For the first time since February, Turlock’s Brandon Bettencourt “made the walk” in a return to professional mixed martial arts competition on Oct. 7 at the latest King of the Cage fight card at the Gold Country Casino and Resort in Oroville.
The return was a long time coming for the 35-year-old Bettencourt, who has seen several scheduled fights fall through over the past two years and had to recover from injuries sustained in a car accident in March.
On Oct. 7, Bettencourt finally landed a fight with Raymond Smith in a bantamweight bout of 135 pounds. He admittedly had nerves while warming up and while making his walkout, but once the cage was locked, it was business as usual for the Turlocker, submitting Smith with a rear-naked choke in the very first round to improve to 5-0 as a professional.
Bettencourt, who previously wrestled at Turlock High School and prides himself in his jiu-jitsu skills, was a mismatch for Smith, who is described as a brawler. Smith was taken down by Bettencourt after being on the receiving end of a pair of kicks and after the two exchanged a pair of punches. It was the beginning of the end.
“I stood on the feet with them for a little bit, kicked him twice, punched him, and then when he punched me, I just said, ‘We’re taking this thing to the ground,’” he said. “I just felt like I was better on the ground. I have a lot more experience wrestling and jiu jitsu. Once we got to the ground, I just used my ground and pound to get him to go to his stomach, and I just made the choke.
“You don’t get paid by the minute or second, so the faster you can get a guy out of there, the better, and it made for a good show.”
Of his five professional victories, Saturday’s was his third via submission.
Bettencourt, who primarily trains out of El Nino Training Center in South San Francisco, hopes to be back in the gym next week. While there are no future fights confirmed, he plans to return to competition early next year and to build some consistency in the cage. He also hopes to catch the attention of larger promotions.
“It’s a rush like no other to make that walk and to hear your name called. And we got the job done, so we’ll see what comes from this,” he said. “From there, maybe we get on [Dana White’s] Contender Series or something.”