From entrance to exit, a rainbow of emotions, as colorful as his patchwork of tattoos, spilled from Steven “The Gremlin” Gruber (6-3) when he implemented a flawless game plan opposite Shai “Must Be Nice” Lindsey (4-2) at Resurrection Fighting Alliance (RFA) 42. On August 19, 2016, nobody missed a single minute of flyweight fun because AXS TV’s cameras never blinked while documenting RFA 42’s main card.
Gruber’s initial contact inside the televised frame synced with the opening note of his walkout song. By the third bar, “The Gremlin” had scurried more than halfway to RFA’s prep point. Although a Misfits of Gold mask, a symbol of his unique journey, covered Gruber’s face down the runway, the product of MMAGOLD in El Dorado Hills, California, radiated readiness.
During Mike Kendall’s formal introductions, the only thing that must’ve been nice for Lindsey was Gruber’s gesture to touch gloves, because nearly all the action after the bell belonged to the Nor Cal native. Ding.
Leading off the round, it appeared Lindsey’s traditionalized kickboxing would gain the upper hand, but Gruber’s guard demoted potentially vicious bites into slapping stings. Deflected or not, viewers could sense Lindsey’s confidence beginning to swell; therefore, Gruber offered a smothering option for the prospect from Xtreme Couture to file away, tackling him with well-timed double-leg takedown. On the ground with Gruber was not where Lindsey preferred action, so he urgently scooted his back against the fence and wall-walked back to his feet.
Lindsey’s tighter technique may have misled those tuned into AXS TV as to which skill set would prove advantageous. At the three-minute mark of the round, the pendulum swung in Gruber’s favor.
Jim West, MMAGOLD’s head coach, and MF Beck, the Misfits of Gold’s striking coach, repeated the strategy for Gruber in tandem: in-and-out. Trouble with Gruber is: his intense pressure makes the ‘in’ of in-and-out a nonissue, but the ‘out’ required an extreme level of discipline.
With about twenty seconds left in the round, Gruber wanted to punctuate his dominance, so he swung a wild high kick that Lindsey snatched from the sky. In retaliation, Lindsey kicked the leg of Gruber still rooted to the canvas, causing both to tumble and, in a mad scramble, tie themselves in a bow. The clock, nearing its expiration, alluded to the possibility: the opening third would end in a human knot of 250 pounds. Surprisingly enough, Lindsey, with around fifteen seconds left, untangled himself, postured up, and escaped the grappling of Gruber.
Putting a twist on the round’s entirety, Gruber initiated an exchange and fired a straight right hand. The punch’s perfect placement deflated Lindsey like a body absent of bones. Gruber unloaded five or six glancing fists, but the round ended in time to protect Lindsey’s consciousness—for now.
Early into the second, Lindsey landed a high kick; his best, and last, strike of the evening. Gruber responded with a flurry of punches and knees, unveiling the option of his 0wn kick toward the top story.
The crack of shinbone connecting with Lindsey’s skull sent a dense thud echoing throughout the Visalia Convention Center, and Gruber swarmed Lindsey’s toppling body. He rained down a pound’s worth of four-ounce leather, rendering Lindsey defenseless. Shortly thereafter, Gruber leapt in for the execution: sinking in his hooks, burying his forearm underneath Lindsey’s chin, and constricting Lindsey to his demise by way of rear naked choke.
At the referee’s order to release, Gruber unlocked his grip from Lindsey’s jugular and scaled RFA’s fencing to exhaust every impassioned feeling left in his tank on the biggest stage of his career.
Follow the ascent of “The Gremlin” (link here) to capture more of his proud sporting moments as a rising mixed martial artist.