RENO -- Frankie DiMartino was poised for the best win of his young career. The Carson City native dominated for two rounds Friday night as he assaulted Devin Conkling with a ground-and-pound game taking the striker off his game.
But Conkling didn't have to throw a punch or even grab DiMartino in a submission. DiMartino, fighting in the bantam weight class, couldn't answer the bell in the third round, succumbing to an injury to his already surgically-repaired knee. Conkling (7-2) was awarded a TKO at the Reno Xtreme Fights MMA/boxing event at the Grand Sierra Resort in a loss DiMartino could only sum up with one word.
"It's just kind of embarrassing," said DiMartino, who is a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and has a background in wrestling. "Two rounds, that's it. It's just kind of embarrassing."
DiMartino (2-3) said he tried to step in on Conkling in the first round and felt a pop in his right knee, the same one that underwent an anterior cruciate ligament surgery just five months ago. But despite the injury, he was able to grab Conkling to the ground within the opening seconds of the first round and didn't let up until the final bell of the second round.
"He said he injured it in the first 30 seconds," said DiMartino's trainer, Gary Gate of Gracie Jiu-Jutsu Academy. "I asked him, 'Are you hurt or injured?' He said injured.
"Between rounds going into the third, he said he couldn't go on. I asked him, 'I'll stop if you want me stop it.' And he said stop because he couldn't stand on it. And then the ref heard him say he couldn't go on and once the ref hears it, it's over."
Conkling, whose face was battered afterward with a near-swollen shut left eye and a nose severely packed to prevent further bleeding, could only try to defend himself. DiMartino was able to secure a half mount in the first, but Conkling turned and squirmed enough to prevent DiMartino from getting the full mount.
In the second, DiMartino tried to land a kick to Conkling's face in the opening seconds, but missed and went back to the ground game.
DiMartino was able to secure a full mount and began an assault on Conkling's face with a succession of rights and lefts. Conkling was able to turn half way out as DiMartino sat on his ribs and continued the flurry.
It looked as if the fight might be stopped because Conkling wasn't fighting back. The referee warned him to fight or it would be called. Grate said the commissioner sitting in DiMartino's corner was surprised the fight wasn't stopped.
"He's strong, he's got good control," Conkling said. "He worked his gameplan better than I did.
"I would have liked to have knocked him out, but you know that was the gameplan was to just straight ground-and-pound. Not the win I wanted, but I got it. I'll just work with and hopefully I'll fight him again."
When DiMartino went to his corner following the round, he didn't bother to sit on the stool. His corner attended to him, trying to get him back out. As he attempted to stand, he braced himself against the corner and told Grate that he was finished.
"Gary told me everything that I needed to do and followed everything that Gary told me to do," DiMartino said. "I just didn't feel very comfortable on my feet for some reason...
"I needed to finish it. It was nobody's fault but my own."
The surprise of the night came when local favorite Derek Hinkey lost in a split decision to Paul Mendez (3-1, 2 KOs) in a super middleweight six-round bout. Hinkey (8-2, 7 KOs) had trouble throwing his hands all night and admitted that he still lingering pain from his last fight in July when he won a controversial decision over Loren Myers. Hinkey hurt his hand in that fight and had trouble throwing punches then as well.
The loss was a revelation for Hinkey.
"I the gym, I wear MMA gloves under my boxing gloves, 20-ounce gloves. That should probably tell me something," Hinkey said. "If you're wearing extra padding on your gloves and you can't punch, then you're hands aren't meant for it (boxing)."
Hinkey said it was unlikely that he will ever fight again.
"The fighter in me wants to fight, but it feels like needles are hitting me in both hands."
In the MMA main event, Reno's Ashe Bowman (9-7) was upset by Kito Andrews after dominating the first round. Bowman tried to step back from Andrews early in the second, but was caught with a right hand to the chin. He fell to mat, slamming the back of his down in the process, and the fight was stopped 1:55 into the second round with Andrews scoring the KO win and improving his record to 6-2.
Brandon Gonzales made his much-anticipated Reno debut in the boxing main event where he showcased a solid blend of speed and power. He knocked down Victor Villereal in the second and early in the fourth before sending him to the canvas a final time with 2:55 remaining the round.
Gonzales, who uses the moniker "Flawless," earned his eighth knockout in nine fights to extend his record to 9-0.
"I don't think it's about power, it's about the efficiency and the shots, landing clean shots and setting him properly," said Gonzales, who is from Sacramento and was in his first bout since signing with Reno's Let's Get It On Promotions. "I don't consider myself a power puncher, just efficient with my picking and choosing."
In other action, Reno's Johnny Mancilla scored his first win over Yerington's Andrew Rempp after getting two draws in his first two boxing bouts. Rempp was one of those draws, which came in February, but this time Mancilla didn't leave anything to chance.
Mancilla was the aggressor for the majority of the fight, going after Rempp's body early on and finishing up the fourth round with three solid overhand rights.
Rempp, who has trained at Bruno's Boxing Club in Carson City in the past, fell to 1-2-1 with the loss.
Undefeated Bayan Jargal kept his record unblemished with a six-round unanimous decision over Guadalupe Diaz. After a slow first round, Jargal (14-0-2, 9 KOs) picked the pace and landed several key blows in the final round to cement the decision.
Reno's Buddy Roberts, who also trains with Gate, won easily over Alijah Reni in 4 minutes, 55 seconds in the first round of the MMA fight. Reni tried an early arm bar, but Roberts overpowered him and went to a ground-and-pound game that forced the ref to stop the fight with just five seconds left on the clock.