SALEM - U.S. Army Capt. Jason Norwood, an Iraq war combat veteran, invaded the Sports Club at Rockingham Park Friday night and captured a split decision victory over Manchester's Nate LaMotte in the main event of Combat Zone MMA 46.
After trading blows, kicks and takedowns throughout the first round, Norwood went to his ground and pound game in the second, and opened up a severe cut near LaMotte's left eye. LaMotte, a former Manchester Memorial High wrestler, was forced to fight the remaining two rounds with so much blood pouring down his face that his vision was impeded.
But that wasn't the reason the former top-ranked welterweight in the region dropped to 12-7 while making his comeback from an 18-month layoff.
"I didn't feel my power at all," LaMotte said. "There was no juice behind anything. I felt it wasn't there right from the beginning."
LaMotte, who fights for Team Burgess, also credited Norwood.
"He's a tough kid," Lamotte said. "He's strong - really strong - and a lot stronger than I thought. But I'm back. This was just a taste. I'll be fighting again soon."
Norwood, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a member the Legionnaire Fight Team of Moorestown, N.J., controlled the match while landing multiple shots to his opponent's head and body.
"I think it was the pressure. I mauled him a little bit," said Norwood, who improved his record to 13-3. "I had smothering pressure, which is what Nate is known for. I knew I could never stay underneath him because then I could not get back up. So when I was down on the mat I was moving all the time."
The LaMotte-Norwood fight was the last of 10 on a 10-bout card.
In pro action on the undercard, Ray Shawdee of Lowell, Mass., connected with strikes and blows to the head of Derry's Eddie Brito and clearly had the advantage from the opening bell of their match-up of 180 pounders. Brito verbally tapped out after Shawdee executed the arm bar in 2:28 of the first round. Shawdee improved to 3-2 while Brito dropped to 3-5.
In another pro battle, featuring a fighter from Derry, featherweight John Santos of Team Fury evened his record at 1-1 with a TKO of Aaron Petrucelli of Methuen, Mass., 58 seconds into Round 2.