Amateur or professional, win or lose, every fighter has had that one fight in their career that stands out above all others.
Whether it be the skill level of their opponent, the sheer toughness and grit of the fight itself, or what’s going on in life outside of the cage, every fighter has dealt with the adversity of a tough fight.
In the third edition of Rigorous Rounds, Ali Wasuk, Jared Kilkenny, Shawn Wallace, Samson Bieri, and Chris Lee Byrne reveal the toughest fight they’ve had so far in their careers.
Jared Kilkenny – Toughest Fight: Dwayne Lewis
“Me and ‘D-Bomb’ danced on two separate occasions; once at heavyweight on a Rumble in the Cage card and once at light heavyweight on an MFC card. We split with me winning at heavyweight and Dwayne destroying me at light heavyweight. The reason he is the toughest is twofold; when I managed to get the win over Dwayne, it was a hard-fought, tightly-contested decision, and the only time in my career I went to a decision, win or lose. That tough S.O.B. stood in front of me for the entire fight. When I cut to 205 pounds, Dwayne thoroughly outclassed me, getting the first round TKO stoppage.”
Shawn Wallace – Toughest Fight: Mandel Nallo
“I took that fight on four weeks notice not knowing much about him. Looking back now, I was not prepared for him physically or mentally. He was listed as 5’11” (the same as me) online, but standing across from him at the weigh-ins showed he was much taller. I couldn’t come up with a method to victory in my mind and figured I would just wing it once I got in there. That proved to be a mistake as, other than a nice body kick on my part, he dominated the fight and submitted me early in the first round. That loss took away my undefeated record, but taught me many lessons about myself and the fight game. I have grown tremendously from that point and can’t wait to compete again.”
Samson Bieri – Toughest Fight: Skylar Sloan
“I came back from Switzerland and trained for like two weeks, so needless to say I was not in great shape. I was coming off back-to-back knockouts and I thought it would be another easy win. Then, I realized how tough this guy was as we put on an absolute banger of a fight. I also stayed on my back trying to recover and not doing much to stand up, which was a good learning lesson. But he was a pretty good boxer, pushed a good pace, and made me deal with a lot of pressure after hurting me with a body shot. I pushed through a lot to win that one, but also had the most fun in there I’ve ever had.”
Ali Wasuk – Toughest Fight: Each Opponent at 2017 IMMAF World Championships
“Fighting three times in three days, making weight every morning and, if you didn’t make weight, you would be disqualified, even if you’re 0.1 pound over. I was fighting the top fighters from all around the world who all came in with the same goal as me. If I could do it again 100 times, I would though. It was one of my best experiences to date.”
Chris Lee Byrne – Toughest Fight: Andrew Walsh
“It was my MMA debut, but I was only a blue belt in BJJ trying to brawl. He (Walsh) has stopped fighting now, but was undefeated and I never felt out of my depth or in too much danger. He came prepared with Jeff Joslin coaching him and was much better at switching skill sets and the sport overall. When I thought we were striking he would take me down. When I thought we were grappling, he would stand up. I felt I put him in danger a few times, but overall he just got the job done. The frustrating part or tough part was not getting hit hard or finished, but he was just keeping me out of rhythm and never letting me dictate pace, or where or how we were fighting. I learned a lot that fight and I really respect anyone who comes out of Jeff Joslin’s gym.”