After 10 straight wins, Tucumcari’s mixed marital arts champion Abel Cullum lost his first match in the first-ever EliteXC Showtime event.
In the competitive matchup between two skilled, determined, well-conditioned fighters, unbeaten Brazilian Wilson Reis (6-0) of Philadelphia registered a close, unanimous five-round decision over Cullum (11-2), according to a Showtime press release.
Reis captured the EliteXC bantamweight title in the main event on ShoXC: Elite Challenger Series, a mixed marital arts event, which was broadcast Sept. 26.
The main event fighters, Cullum and Reis each displayed high-level grappling skills, but Reis did enough to ground out a victory by the scores of 49-46 twice and 48-47, the release said.
Cullum, who is known as “The Silent Assassin” came into the fight with a winning streak.
Cullum gave a fantastic account of himself, landed the vast majority of the telling punches and seemed to win over the crowd at the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez, Calif., the release said.
Paul Elam of Tucumcari said Cullum deserves a big round of applause. "Abel lost by a close decision but I can tell you from firsthand experience, Abel gave Reis a run for his money."
Elam also said, "Abel has made a name for himself worldwide as one of the best fighters in the mixed-martial arts and has been ranked among the top 10 in the world in his weight class."
About 50 people, many wearing Cullum T-shirts, gathered at the Tucumcari Elks Club to watch the fight. The loud Elk's barroom chatter went silent as soon as Cullum's picture was televised in the fight preview. In the brief segment, Cullum gave his hometown a boost with the mention of Tucumcari as his training ground.
Larry Birch of Hamilton Big County Ford in Tucumcari and one of Cullum's major sponsors was at the Elks to watch the event.
When Cullum returned from his last win about six months ago, Birch presented the King of the Cage 135-pound titleholder with a Ford F150 SuperCrew.
Birch rated Cullum's match with Reis "a good fight."
But, "I was disappointed that the referee let that guy lay on Abel for so long and did not stand the fighters up," Birch said.
Cullum said, "No one wants to lose, but he was a strong guy and tough for me to keep off,’’ according to the Showtime press release. “I wanted to be the aggressor, but I wound up on the ground too much. I thought the referee could have stood us up a couple of times, but it didn’t happen.’’
Cullum could not be reached for comment.
Birch said, "Abel is a great ambassador for Eastern New Mexico and Tucumcari. Abel is a great kid and all of his success has not gone to his head, he is humble and polite and I'm so proud of the kid."
Cullum is expected to defend his King of the Cage title later this year.