V.I. fighters drop debuts


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ST. THOMAS - David Charlton's adrenaline surge in his first mixed martial arts fight was apparent.

Charlton, a St. Thomas resident and co-owner of Compass Rose Tattoo, came out swinging in his super welterweight fight with Jimmy Rivera of Puerto Rico.

Charlton scored a takedown 41 seconds into the fight, peppered Rivera with body shots and roused hundreds of local fans to their feet at MMA in Paradise II at Ivanna Eudora Kean High School on Saturday.

The early onslaught left Charlton, 39, gasping for air through the next two rounds and Rivera, 21, connected on a devastating leg kick to the head for a knockout with one minute remaining in the third and final three-minute round.

"I just had nothing, I couldn't throw any more punches with any power," Charlton said. "I just gassed, I really gassed at the end of the second round. I was good in the first round. Second round, felt good trying to get a couple arm bars on him. That kid's just tough. Tough man, tough as nails. That's what I was kind of hoping for too."

Charlton struggled to keep his hands high in the second round and took a few punches, but managed to get another takedown. With Rivera (2-0) on his back again, Charlton threw punches to the solar plexus and opened his opponent up for two arm bar submission attempts.

Charlton did not appear bothered by Rivera's punches early in the third round, but was taken down and into Rivera's half guard early in the third round. The fighters got back to their feet and Charlton was backed against the cage before Rivera's right kick connected and crumpled the fan favorite.

"I was seeing he was all tired, so the only chance I had to win was with a kick," Rivera said. "I wasn't going to have a lot of points 'cause he was on top of me a lot time, giving him a lot of points, so I said to myself, 'I gotta push harder. I gotta knock him out.'"

Charlton, who trained for three weeks at a professional gym in San Diego, said all of his experience sparring could not simulate the level of emotion when he finally got in the cage.

"Right out of the gate, you know, anxiety, my heart was probably going 160 beats a minute," Charlton said. "I didn't get that sparring. I didn't get that. It's just like real exciting. It's almost like skydiving or something and I just didn't have enough. I burnt through it real fast."

Charlton was originally slated to fight Puerto Rican Lino Olivo, who was not cleared to fight by a doctor because of a shoulder injury suffered in training. Rivera was added to the card a week before the fight.

St. Thomas airplane mechanic and bartender Justin Canfield, 33, was confused when his fight ended early in the second after he fell backward following a high knee from Puerto Rican fighter Jose Ordeix, 21.

Ordeix was awarded the TKO by referee Thomas Sconzo, who did not allow Canfield an opportunity to defend a first strike once he hit the mat. Canfield did not appear to be hit in the head with the knee.

"He caught my glove," Canfield said. "I went down, but at no point was I dazed. I'm not taking anything away from him, he can fight.

"I went to the ground and I thought, I slipped, I hit the ground and my thought was, 'All right, well I'm OK with this.' I went down preparing to up kick if he came in and it was over. I thought it was a premature stoppage, but I also understand it's an amateur fight and they do a good job trying to keep everybody from getting hurt."

Ordeix escaped the first round where he was on his back for much of the three minutes. Canfield threw lefts to the ribs and brought constant knees to Ordeix's tailbone before the fighters were ordered to their feet. Ordeix connected on a kick to the hip and a pair of knees to the body before the bell and stayed on the offensive to start the second round.

"He was fatiguing, so I started doing my clinch, which I know he was gonna be out of air," Ordeix said. "Then I started striking as soon as I could 'cause I know he didn't have much, so I saw the opportunity and went for the knockout."

Ordeix was added to the card late in the week when Canfield's original opponent DeNez Jones, 38, was unable to fight due to a personal matter, according to Paradise Fighting Championships president Rigoberto Rodriguez.

"You go from being taller, heavier and younger and four days later you're shorter, lighter and older as the fighter changed on me," Canfield said. "Everything that I trained for was a different fight than I ended up in."

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