King of the Cage hosted their latest mixed-martial arts card on Oroville on Saturday night with plenty of anticipation surrounding the event for not one, but two Turlock fighters. The night ended in very different ways for the two men, Aaron Klinghardt and Brandon Bettencourt, with the fight card undergoing a number of changes at a moment’s notice.
Originally, Bettencourt was supposed to be the only Turlocker to step into the cage, but it turned out he wouldn’t be stepping in at all after failing to get clearance from the on-site medical staff the night of the fight. He was originally set to face Raul Garcia at a 140 lbs. catchweight bout.
Area MMA enthusiasts didn’t go home empty handed, though, as Klinghardt accepted his fight – an amateur kickboxing exhibition – on only 10 days notice. Klinghardt has plenty of history with the promotion as he is the current King of the Cage amateur middleweight and amateur welterweight champion. Outside of King of the Cage, he is also a Muay Thai Purist state champion at middleweight.
In his last-minute match, Klinghardt, whose nickname is The Prototype, made quick work of Washington-native Emanuel Perez as he TKO’d him at 1:40 of the second round.
“The promotion’s amateur MMA two-division champ showcased his diverse striking and overwhelming volume to dispatch his much heavier opponent,” said his coach Carlos Becerra of Team Maquina Combat and Alpha Fit in Turlock.
After the match, Klinghardt shared that getting finishes in the cage is always his goal, as he and the team don’t want to leave any shadow of a doubt.
“I want to share our skillset, our mindset and our brand of violence with the world,” he said. “We are Team Maquina Combat.”
Klinghardt is confident that his dominance in the amateur ranks will translate professionally, as he is set to make his pro MMA debut on Feb.11 against Sarek Shileds (3-1) of Oregon. Shields is ranked as the No. 5 welterweight in the Pacific Northwest region, but it’s nothing that fazes Klinghardt, Becerra and the rest of the team.
“We’re going to fight this guy in his own backyard. We want their best guys right away for his professional debut. No warmups, just straight into the fire. We are maquinas, machines, and we don’t treat that like just a name, we mean it. This isn’t a gym, this a factory, a shop. We’re ready for anybody, anytime and anywhere,” Becerra said.