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Tense moments for Speer at Target Center

MINNEAPOLIS — Standing in the center of the cage after his Extreme Challenge 188 fight against Tat Romero, Elgin’s Tommy Speer had no idea whose hand would be raised.

Speer and Romero had just battled it out for three action-packed rounds in front of nearly 3,000 fans at Target Center on Saturday night.

"I wasn’t sure who won," Speer said. "You never really are when a fight that close goes to a decision. I thought I won, I thought I did enough, but you never know what the judges are going to see."

The three cage-side judges agreed with Speer. All three judges scored it in the UFC veteran’s favor, giving Speer a unanimous-decision victory.

While the judges agreed with Speer, much of the crowd did not, and a showering of boos rang through Target Center when the scores — 30-27, 29-28, 29-28 — were announced.

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"I just didn’t think he was aggressive enough and the judges saw that," Speer said. "He fought well, but you could tell he was looking to counter and was just looking for that big knockout punch."

All three rounds were extremely tight and could have been scored either way, Speer said.

Speer started the first round well, landing a pair of inside leg kicks and finishing a double-leg takedown. The former Plainview-Elgin-Millville standout controlled most of the opening round, though Romero escaped and scored a late takedown in the closing seconds to end the frame on top.

Romero landed a big knee in the second round that hurt Speer. He recovered but after a few more good kicks by Speer, Romero took him down. Romero was able to score points with elbows and punches on the ground.

Late in the second, Speer swept and finished the round strong, landing punches as the bell sounded.

Speer controlled the start of the final round with his striking and a series of brutal leg kicks. But in the second half of the round, Romero swung momentum in his favor with a takedown. Speer did some damage off his back, looking for submissions and throwing elbows.

In the end, he did just enough to earn the decision.

"I was happy overall with some of the things I did," said Speer, who trains at the Mario Roberto Jiu-Jitsu Academy. "I did some new things, like the kicks. That’s the first time I’ve really used kicks, and Mario and I talked about that a lot after. I think we’ll continue to add that to my game."

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Speer said he’s not sure when he’ll fight again, though he’d like to remain active for the rest of 2011.

Things didn’t go as well for one other local standout who was in action Saturday.

Red Wing’s Gabe Greenberg suffered a third-round submission loss to top-ranked Mitch Jackson.

Greenberg was the superior striker, but Jackson’s wrestling proved to be too much. Jackson caught Greenberg in a guillotine choke and finished the fight 4:22 into the third.

Zumbrota-Mazeppa graduate Travis Perzynski pulled out of his scheduled fight with Ashkan Morvari just days before the event. Promoters provided no further details.

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