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MMA:

Local wrestler back at it on different mat

Basic grad envisions pro career, one-on-one bout with Rebel roommate

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Andy Samuelson

Weston Duschen, top, pounds out a quick victory Friday night over Sean McCauley at the Tuff-N-Uff event at The Orleans.

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Weston Duschen poses for a video camera after his victory Friday night at Tuff-N-Uff at The Orleans.

Future Stars of MMA

  • 170 lbs title bout: Kenny Marzolla (Xtreme Couture) def. Eddie Jackson (Legends) via KO (kick) Round One, :06
  • 170 lbs: Ryan West (IMFC) def. John Ripley (Freestyle) via TKO (strikes) Round Three, :29
  • 155 lbs title bout: Odis Ruiz (Filipino MMA) def. Christian Palencia (Legends) via unanimous decision
  • 135 lbs: Maurice Senters (Striking Unlimited) def. Junior Gomez (Hawaiian Fighting Arts) via TKO (punches) Round One, :54
  • 135 lbs title bout: Jimmy Jones (Xtreme Couture) def. Chris Brady (Legends) via TKO (strikes) Round Two, 2:09
  • Super heavy: Tomsilva Lober (Team Conan) def. Hector Ortiz (8 Elemental MA Academy) via TKO (strikes) Round One, :17
  • 205 lbs: Patrick Begin (Xtreme) def. Brett Miller (Freestyle) via TKO (strikes) Round One, 1:46
  • Women's 150 lbs: Moa Palmer (The Compound) def. Mary Sluss (Team Destruction) via TKO (punches) Round One, :40
  • 185 lbs: Tom Lutz (Xtreme Couture) def. Jerron Peoples (NCFC) via submission (rear-naked choke) Round One, 1:59
  • 155 lbs: Gil Guadardo (Xtreme Couture) def. Barry Prevost (Striking Unlimited) via submission (rear-naked choke) Round One, 1:21
  • 140 lbs: Gor Mnatsakanyan (Filipino MMA) def. Joey Kuni (Xtreme Couture) via submission (guillotine choke) Round Two
  • Women's 125 lbs: Nina Ansaroff (American Top Team) def. Christy Tada (Hawaiian Fighting Arts) via TKO (strikes) Round One, :46
  • 205 lbs: Weston Duschen (Xtreme Couture) def. Sean McCauley (Freestyle) via TKO (punches) Round One, 1:18
  • 145 lbs: Alan Roach (NCFC) def. Rudy Morales (Filipino MMA) via TKO (punches) Round One, 1:46
  • 155 lbs: Joe Tussing (Striking Unlimited) def. Cameron Ramirez (Freestyle MMA) via unanimous decison
  • 165 lbs: James Salazar (Tapout R & D) def. Shelton Malone (Centenial Taekwondo) via TKO (strikes) Round Two, 2:07

Beyond the Sun

This is one arena where Weston Duschen’s UNLV basketball roommates know not to challenge him.

“They’re always messing with me and trying to get me to come play basketball with them because they know I can’t play. But when I offer them the chance to come into my world, they’re like: ‘No way,’” Duschen said with a smile.

Indeed Rebels reserve Scott Hoffman, who lives with Duschen, and guard Kendall Wallace, who Duschen says might as well stay with them since “he’s always at the house,” witnessed firsthand Friday night what their mixed martial artist of a friend is capable of.

The 27-year-old Duschen rained down a flurry of hammer fists to put a quick end to his 205-pound bout with Sean McCauley at the Tuff-N-Uff event at The Orleans.

“Oh, it was awesome, probably my best performance so far. To have those guys see what I can do makes it even more special,” said Duschen, who recorded the stoppage just 1:18 into the first round.

Like many of the fighters involved with The Future Stars of MMA series, Duschen’s record isn’t perfect.

The Iowa State grad sports a rather pedestrian 3-4 amateur mark, but Duschen trains with pros like Forrest Griffin, Tyson Griffin and Martin Kampmann at Xtreme Couture and says sooner, rather than later, he will join them in the UFC.

“I feel like I might be six months away from turning pro,” said the Basic High alum, with an optimistic sigh.

Duschen’s trainer, Joey “Vegas” Varner, admits the timetable for his pupil is a bit longer.

“I think he needs at least another year and not so much in MMA amateur events. I’d like to see him participate in some amateur boxing and jiu-jitsu events,” Varner said.

“His losses aren’t a representation of his skill, more his poor decisions under fire. He’s a tremendous wrestler, but he’s just now sharpening his other skills, and using them to set up his main strength on the mat.”

Duschen — whose father, Jim, was the longtime wrestling coach at Basic, a collegiate wrestler at ISU and alternate with the national team for the 1972 Olympics — says no matter how long it takes to reach the pros, this is one dream he’s going to see through until the very end.

For as talented a wrestler as Duschen was, he also had a couple of bad breaks that prevented him from achieving even greater success.

After admitting he “choked away” the opportunity to go to state his senior season of high school, Duschen followed in his father’s footsteps to Ames, Iowa.

Only one problem: The person in front of him on the Cyclones’ depth chart was Cael Sanderson.

Yeah, that Cael Sanderson.

The one that recorded a 159-0 college record, and capped off each season with an NCAA championship.

“Yeah, a little hard to get any mat time in there,” Duschen says with a laugh. “When he finally graduated, I just missed out on earning his spot.”

Instead, Duschen returned home to Las Vegas after graduating, but his bar job at the Green Valley Ranch pool wasn’t satisfying his competitive juices.

He did run into Randy Couture one night at an event at the Henderson hotel-casino and as soon as Xtreme Couture gym opened in February 2006, Duschen had found a home back on the mat, although a cage now surrounded it.

Duschen’s biggest challenge now is to try and combine the MMA knowledge he’s gained in three years, the training sessions he’s had against some of the sport’s top pros, and his natural wrestling instincts into a pro career.

“I think unless you have been doing MMA almost your whole life, it takes a couple of years to put everything you learn together,” Duschen said. “I think I’m really close to getting to that point and it’s pretty exciting to see the hard work pay off.”

Then again, if it doesn’t work out, maybe Duschen can get one of his long-awaited payback one-on-one matches with a Rebel.

“I would just love to see their faces,” he said. “But the only shooting going on would be me trying to take them down.”

Notes: Celebrities on hand included UFC interim heavyweight champ Frank Mir, who was working the corner for Striking Unlimited, recently retired Major League ace and Las Vegas resident Greg Maddux and light heavyweight champion boxer Chad Dawson.

The quickest bout of the evening came when Kenny Marzolla caught Eddie Jackson with a head kick in the opening frame, dropping the Legends fighter in six seconds of their 170-pound title fight.

No doubt the most lopsided match-up was when Croatian giant Tomsilav Lober smacked around Hector Ortiz for 17 seconds. The 6-foot-9, 290-pound Lober (yeah, his nickname is "Conan" for a reason, check out this video for proof) took down Ortiz from the get-go and likely broke the first-time fighter's nose before officials wisely stopped the bout.

Moa Palmer either didn't like Mary Sluss walking out in a straight jacket, or an illegal kick to the head when she was down. After a brief stoppage, the 150-pound Palmer came back and annihilated Sluss with a inner leg kick and big right hand.

The 155-pound championship offered the best bout of the night when Odis Ruiz pulled out a close three-round unanimous decision victory over Christian Palencia from Legends. Ruiz, the Filipino MMA fighter, executed a late backhand punch with seconds left in the match to secure the victory.

"It was an unbelievable match," said Ruiz, who dedicated the victory to his grandmother. "I figured it was gonna stay on the ground, but we both kept exchanging. I would definitely be up for a rematch."

Andy Samuelson can be reached at [email protected] or 702-948-7837.

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