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Mixed martial arts fighters stop robbery of L.A. motel

November 4, 2011 |  9:57 pm

An attempted robbery of an L.A. motel was foiled by mixed martial arts experts just arrived from Oregon for a tournament in Long Beach, authorities said Friday.

The fighters struggled for several minutes to subdue the armed man without hurting him, one of them said Friday evening. Los Angeles police commended Brent Alvarez, 33, and Billy Denney, 28, for their actions.

A security video of the conflict at the motel in the 300 block of North Vermont Avenue was posted on YouTube and on the department's website.

Alvarez, who owns a mixed martial arts studio in Eugene, Ore., and Denney, one of his students, were getting off the elevator just before midnight Sunday when they stumbled on the suspect forcing the motel clerk at gunpoint to empty the cash drawer.

The clerk yelled, "Gun! He robbed me!" Alvarez said he saw a flash of the weapon before the suspect plunged it into his bag with the money.

A former hip-hop club bouncer, Alvarez said that 10 years of training in self-defense and defusing conflict kicked in. The suspect didn't seem to want to hurt them, either, Alvarez said, but kept insisting he did it for his daughter.

The man begged to be released so he could kiss the daughter one last time.

"He wasn't trying to punch us; he just seemed like someone who had run out of options," Alvarez said Friday evening. "I think back now and wonder what the hell was I doing? I should of hit him and knocked him out."

Alvarez said he eventually got the suspect in a body lock and chokehold, and the clerk called the police.

Police arrested Luis Rosales, 31, at the scene. Authorities said a loaded 9-millimeter handgun and the money from the cash register were found inside Rosales' backpack.

The two Oregonians are competing Saturday in the World Jiu-Jitsue No-Gi Championship in Long Beach. Alvarez said he has four to seven cage fights lined up.

"I might have more butterflies than usual because I already had my fight for this week," he said.


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-- Gale Holland