KANKAKEE — No one expected Nico Jefferson and Sam Agushi to go the distance in Saturday night’s 160-pound bout at MoreMMA XV.
It was a classic matchup between two finishers — Jefferson, the knockout artist, versus Agushi, the submission wizard. Many considered it a pro-caliber fight.
“I knew it wasn’t going the distance, whether he finished me or I finished him,” Jefferson said. “He and I have more than 25 knockouts and submissions combined. When you get two fighters with all those finishes, it isn’t going to come down to a decision.”
Jefferson finished his amateur career at home, knocking out Agushi in the second round of a fight that lived up to its hype. It was just what he needed as the 34-year-old Kankakeean prepares to make his pro debut in August.
Agushi brought a surprise element to his game by throwing several highlight-reel kicks during the match.
“His first kick surprised me,” Jefferson said. “He clipped me in the head. I realized right away that I needed to get on my game. It really woke me up a bit. I was keyed in on takedown defense, and he threw something different at me.”
Jefferson, however, took advantage of Agushi’s high-risk kick attempts. He caught several of Agushi’s kicks and countered with punches that knocked Agushi to the ground multiple times.
“My game plan was to come in here and show how I train,” Agushi said. “I train in martial arts. I train in aggression. I am super comfortable on the ground, and I wanted to show what I could do all around. I did that. Hopefully, everyone saw me as more than just a grappler.”
In the end, Jefferson capitalized on a failed kick attempt by Agushi and sent him into the ground. Jefferson pounced on Agushi and delivered a flurry of punches before officials called the match late in the second round.
“Once Nico settled down, he was able to throw what he wanted when he wanted,” said Doug Keast, Jefferson’s coach at Genesis Martial Arts and Fitness in Bradley. “After that, he didn’t let Sam dictate the pace. That changed the whole complexity of the fight.”
Agushi praised Jefferson after their fight.
“He did what he came out to do,” Agushi said. “He finished the fight. He swung hard and fast. I swung hard and fast. It was a show. He’s got power. He’s got speed. I wish him the best.”
Jefferson’s record improved to 17-6 with 12 knockouts. Now, after a year of battling injuries and waiting for a pro fight, his amateur career is over. He expects to make his pro debut in August.
“This is it. This is it. This is it,” Jefferson said after the fight with a laugh. “I had the storybook ending three knockouts ago. I won’t be walking through those doors again unless it’s to coach. I’m ready to go pro.”