Belt brothers: Escobar Training Grounds fighters Church, Cocores win title fights at WFC 60
STATELINE — At World Fighting Championships 60, two local fighters brought home championship belts in front of a hometown crowd. Cameron Church and Chris Cocores won title fights in the event held at MontBleu Resort Casino and Spa on Saturday, Sept. 24, as part of a strong showing from Escobar Training Grounds.
“It’s very special. This is where I grew up and where I came from,” said Cocores, who won the 145-pound WFC Mixed Martial Arts title fight. “It gave me a different motivation, and there was a different fire inside of me to fight in front of the home squad.”
Cocores delivered Escobar Training Grounds’ first hardware of the night by winning the 145-pound MMA title fight. Cocores forced his opponent Calob Ramirez to tap out with a rear naked choke 2:41 into the second round.
“It’s just the start for me,” the 25-year-old Cocores said. “I’ve been doing this for six years now, and I feel like I’m just getting started.”
Born and raised in South Lake Tahoe, Cocores felt the love from the sold out crowd at MontBleu. In the ring, the local’s versatile fighting led to him outwrestling Ramirez on the ground to end the fight.
“It was comforting more than anything,” Cocores said of fighting on the South Shore. “Sometimes you feel like you’re going to get overwhelmed when you walk out there — then you feel everybody’s love and the pressure isn’t there as much.”
Church won the 170-pound WFC Muay Thai title in the night’s main event, beating Brennan Mishler by technical knock out 1:08 into the third round. In his third career fight, Church beat the coach of his first two opponents by ultimately punching him into defeat.
“All my hard work paid off,” Church said. “Training every day for four hours a day and busting my ass made it all worth it.
“I had all my family and friends from Tracy right up in the front row, and I could hear them more than I could hear my own corner. They were practically in the ring with me.”
Joshua Meno was the local studio’s third winner Saturday. The Lake Tahoe Community College Student won a 170-pound MMA fight against Jonathan Carroll with a rear naked choke tapout 2:32 into the first period.
Erik Searcy (140-pound MMA) and Cris Montenegro (125-pound MMA) each came up short in their fights Saturday night. Searcy fell by technical knock out due to strikes while Montenegro lost a three-round split decision.
“I gave it everything I had,” Searcy said. “I almost had him toward the end of the first round, and really put everything I could into finishing him — but he was a tough guy and gutted it out.”
Saturday’s 17-fight card drew a capacity crowd inside the MontBleu Theater. WFC 60 featured MMA, Muay Thai and Brazilan jiu-jistu fights, and also handed out a Muay Thai 147-pound title belt to Gabriel Ramirez from Vacaville, California.
The five local fighters trained in a nine-week fight camp leading up to WFC 60 at Escobar Training Grounds, which can now lay claim to four champions. When they weren’t fighting Saturday night, the ETG products were throwing support each other’s way.
“We came in there with a bang and left with a bang,” Cocores said. “I’ve never fought somewhere and felt so surrounded by brothers — it’s dope.”