HAMMOND, Ind. — Nico Jefferson threw his heavy hands, but Mattia Fonda’s ground game got him to tap in the second round during Friday night’s lightweight bout at Hoosier Fight Club 40.
Jefferson (1-2) threw some hard punches before Fonda took him down in the first round. The 35-year-old Kankakeean persevered through the end of the round.
In the second round, Jefferson threw a flurry of punches, causing Fonda to slightly stumble. Fonda, however, threw a few punches to set up a takedown. He sinked Jefferson with a rear naked choke.
“He’s tough,” Jefferson said after the fight. “I hit him with some good shots. He was able to weather that storm. He did what he does best. I made a couple mistakes, and he capitalized. I can’t take anything away from him. He did what he was supposed to do. Hats off to him.”
It was the second consecutive professional fight that Jefferson has lost due to a rear naked choke. Going into the fight, he planned on throwing heavy punches and defending Fonda’s takedown attempts.
“Nico went out, did some things we wanted him to do and didn’t do some things we wanted him to do,” said Doug Keast, Jefferson’s coach at Genesis Martial Arts & Fitness in Bradley.
“He has heavy hands. Mattia told him at the end of the fight that that’s the hardest he has ever been hit. We just needed to get a couple more in. We have to work on standing him up and keeping him off his back.”
Fonda (2-2) knew what to expect against Jefferson. Instead of taking damage to force a takedown, he used his hands.
“We know who the guy is,” Fonda said. “Nico ‘Boom Boom’ is a very good striker. I had to go out there as a man and prove to myself that wrestlers can strike, too. That’s what I showed tonight.”
Though he ultimately ended it on the ground, Fonda welcomed the chance for the two fighters to throw down in the ring.
“[Nico] could have knocked me out cold, definitely,” Fonda said. “His hands are strong. His striking is on point. He was giving me hooks. I was giving him hooks. In the end, we saw each other, and we both wanted to bang.
“There was a mutual respect. It was great. It’s the best thing in the world to see a fighter who has a look in his eyes and lets you know we’re ready to brawl. It was a tough fight.”
After getting his hand raised, Fonda dropped his head down to the center of the ring with an Italian flag. Jefferson joined him.
“It’s respect,” Fonda said. “Nico is a father just like I am. I can fully understand what it’s like to go home to a kid, to a family, to support. This isn’t just a sport for us. It’s for other fathers and mothers out there. This is our life. I bow down because I really respect the guy. I couldn’t be happier to fight a guy like him.”
With just a scratch on his forehead, Jefferson is ready to move on to his next fight. He plans on fighting another professional bout in mid-November in Minnesota.
“I was in great shape. I just made a mistake, man,” Jefferson said. “I’m going to get back to the gym on Monday and get ready for the next one.”