Photo courtesy of Cage Fury Fighting Championships
In his first professional Mixed Martial Arts fight, Warrensburg’s own Lenny Baker delivers a punch shortly before knocking out Judah Ciervo of Philadelphia in the first round. The matchup was held June 30 in the Resorts Casino in Atlantic City, N.J.
One of northern Warren County’s most accomplished athletes not only launched his pro career recently with a flourish, But he’s earned a title already.
In his first professional Mixed Martial Arts fight June 30, Warrensburg’s own Lenny Baker has brought Warrensburg a measure of fame.
On the fight cards and in the writeups, Baker — a former NCAA champion wrestler who graduated from Warrensburg High School in 1998 — is now referred to as Lenny “Small Town” Baker.
The nickname appeared in sports columns after he scored a convincing, heavy-handed knockout against Philadelphia favorite Judah Ciervo in a Cage Fury Fighting Championships matchup held at Resorts Casino in Atlantic City.
Baker scored a first-round knockout in 4:29, and sportswriters said Baker was dominant from the start — just as he was back in high school wrestling matches in Warrensburg. Baker was an NCAA Division III National Champion at 141 pounds in 2001. He’s now fighting at 155 pounds.
Although Ciervo came into the fight with a height advantage, more experience, and with a Mauy Thai training background that emphasizes kicks, knees and punches — Baker’s strategy, power and skills prevailed, said Baker’s trainer Darin Rafferty, also a WCS graduate.
Rafferty said Baker shook off any “first fight” nerves, despite the media attention — which included a pre-fight live “stare-down” — and crowd of about 500.
From the outset of the match, Baker took Ciervo off his feet and slammed him against the fight cage three times with wrestling takedowns — from which Ciervo recovered each time — then caught him off guard with a series of punches with his left fist. The last was a “massive left hook”, sportswriter Brian Pizza reported, that knocked Ciervo unconscious.
Rafferty reported that about two dozen people came from Northern Warren County and the Capital Region to support Baker in his pro debut.
“It was a big, exciting night for all of us,” Rafferty said, noting that in Baker’s post-fight interview, he not only thanked his family and friends for their support, but he dedicated the fight to his aunt Becky Hitchcock of Thurman, who recently passed away.
“Family means everything to Lenny,” Rafferty said. “It meant a lot for him to win the match in her honor.”
Rafferty noted that Baker’s earnings are likely to build as he moves forward, getting matched up with ever more experienced fighters.
Baker is scheduled to fight again this November, either at Borgata Casino or at Resorts Casino.
Rafferty predicted that having one fight behind him would prove helpful.
“This first match was a good learning experience, but in the next fight, Lenny will be more relaxed,” Rafferty said. “He’s got a momentum going at this point.”