ATLANTIC CITY — The next time Atlantic City mixed martial arts fighter Cesar Balmaceda steps into the cage, a Cage Fury Fighting Championships title belt will be on the line.

The 22-year-old earned a spectacular victory Saturday over Johnson Jajoute, of Philadelphia, during CFFC 66 at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, scoring a first-round knockout. As a result, Balmaceda (4-0) will take on CFFC lightweight champion Joe Lowry (6-0) at Borgata on Oct. 21 as part of CFFC 68.

“Cesar has earned it,” Alliance MMA president and former CFFC president Rob Haydak said at cageside Saturday. “He just beat a kid (Johnson) no one thought he would beat, and he did it impressively. There’s no doubt in my mind that if he keeps progressing like this, he’s going to be in the UFC eventually.”

Balmaceda, a 2013 Atlantic City High School graduate, thrilled CFFC officials and a near-capacity crowd at Borgata’s Event Center Saturday with a stunning win.

He ended the fight by launching a left round-house kick that thudded against Jajoute’s temple. Jajoute (4-2) sagged to the mat, prompting referee Keith Peterson to stop the scheduled three-round bout after just 3 minutes, 13 seconds.

Balmaceda let out a yell and then stomped his foot on the mat while the crowd roared.

“I knew that was going to happen,” Balmaceda said. “I called it even before we stepped into the cage. We studied his (previous) fights and noticed that he liked to lean his head to the right and kept his right hand low. When I saw the opening, I took it.”

Balmaceda rapidly has become one of CFFC’s top young prospects since turning professional a year ago.

He earned a big win in Philadelphia three months ago, rebounding from a slow start to hand highly regarded Joe Solecki of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, his first loss with a three-round decision.

Jajuoute, a former world-class Sambo fighter, was supposed to pose an even tougher challenge.

“We thought it was going to be a real grind for Cesar,” Haydak said. “But he isn’t fazed or intimidated by anyone. His cage presence is what really stands out.”

He developed that inner toughness in the streets of Atlantic City. He frequently got in fights as a teenager before eventually joining the wrestling team at Atlantic City High School.

Balmaceda took up MMA while still in high school. He trains at Cardo Urso’s Habu Pit in Northfield.

“Cage Fury likes to have young, hungry guys fight for their titles, and Cesar definitely qualifies,” said co-trainer Dom Urso, Cardo’s son. “Fighting big fights against tough guys will only help him get to the ultimate goal, which is the UFC.”

Other fights

In Saturday’s main event, former UFC welterweight Jonavin Webb (10-2), of Marlton, gained a three-round, unanimous decision over Cody Wilson (9-4), of Boiling Springs, South Carolina. Brick Township’s Ricky Bandejas (9-1) won the interim CFFC bantamweight title when officials stopped his bout against Giorgi Kudukhashvili (3-1), of Oceanside, New York, after the first round due to a shoulder injury.

Also on the main card, Jackson Township featherweight B.J. Young won his pro debut with a three-round, unanimous decision over Jamal Johnson (0-2), of Baltimore. Featherweight Sodiq Yusuff (5-0), of Bladensburgh, Maryland, notched a 30-second knockout over Fairfield’s Vadim Ogar (7-2). Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, lightweight Rich Patishnock (7-4) took a three-round, split decision over Mike Wilkins (7-4), of Pittsburgh. Westhampton heavyweight Shawn Teed (4-1) notched a second-round TKO over Joshua Marsh (2-3) of Brentwood, New York.

In preliminary bouts, Staten Island, New York, bantamweight Santo Curatolo thrilled his big fan base by winning his pro debut with a first-round TKO over Cincinnati’s Chancey Wilson (1-1). Cherry Hill featherweight Ryan Cafaro (4-2) took a three-round, split decision over Adli Edwards of Raleigh, North Carolina. In the opening bout, Buffalo, New York, welterweight Soloman Renfro won his pro debut with a three-round, unanimous decision over Paul Sims (1-1), of Philadelphia.

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Twitter @PressACWeinberg

Member of The Press sports staff since 1986, starting my 25th season as The Press Eagles' beat writer. Also cover boxing, MMA, golf, high school sports and everything else.

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