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 second edition of Rigorous Rounds, Tom Theocharis, Scott Hudson, Marlan Hall, Mark Mosure, and James Clarke reveal the toughest fight they’ve had so far in their careers.
Tom Theocharis – Toughest Fight: Alex Martinez
“The fight was at Hard Knocks 47 in Calgary for the 155-pound amateur title on November 13, 2015. At the time, I was 4-0 and he was 10-3. Alex is an amazing fighter who was running through his opponents. Two losses of his were to the same opponent, both for the amateur world championship. Alex was ranked first in all of Canada, so this fight not only was a huge step up in competition, it was a huge opportunity for me to jump the rankings and prove to everybody I belonged fighting the best fighters.
“It wasn’t the fight itself that was very tough, it was the buildup. I was actually really nervous to fight him just because of his pedigree. The guy was, and still is a killer. Right now, I believe he’s 6-0 as a professional. The fight ended up going really well; I actually believe I won the first round, but I got caught and then submitted in the second. Most of the time, the fight themselves against your opponents are not the most difficult, it’s the fight against yourself, and that fight I clearly lost to not only Alex, but to myself.”
Mark Mosure – Toughest Fight: Christian Leroy Duncan
“No excuses here. He’s just a really solid fighter that got the best of me that day. He ended up getting a silver medal at the tournament that year and was ranked first in the UK at the time. He had a bunch of experience on me and I didn’t know what to expect with not having my regular team with me (bit of an excuse there). I had some moments for sure, but he won the first and the doctor ended up stopping the fight in the second round after he front kicked my nose and busted it up pretty good, I wish I could’ve at least gone the distance, but that’s the way she goes. Maybe I wasn’t quite ready at the time, but f**k it. I showed up to fight the best amateurs in the world, gained a ton of useful experience and competed. Bonus that I got to drink some beers on the beach in Italy afterwords.”
Scott Hudson – Toughest Fight: Kyle Prepolec/Islam Makoev
“Kyle wasn’t necessarily the toughest fight, but he was, by far, the toughest to get a reaction out of. I was hitting him really hard with kicks and he wasn’t giving me an inch back. I knew if he was going to beat me he would have to take big risks to come forward, and he did it anyway. I prepared for a battle for control, and it was. The dude is just so mentally tough and doesn’t really wear his damage. It’s hard to gauge where you are at in the fight, and lead me to start making mistakes.”
Marlan Hall – Toughest Fight: Brian Farley
“This was a fight that’s not on record because it was done without a commission, on the Rez, in a gymnasium. The first six of my fights were all like that.
“I was matched with, apparently, the state champion wrestler. The promoter liked me and initially didn’t want to make the matchup, but how the fights were setup, you showed up, weighed in, and they start match-making you right then and there. So, I got matched with Brian in the end.
“The fight starts and right away, like 10 seconds in, he shoots a takedown after I just threw my first low kick. He picks me up and just slams me. I had never done a jiu-jitsu class; I simply sparred with friends and watched YouTube videos, so I didn’t really know what I was doing on the ground. He starts raining hell fire with ground and pound. At this point, my head is bouncing off the canvas and, no word of a lie, I literally start thinking ‘he’s going tire out if he keeps punching me.’ My fight IQ was negative 100 at this stage of my life. So, it’s almost the end of the round, and he lets me back up. I’m confused on why he did that, but whatever. I’ll take it. Before the round ends, he lands this huge haymaker, and my whole body hits, but mostly my head bounces off the cage, and the round ends. I am exhausted.
“This is my second amateur fight, so I probably wasn’t breathing or anything. Not to mention for an entire three minutes this guy was beating the living hell out of me. Fun times! To this day, I’ve never been as tired as I was on that stool. I’ve been tired in fights, but never had I felt so beaten and feel so jello. My lungs felt like they were on fire. The thing that sparked me back to life is that when I looked over, I could see this guy had nothing left in the gas tank. He actually tired himself out punching me.
“The next round starts and I just marched forward. If I’m going down, I’m not going to just let this guy do what he wants; I’m going to take it to him. So, I marched toward him, landing my shots finally. This guy is fading with each shot I’m landing, and by a minute in, I crack him with a right hand and I see his leg wobbled. So, I threw a high kick and slipped. He goes to jump on me, but I start shooting my own takedown. He grabs onto a guillotine, but I jump to the correct side. He’s holding onto it like an amateur would. Funny thing, the night before I was looking up von flue chokes on YouTube. So, I put him in a von flue and I could hear him gurgle, just enough for him to let go. From there, I full mount him and just start my own ground and pound. He was trying to bait me with an arm bar, but the referee was looking closely, so I decided to stick with ground and pound. And what do you know, boom, the referee stops the fight. TKO in the second round against my toughest opponent to date.
“This was an experience I’ll never forget, unless I have more fights like that and get CTE. But until that happens, I’m going to love that memory.”
James Clarke – Toughest Fight: All Opponents
“I couldn’t just pick one opponent as I have a level of respect for anyone who beat my ass in the cage, including amateur days. Starting with my debut fight against Louis Jourdain. After that, I won 12 straight till I lost against Tony Laramie. He walked out in a sling and took the belt with him. I ended my amateur career at 13-2, went professional, won my debut, then lost three in a row to Jordan Graham, James Mancini, and Mateo Vogel, giving me a 1-3 professional record. I won my last three in a row, ending up with a winning record of 4-3, and the BTC title. After that, I tried out for One Championship in tournament style called the Gamma World Championships in Singapore. It’s amateur fights with pro fighters. I made 125 pounds four days in a row and fought four times, only losing a controversial fight in the finals against Talgat Zhumagaliev, so technically I went 6-1 in 2019.”