PROVIDENCE — On this night, Andre Soukhamthath was not going to be denied.
Not in his return to Providence, where he has plenty of friends and family members and spent the first half of his life before moving to Woonsocket. And certainly not in his very first fight in the bright spotlight of the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
The 23-year-old bantamweight delighted a small, but fired-up crowd by delivering one of the most dominant victories – and certainly one of the most bloodiest – on this past weekend’s “Real Pain” card, presented by Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports, Inc., in association with June Entertainment and 4zero1 Entertainment Group.
Soukhamthath improved to 3-1 (2 KOs) with a knockout victory over Rob Costa of Fall River, Mass. by landing a vicious right elbow a few inches above Costa’s right eye that splattered blood all over his forehead and forced the ringside physician and referee Kevin McDonald to mercifully stop the bout with 16 seconds left in the second round.
Aside from catching Soukhamthath with a right early in the opening round and landing a mild takedown at the start of the second, Costa (2-2) was never a threat to the Woonsocket fighter.
Soukhamthath pelted Costa with some kicks early in each round before twice slamming Costa to the canvas (midway through the first round and 1:15 into the second) and keeping him on his back as he tried to land punches and elbows on Costa while he covered up.
But with time running out in the second round, Soukhamthath’s elbow found its mark on Costa, and once McDonald saw the blood flowing freely from Costa’s head, he waved off Soukhamthath and called for the physician, who wasted little time in deeming Costa not suitable to finish the fight.
“I felt great tonight,” said Soukhamthath. “I know I train with the best guys I could train with, and I just felt really confident. This is a dream come true, fighting in my hometown, fighting at the Dunk, my family and friends here. And to do what I did today? I couldn’t ask for more.”
All in all, it was a great night for the Rhode Island fighters who took part in the show, except for Pawtucket’s Todd Chattelle, who suffered a shocking TKO loss to Boulder, Colo.’s Chandler Holderness just 27 seconds into their middleweight clash, which came before the main event that saw 43-year-old six-time World Wrestling Entertainment champion Dave Bautista win his MMA debut with a late first-round TKO of journeyman Vince Lucero.
Holderness, who regularly trains out of Boston with former Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter John “Doomsday” Howard, raised his record to 10-3 and produced the fifth knockout victory of his career. He opened the fight by running straight at Chattelle (10-8) and delivering a flying knee that caught Chattelle in the chest and briefly stunned him, and he ended it by pinning Chattelle on the canvas and firing off a series of unanswered elbows that eventually forced McDonald to step it between the two fighters and halt the fight.
The other Pawtucket fighter that was supposed to be on the card, welterweight Keith Jeffrey, found himself off it during the past week after his opponent, former UFC veteran Chad Reiner of Omaha, Neb., was unable to make the 170-pound weight (and agree to a 175-, 180-, or 185-pound catch weight with Jeffrey) or find a way to get a flight to Warwick.
Jeffrey, who is the fifth-ranked welterweight in the region, was still at the show and joined his brother and Tri-Force MMA co-owner Pete Jeffrey in serving as a cornerman for Soukhamthath, Jeffrey, and the other Tri-Force MMA fighters on the card.
And among the other Tri-Force MMA fighters who electrified the local fans were middleweight and former Johnson & Wales standout wrestler Brennan Ward (4-0, 3 KOs) of Providence, who used his fists to earn a TKO victory over Shedrick Goodridge of Rahway, N.J. 2:36 into the fight, and welterweight Nate Andrews (2-0) of Cranston, who used a guillotine to land an early second-round victory over Leon Davis of Springfield, Mass.
Providence lightweight Mike “The Beast” Campbell, who is 11-4 (7 KOs) and ranked No. 5 in his weight class in the region, also earned a hard-fought 30-27, 30-27, 30-27 victory over Gemiyale Adkins of Philadelphia, and Providence light heavyweight Greg Rebello (14-4), who is ranked third in the northeast, used a rear-naked chokehold to put away Chris Guillen of St. George, Utah 2:26 into their fight.