Scott "Hotsauce" Holtzman (5-0) made a triumphant return to the cage Friday night with a second round TKO win over pro mixed martial arts veteran John Mahlow (13-14) in the "XFC 24: Collision Course" main event at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa, Fla.
The win earned Holtzman the XFC lightweight title vacated by former champion Nick Newell who made a high profile exodus from the XFC last month to sign with rival fight promotion World Series of Fighting.
Holtzman has fought his entire pro MMA career inside the XFC cage. Beginning with a second round submission win over Brandon Demastes at XFC 16 in Feb. 2012, Holtzman went on to rack up first round TKO wins over Matt Metts at XFC 18 in June 2012 and Chris Coggins at XFC 20 in Sept. 2012.
Holtzman earned his shot at the XFC 155-pound title with a unanimous decision over Jason Hicks at XFC 22 back in February. A former hockey player, the 29-year-old Holtzman trains out of Shield Systems BJJ and MMA in Knoxville, Tenn.
His well-rounded skills, aggressiveness and athleticism have made him a real force in the highly competitive lightweight division. There is a good chance he could make his first title defense against former XFC lightweight champ Eric Reynolds (17-6) later this year.
In the XFC 24 co-main event North Carolina middleweight Ricky "The Sniper" Rainey improved his record to 6-1 with a first round TKO win over Florida's Reggie Pena (10-6). "The Sniper" lived up to his nickname by timing a perfectly placed high kick to the head of a retreating Pena that dropped him and set up the finishing sequence.
Also on the AXStv televised main card, Bellator veteran Luis "Sapo" Santos (57-9) continued his assault on the welterweight division with a 10-second knockout of Washington's Dave Courchaine (15-6). It is Santos' third straight first round knockout victory with a total fight time of 1:34. There are big things in store for Mr. Santos and he is probably the most talented fighter on the XFC's roster at the moment.
Former XFC lightweight champ Eric "It's a Wrap" Reynolds (17-6) likely earned himself another shot at the title with a first round submission win over North Carolina's "Master of Cool" Kevin Forant (5-1). The highlight of the bout was a full-fledged pro wrestling style piledriver Reynolds laid on Forant about midway through.
In the lone women's MMA bout on the card, Arizona flyweight and former collegiate soccer star, Cortney Casey (1-0) had a very dominant performance with a first round submission victory over Michigan's Kelly Warren (3-5). Although Warren has much more cage time as a professional fighter, no one would have believed it had they not known.
Opening the AXStv broadcast was a featherweight bout that saw American Top Team product Deivison Ribeiro (24-9) out-score Georgia's Shah Bobonis (15-9) via unanimous decision. Ribeiro used counter-punches, leg kicks and the occasional well-timed takedown to earn the nod.
The complete "XFC 24: Collision Course" results include:
(155 Title) Scott Holtzman def. John Mahlow by TKO (strikes) Rd 2 (2:53)
Ricky Rainey def. Reggie Pena by TKO (strikes) Rd 1 (4:33)
Luis “Sapo” Santos def. Dave Courchaine by TKO (strikes) Rd 1 (:10)
Eric Reynolds def. Kevin Forant by submission (Arm Triangle) Rd 1 (4:13)
Cortney Casey def. Kelly Warren by submission (Rear-Naked Choke) Rd 1 (3:33)
Deivison Ribeiro def. Shah Bobonis by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
John Cofer def. Chad Livingston by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Nick Smith def. Ladarious Jackson by disqualification (illegal knee) Rd 2 (2:38)
Patrick Williams def. Gabe Maldonado by TKO (punches) Rd 1 (:50)
Jason Ignacek def. Ken Crowder by submission (Triangle Choke) R 2 (1:03)
Gilbert Burgos def. Jason Gladey by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)