LINCOLN --- Andre Soukhamthath dominated the first half of his marquee bantamweight fight on Friday night.
His opponent, Kin â€śKongâ€ť Moy, took charge of the second half.
And after three hard-fought, crowd-pleasing rounds, their fates rested in the hands of the judges, and in a matchup many people billed a â€śpickâ€™ emâ€ť fight, all three chose Moy â€“ and not the hometown favorite Soukhamthath â€“ as the winner by 29-28 scores.
The announcement of the unanimous decision silenced a good percentage of the fans at the Twin River Event Center, but the fight itself became the most talked about battle among the nine featured on the â€śCES MMA XXIâ€ť card.
Moy, a resident of Cambridge, Mass. who fights out of Redline Fight Sports near his address, boosted his record to 4-0 in going the distance for the first time in his 14-month career. His other three wins came via submissions.
For Soukhamthath, the Woonsocket fighter who currently calls Boca Raton, Fla. home as he trains with the highly-touted Blackzilians, his seven-fight win streak â€“ a Classic Entertainment & Sports, Inc. record â€“ came to a halt, and he gave credit to where it was due.
â€śHe definitely surprised me,â€ť Soukhamthath (7-2, 4 KOs) said of Moy. â€śHe was stronger and more solid than I thought he was. I didnâ€™t underestimate him; he was just the better man tonight. He had an answer for everything I did.â€ť
Right from the start, Soukhamthath gave the SRO crowd the feeling that this was going to be his night. He delivered four takedowns of Moy and had him either on the ground or against the fence for a good chunk of the first round, but he was unable to submit Moy or do any damage to him.
â€śI usually do damage on the floor, but I just couldnâ€™t really capitalize on my takedowns,â€ť said Soukhamthath. â€śI was focused more on holding him down, and I couldnâ€™t find the position to get up and strike. Lesson learned. It never happened before, so thereâ€™s a first time for everything.â€ť
Soukhamthath launched the second round with two more takedowns, but the tables slowly began to turn in Moyâ€™s favor.
Halfway through the round, Moy brought Soukhamthath to the mat and tried to choke him out near Soukhamthathâ€™s corner. Soukhamthath escaped Moyâ€™s grasps, but Moy answered back by controlling the final minute of action.
â€śI was feeling good in the second round until I got reversed, and thatâ€™s when he started taking the wind out of me,â€ť said Souhkamthath. â€śHe was solid on top, and every time I tried to escape, he had an answer.â€ť
The third round clearly belonged to Moy. He kept Soukhamthath on the mat for the bulk of it and doled out most of his abuse during these five minutes. His array of punches and elbows left Soukhamthath with plenty of swelling under his left eye and scrapes under his right.
â€śHe got me with a lot of nice shots [while he was] going for chokes,â€ť noted Soukhamthath. â€śHe stayed busy. He had better positions, he made the best of them, and he stayed on top.â€ť
To his defense, Soukhamthath spent most of the week dealing with a family matter that left him with a heavy heart heading into his fight. But when he was asked about it, Soukhamthath refused to use it as an excuse for his loss.
â€śIâ€™m not the type to make excuses,â€ť he remarked. â€śI lost. (Moy) fought great tonight and he deserved to win. I fought my heart out, thatâ€™s all I can say. I just hope I didnâ€™t let anybody down. I hope I gained some fans, and I hope I didnâ€™t lose any. And I hope my city still stands behind me.â€ť
The fight was the third in four months for Soukhamthath, who looked like he endured those three fights in the same night after the fight. He spent nearly a half hour sprawled out and slouched on a couch in his dressing room, slowly sipping an orange juice one of his cornermen fetched for him.
â€śI think Iâ€™m going to take a break,â€ť noted Soukhamthath. â€śThis is three cards in a row that I fought. I wanted to fight, I wanted to stay busy, and things are working well for me, but I think Iâ€™m going to take a break now and focus on getting better. Youâ€™ll definitely see me back.â€ť
Follow Eric Benevides on Twitter @EricBen24