Billerica’s Pilla falls in title defense; local talent shines at Combat Zone 54

CZ54 took place in Salem, New Hampshire on Friday. (Photo/CZMMA)
CZ54 took place in Salem, New Hampshire on Friday. (Photo/CZMMA)
Combat Zone 54 took place in Salem, New Hampshire on Friday. (Photo/CZMMA) Combat Zone Billerica’s Pilla falls in title defense; local talent shines at Combat Zone 54 CombatZone54
CZ54 took place in Salem, New Hampshire on Friday. (Photo/CZMMA)

SALEM, N.H. — Combat Zone held their 54th event at Rockingham Park in Salem, N.H. on Friday night with a card featuring six mixed martial arts bouts and six kickboxing contests. Long time New England MMA standout and owner of Combat Zone, Calvin Kattar assured the crowd they had an action packed night with exhilarating fights from start to finish.

Jake “The Gorilla” Pilla, of Billerica, Mass. came into last night as Combat Zone’s featherweight champion despite dropping a decision to Watertown, N.Y. native Danny “El Principe” Abad. The first fight between the two shocked the crowd, as Abad dominated the fight from start to finish and handed Pilla his first loss despite having a lackluster 2-3 record heading into the first fight. The rematch certainly led to a lot of anticipation and the fight did not disappoint.

Abad and Pilla weighed in at 142 and 143 respectively for their rematch at Combat Zone 54, making this a title defense for Pilla. Although the two would already be familiar with each other, a lot has changed since their previous matchup. Abad, now a member of Jackson Wink MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico, had a camp under the tutelage one of the most well known MMA camps in the world. Pilla had also switched camps, leaving Wai Kru in Boston for New England Top Team in Salem, N.H.

The fight started off strong for Pilla, who controlled the pace in round one by recording multiple take downs and having a solid chance for a choke submission before the bell rang putting a close to round one. That would be Pilla’s lone shining moment of the fight, as Abad controlled the rest of the fight in rounds two and three before eventually gaining a control of Pilla’s back and throwing a mass amount punches to the side of Pilla’s face, resulting in the referee stopping the fight and giving Abad the fourth round TKO victory.

Abad, being a New York native with not much of a New England fan base, had to overcome adversity, a hostile crowd, and a Pilla who claimed to be the best he has ever been. Abad has been known as a trash talker to some fans in the area, and Pilla’s fan base that comes in hundreds to Combat Zone events were probably not fond of his prediction of getting a finish of their beloved “Gorilla” in a interview conducted by Combat Zone staff. “The first (round) could have absolutely went to him. If I was a judge I’d probably give it to him.” Abad said about the first round exchange. “I’ve been training in Albuquerque with a bunch of animals. All my coaches, all my sparring partners are UFC caliber guys, I’m really thank full for them and if it wasn’t for them I would not have fought the way I did.

Although the outcome was the same, there were some differences in the fight. “I think he had better cardio,” Abad stated. “He probably worked other stuff but I didn’t get to feel it”

In other action, Lawrence’s Will “The Brown Bomber” Santiago made his return to the cage, facing Ralph Johnson after nearly a two and a half year hiatus. Santiago was facing a serious height disadvantage, being 10 inches shorter than Johnson, but The Brown Bomber was able to throw a long wide right hook sending Johnson to the canvas and giving Santiago the chance to finish the fight, resulting in a first round TKO for the heavy hitting Santiago.

Lowell’s Ray Shawdee is one of New England’s top professional welterweights in mixed martial arts, owning a professional record of 4-2. However last night, he stepped into the cage in a kickboxing bout against Team Irish’s Buck Pineau. Pineau would open Shawdee up with a deep cut behind his ear, while Shawdee was also on the negative end of a low blow all in the first round. Shawdee would eventually overcome all circumstances and finish very strong, resulting in narrowly taking a split decision victory.

In amateur kickboxing action, another Lowell native in Brandy Young put on an impressive performance for the Combat Zone crowd. Her opposition was Brockton, Mass. native Elizabeth Silveira, a 4-3 amateur kickboxer training from Hard Knocks in Boston. The fight would eventually go to a decision, but there was no question who the winner was as Young would shutout Silveira, with all three judges scoring the bout 30-27. For Young’s performance, she was awarded Amateur Fighter of the Night after receiving the majority of the votes from Combat Zone staff and media.

Combat Zone now looks towards their 55th event, currently slated for September 18th back at Rockingham Park.