The first time for anything will always be special and cherished. Though it was definitely not Andre Soukhamhthath’s first time with the win (he’d even been the bantamweight champ for CES MMA), it was his first win for the UFC. And what a win it was.
This was long in the making. The Asian Sensation had been victim to two split-decision losses, leaving him on thin ice going forward with a record of 0-2 in the UFC. With much to gain and little lose, Soukhamthath took this fight on 2 weeks’ notice and sealed the deal for one last chance in UFC Fight Night 123 in Fresno, California. Luke Sanders, Soukhamthath’s opponent, was probably content that Bryan Caraway, his original opponent, was pulled from the fight due to injury. Little did he know that Soukhamthath had gone straight back to the drawing board after his loss to Alejandro Perez. The words “two-week notice” might have given Sanders a confidence boost, but it didn’t mean much since his would-be opponent rarely took a day-off in hopes for a fight.
The bell rung, and from then, Soukhamthath caught Sanders with a right-hook in the second round. Sanders dropped like a fly, scrambling to get back on his feet as Soukhamthath bludgeoned him via ground-n-pound. At one point, due to the flurry of Soukhamthath’s hammer-fists, Sanders grabbed the ref’s leg in what was interpreted as cry for help. The referee called it. Soukhamthath screamed with joy, but Sanders called an early-stoppage, which the referee starkly refuted. During his post-interview, the Asian Sensation expressed concerns over being potentially cut: “I took this fight on two weeks’ notice, and I knew he had a full camp. Me and my coaches knew he was planning on coming out hard, and he did. But I know how tough I am and how good my chin is and how good my wrestling defense is. I just weathered the storm, and I literally put all my energy into one punch, and it worked.” Boy did it work. Soukhamthath wants to keep the momentum going forward, as he later proclaimed that he’d miss even Christmas or New Years to get another chance in the near future.
In title news, George St. Pierre has finally vacated his middleweight title, leaving the belt up for grabs between interim champ Robert Whittaker and Luke Rockhold. The fight will be the headliner for UFC 221 in Perth, Australia. With the announcement, it’s hands-on-deck at Hard Knocks 365 as Henri Hooft prepared the former middleweight champ for his deserved title shot.