From the left: Aupuni Pagaoa was a top prospect coming into Miguel Sanson’s professional Mixed Martial Arts debut. Sanson, a graduate of Delavan-Darien High School representing the Legacy Fighting Alliance, won by a 29-28 unanimous decision. (Submitted photo)

By Michael S. Hoey

Correspondent

Delavan-Darien High School graduate Miguel Sanson, 22, won his Mixed Martial Arts professional debut against top prospect Aupuni Pagaoa on Sept. 24 at the Menominee Nation Arena in Oshkosh.

Sanson competed in the flyweight 125-pound division in his first professional fight.

Sanson graduated from DDHS in 2018. He said he lived in Delavan for most of his life and moved to Darien during his junior year of high school. Sanson wrestled during his junior and senior years and then began training in boxing. Later he turned to MMA.

“What got me into fighting is the love for the sport and what it has to offer, like having a chance of becoming a world champion, thus making history in Delavan,” Sanson said.

Sanson currently lives in Walworth and trains in Burlington at Bird Azarian Memorial. He said the 35-minute commute to train there is very much worth the extra time.

As an amateur, Sanson competed as a boxer and then an MMA fighter and was 4-0 in MMA with three technical knockouts and one submission.

His first professional fight was for the Legacy Fighting Alliance, which he says is one of the top professional promotions in the country. According to Sanson, the LFA strives to produce the next generation of MMA stars.

Sanson is trained by Diego Avila and Anthony D’Alie. Avila said Sanson really destroys the argument of some people not being able to make it due to their life circumstances.

“He comes from a rough upbringing,” Avila said.

“The power of making a choice is still so powerful and he is a witness that your circumstances don’t matter if you can make a choice on what you are going to do with your life and you do whatever it takes to get there,” Avila added.

Before the fight, Sanson said he was very excited and ready to go.

“All the hard work has been done, now comes the fun part,” he said.

Pagaoa (1-0 coming into the fight) is, according to Sanson, a crisp striker and the plan was to take the fight to the mat. It was the first fight of the Main Card live on the UFC Figthpass and billed as the “Fight of the Night.” The fight was originally a preliminary event but was moved up due to some other fighters not being able to compete due to COVID.

“We knew going into this one that it was going to be a battle,” Avila said. “Aupuni Pagaoa was a tall task for our first fight.”

Avila said Pagaoa’s previous opponent only lasted 12 seconds before the referee stopped the fight in Pagaoa’s professional debut. Pagaoa, according to Avila, also comes from one of the most respected teams in the Unites States (Extreme Couture MMA).

Avila said the game plan was to get Pagaoa to the mat and have Sanson wrestle with him to get his arms fatigued so his punches would have a little less pop. But that strategy didn’t quite pan out – Sanson was unable to get Pagaoa to the mat – so Sanson was forced to fight standing up.

He lost the first round but had more success in the second round as he was able to get Pagaoa to the mat and did so in dominant fashion.

Avila said the fight was even, one round apiece, heading into the final round. Sanson landed another takedown but Pagaoa was able to come back with some good strikes.

Coming down to the last few seconds, Sanson needed something big to ensure victory and he got it. Avila said Sanson scored a huge slam that got the crowd on their feet. He came away with a 29-28 unanimous decision.

Sanson said he sees himself fighting again for the LFA soon and he hopes to capture that organization’s flyweight title within four or five fights.

 
 

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