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Former Tornado blows through first foe

April 07, 2012|By Grant Gordon

WOODLAND HILLS - Wins didn’t come easy for Jorge Bonilla when he played football at Hoover High.

And while Saturday night might not have exactly been easy, Bonilla was victorious in quick, impressive and emphatic fashion.

The former Tornadoes defensive back/receiver notched an ultra-impressive omoplata submission victory just 50 seconds into his amateur mixed-martial-arts debut on Friday night at the Warner Center Marriott against Tom Pagano.

“It was my first fight, I was really nervous,” said Bonilla, 21, a 2008 Hoover graduate. “I just tried to stay real calm.”

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Bonilla’s victory began a 12-fight – six amateur, six professional – Alberto Crane’s National Fight Alliance MMA “Valley Invasion 2” card that saw the rookie grappler and five other teammates compete with
Glendale’s Crane in their corner.

“I’m real proud of everyone,” said Crane, who owns and teaches at Gracie Barra Burbank and Hollywood. “I’m hoping to put these guys in the [Ultimate Fighting Championship]. It’s just a matter of time.”

Crane’s Team Crane Gracie Barra charges went 4-2 on the night, with amateurs Bonilla, John Tercedi and pros Ako Harper and Rob Gooch claiming victory, while Daniel Clark and Keenan Lewis came up with losses.

Bonilla began his bout landing a leg kick, but was quickly taken down by Pagano, who shot in off the kick.

“I wasn’t happy [about getting taken down], but I was comfortable,” Bonilla said. “Jiu jitsu’s my base.”

Bonilla immediately went to work, looking for the omoplata, a high-level jiu jitsu shoulder lock that’s very rarely seen in MMA, but is a favorite hold of Crane, a Brazilian jiu jitsu third-degree black belt and
former world champion.

“It’s really awesome to see one of my guys do it,” Crane said.

Having just begun training MMA for six months, Bonilla has already seemingly become well-versed in the omoplata.

“For me, I know how to time the omoplata like the back of my hand. It’s just one of the things in my repertoire,” said Bonilla, who began training at Gracie Barra Glendale before hearing about Crane and moving on to Gracie Barra Burbank. “[Crane] took me under his wing, he took care of me.”

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