Tucumcari’s Abel Cullum, 21, successfully defended his King of the Cage flyweight world championship on Aug. 1 against Richard Montano at Mescalero.
“It felt great to get the win,” Cullum said. “I never want to lose, but this was a very pivotal fight in my career.”
Cullum (16-3-0) said he and his father John Cullum were going to use Saturday’s fight as a measuring point to his training and mental development.
“I am his toughest critic,” John said “Then again I am his father and his coach.”
“This fight was a make-it or break-it situation in more than one way,” Abel laughed.
A minute into the first five-minute round, Cullum said he heard and felt a snap.
“It was my arm (right),” Abel said, raising a blue plaster cast. “It was tangled up in Richard’s legs and when I went to strike he moved his body and ‘Snap.’”
Abel, 21, said he continued to fight knowing something was wrong, but when the round came to an end he kept that fact to himself.
“I did not want to say anything,” Abel said. “Not even to my corner. I was afraid they would stop the fight and I did not want to lose my belt that way.”
Instead Abel said he pressed through the pain. He continued to throw punches with the broken arm.
“It changed up my game plan completely,” Abel said. “I am not happy at all with my performance. I am just glad
I could stick through it and finish the fight to the end.”
John said at first he was disappointed with Abel’s performance.
“We were out of the venue before he talked about the arm being broken,” John said. “After that I told him ‘You did what you had to do and did a great job with what you had to work with.’”
Abel’s and his father’s hopes for a quick end to the fight diminished with the injury.
The broken arm took away an element crucial to Abel’s fighting style, his jiu jitsu.
“I could not properly execute a submission hold,” Abel said. “It also made the takedowns a lot harder. I had to use my left arm and the cage more.”
Abel said another reason he did not mention or pull back with his right hand was Montano’s corner might notice and instruct the fighter to target the arm.
“I would have,” Abel said. “In a fight you see a weakness and you go after it. That is what you are in the cage for.”
Abel was declared the winner by unanimous decision.
“I gained a lot of confidence being able to push through the pain,” Abel said.
“I think mental toughness is key in the fight game,” John said. “This is definitely what I wanted to see from him (Abel).”