent, Derek Cansino of Lubbock, to tap out, and give him his first professional victory in the 135-pound class.
“I feel great,” said Cuhen. “It always feels great to go in and win in under a minute.”
Cuhen was one-half of the first main event fight featured by Evolution Combat Sports, a Clovis-based mixed martial arts promoter.
About 1,000 people came to watch seven fights, including two professional and five amateur bouts, according to promoter Martin Singleterry.
A Grant County native, Cuhen said he learned mixed martial arts from the Internet and he trained alone. He fought in his first professional bout in September 2010 against a fighter with a 6-1 record.
“My first fight went horrible,” said Cuhen who holds an amateur record of 12-4. “I wasn’t prepared at all.”
This time, however, he stepped into the cage after training with Force of One Martial Arts trainer Eric Suan.
Cuhen said he’s turned into a well-rounded fighter under Suan’s tutelage, which paid off when Cansino attempted to take him down, giving Cuhen an opportunity for an arm bar.
“He just put me in a place that I’m deadly at and he wasn’t prepared for my level (of skill),” he said.
Friday’s show was the fifth for Evolution Combat Sports, which held its first event in October 2010 at the Curry County Events Center.
Tucumcari native and professional fighter Abel Cullum said the organization does a good job in recruiting fighters who put on a good show.
“Shows like Evolution Combat Sports give young athletes an opportunity to build dreams and careers,” said Cullum, who provided post-fight interviews over the public address system. “They may not have the size of the NBA, the strength of the NFL, but they have the desire to compete and display their drive in front of an audience and experience something they might not experience before.”
Cullum said the organization has potential to make mixed martial arts a popular local sport.
“I think it’s the best, most exciting sport to watch,” he said. “You never know what’s going to happen, there’s so many options that the fighters have to finish a fight.
“It’s not just one style or another, it’s mixed martial arts and that’s what you get when you watch a fight a mixture of talent.”
Cuhen’s victory adds to the seven the gym has notched in mixed martial arts fights with Evolution Combat Sports.
Cuhen was the second local fighter to win on Friday. Raul Rosas earned his first amateur victory in a 170-pound class bout against Adam Munoz.
Cuhen’s bout was the fastest of the night. A match featuring Portales fighter Dewyne Hightower came in second, ending in a minute and a half when he submitted to a guillotine choke hold from Josh Martinez of Amarillo.