Angelo Bevilacqua is a lifelong boxing fan who retired to Las Vegas from New York, while son Angelo Jr. prefers the faster-paced excitement of mixed martial arts.
The former NYPD officer and his son, a current Metro officer, found a happy medium with Nevada’s first combined boxing and mixed martial arts card, “Free for All, A Night of Combat,” at the Thomas & Mack Center on Friday night.
“This is the best of both worlds,” Angelo Jr. said. “Look, you’ve got father and son watching together. He would never watch (MMA on TV) with me, but he’s out here.”
The Bevilacquas were among an estimated crowd of 8,000 that showed up at the event. All 18,000 available free tickets were distributed through unlvtickets.com and several local outlets.
The crowd swelled noticeably in numbers and noise after the boxing card ended and mixed martial artists took over the night.
Bevilacqua Sr., who at 71 was viewing his first live MMA event, sounded impressed with the action. “Very, very good,” he said with a grin.
The night had started with a five-fight boxing card.
In the main event of that card, which was televised on ESPN2, Las Vegan Friday Ahunanya handed Alonzo Butler the first loss of his career with a unanimous-decision win.
Butler had racked up 26 wins and a no decision in his seven-year career but had been out of action for 13 months with a detached retina. Ahunanya, 36, scored a fourth-round knockdown in the victory.
In another televised bout, Kevin Burnett was knocked down with one second left in his fight against Horace Grant but barely beat the referee’s count and rose to his feet on nine. He then was awarded a victory by decision in a fight he otherwise had controlled.
After a few slight adjustments to the ring, the mixed martial artists took center stage.
The highlight of that portion of the card was a unanimous-decision victory by Kim Rose over Las Vegan Kim Couture.
Couture, the wife of deposed Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight champion Randy Couture, took a huge right hand three seconds into the fight that bloodied her.
But she survived the shot and executed a few takedowns over the three rounds before dropping the fight. She was taken to a hospital with a jaw injury.
In the main event, Las Vegan John Alessio submitted Pete Spratt two minutes into the second round by rear-naked choke in a matchup of two fighters with UFC experience.
Alessio suffered a broken right forearm in the first round but used the arm to complete the submission.
“I could feeling it crunching and flexing,” he said. “… You don’t think about it when you’re doing it.”
Las Vegans Brice Ritani-Coe and Kui Gonsalves each scored victories in their MMA debuts.