For Harris Sarmiento, the goal is simple.
"I’m in it to win that pot," he said of the cash prize awarded to the winner of the lightweight grand prix.
"The Hitman" is two-thirds of the way there after beating Jose Salgado on Friday night to cap GalaxyMMA’s second event at the Blaisdell Arena.
Sarmiento (36-20) will face Steve Gable, who needed just 97 seconds to submit Sarmiento’s teammate, Kris Kyle, in the other semifinal.
They will clash at GalaxyMMA’s next event to determine the organization’s first lightweight champion.
The two fights headlined a 16-bout card that drew an audience of roughly 800 to the Blaisdell Arena.
One of the scheduled co-feature bouts between Ian McCall and Tyson Nam didn’t take place, as Nam was forced to withdraw with a lower back and hip injury.
McCall instead competed in a grappling match with Russell Doane that went to a draw after two 3-minute rounds.
The fight was hyped during Thursday’s press conference, although multiple sources stated that Nam pulled out of the bout prior to the press conference.
The organization announced the cancellation of the fight at Friday’s weigh-ins, although president Mark Pang said later that all fighters except Kyle Kaahanui had made weight and all the scheduled fights were a go.
Yesterday evening, Pang sent an e-mail to the Star-Advertiser, saying that he knew of Nam’s injury prior to the press conference, but it wasn’t determined that he wouldn’t be able to compete until seeing a specialist later that day.
"As a promoter, I have the duty to try my best to keep the fights scheduled," Pang wrote. "I also have the duty to be a neutral party. This is the reason why we did not want to let anyone know about the pain Tyson was going through. It would have been a weakness that Ian McCall could have exploited during the fight if Tyson decided to fight after treatment."
Sarmiento, 27, relied on his experience to overcome a gritty performance from Salgado.
It was evident from the outset that Salgado wanted no part of standing with Sarmiento, relying on his wrestling and takedowns.
Sarmiento kept the fight standing for longer periods of time and went to work, capping the fight with an impressive third round of repeated combinations of leg kicks and punches that eventually spelled the difference.