If you’re a fan of finishes, Rumble in the Cage 58 was the event for you.
10 of the 13 total fights on the card in Lethbridge, Alta. didn’t make it to the final bell at the Servus Sports Centre Friday Night.
In the main event of the evening, Craig Hudson (5-6) shocked the Lethbridge crowd, coming away with the TKO victory at 1:43 of the first round over the hometown hero Jared Kilkenny (13-10) in their professional heavyweight bout.
Hudson maintained constant pressure the entire fight with precision striking, which he knew was doing plenty of damage.
“I could hear him getting hurt as I was hitting him,” said Hudson in an interview.
“I heard him making noises from taking the blows, and that’s when I turned it on.”
Hudson put a lot of work in with the Canadian heavyweight boxing champion Mladen Miljas leading up to this bout to fine-tune his striking.
He said he was expecting Kilkenny to try for a takedown, but when he kept it on the feet, it allowed Hudson to execute his game plan.
“My plan was to push forward on him and get him back-pedalling,” said Hudson.
“I just wanted to keep raining down big punches, and hope the power and precision of the punches would soften him up early, which it did.”
Neufeld Remains Undefeated as a Professional
In the co-main event, the hometown favourite, Lucas Neufeld (3-0), displayed his strong jiu-jitsu game once again, forcing Nick Bell (2-2) to tap out at 4:13 of the first round due to a half-guillotine choke in their professional featherweight bout.
Prior to the submission, Neufeld maintained constant ground-and-pound pressure once he got Bell to the mat, following a brief exchange on the feet in which both fighters connected with solid shots.
“He’s a tough kid, but I was just wearing him down, and hitting him with shots from every angle,” said Neufeld in an interview.
“I’m kind of relentless like that, and I like to be creative with my striking.”
Neufeld remains undefeated as a professional, and stretched his win streak to six-straight, including amateur fights.
Neufeld said he’s looking to crack the top-25 in Canada, and hopes this victory has put him on the radar of other featherweights in the country.
“I’m healthy, I’m deadly, I’m lethal, and I’m ready to go,” said Neufeld.
“I just want to keep training, recovering, and I’m looking for that next fight card.”
Heinz Successful in Heavyweight Debut
In the other professional heavyweight bout, Josh Heinz (4-1) put on an impressive performance in front of his hometown crowd, forcing Jared Henderson (4-5) to tap out due to rear-naked choke at 3:55 of the first round.
After landing multiple solid strikes on the feet that didn’t phase Henderson, Heinz secured the takedown and efficiently executed his ground-and-pound to open up the submission attempt.
“As soon as I started hitting him in mount, I knew he was going to turn, and I could sink the choke in,” said Heinz in an interview.
“I haven’t had a submission win since my first amateur fight, so it felt pretty nice to switch it up and show I still have a jiu-jitsu game.”
This was Heinz’s first bout in the heavyweight division, but he said he’s unsure if he’ll fight again in the weight class.
Although he felt fast and said his speed played a big role in his victory, he said he just didn’t feel right as a heavyweight, and whether or not he competes at heavyweight again will depend on the opponent.
“I felt small in there as a heavyweight,” said Heinz.
“I felt fast, which is great, but for the future, it depends on the heavyweight. It depends who it is.”
Heinz, a former hockey player in Saskatchewan, would like to send his thoughts and prayers to all those affected by the Humboldt tragedy, in addition to dying his hair green and wearing their colours on his shorts and walkout shirt.
In other main card action, Sheldon Doll, Colton Cronkite, Rio Gillis, and Joel Odorski all walked away with victories of their own.
The gold medal matches for the 2018 Canadian National Amateur Championship were also featured in the evening’s action. John Woo, James Nelson, Nick LeBlanc, Albaraa Atmeh, Dragos Robertson, and Tye Mcentire all ended the night with gold around their necks, while Lorenzo Celis bested Will Woo in a 220-pound catchweight bout.
Mcentire was scheduled to face Gurpaul Sahota, as a replacement for the injured Jett Grande, but the bout was canceled, earning Mcentire the gold.