Johny Hendricks’ bare-knuckle fighting debut did not go as he might have hoped.
The former UFC welterweight champion was knocked out at 21 seconds of the second round by Dakota Cochrane in the co-main event of the World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation debut card Friday night in Casper, Wyo.
Cochrane opened up a nasty cut under Hendricks’ eye in the first round and then finished with a huge right hand early in the second. It was a fairly one-sided affair. After the right, Hendricks dropped to his knees and the referee waved off the contest.
Hendricks was supposed to fight Brennan Ward on this card, but Ward pulled out this week due to contractual issues. Cochrane, who was already set to compete on the card, filled in.
“I am super pumped. thank you everybody for coming,” Cochrane said afterward. “Even if you didn’t believe in me, I appreciate it. That drives me.”
Hendricks, 34, announced his retirement from MMA in June after his departure from the UFC last year. In MMA, the Texas resident had lost two straight and five of his last six. For a period of four or five years, Hendricks was considered either the best MMA welterweight in the world or one of the best welterweights in the world.
Cochrane, 32, is coming off a loss in MMA against Scott Futrell at DCS 45 in July. The Ultimate Fighter alum had won five straight prior to that. Cochrane has also fought for Bellator, Titan FC, Legacy and RFA.
Afterward, Cochrane said bare-knuckle fighting has its differences from MMA.
“Definitely different for sure, but I love throwing that right hand,” he said. “I never wrap in practice. Never any of that. So I can throw that hard.”
In the main event, Chris Leben finished Phil Baroni by TKO at 1:19 in a bizarre affair. Baroni began the fight going for body locks — almost like full-on takedowns, which are illegal in bare-knuckle fighting. Leben landed counter punches as Baroni came in. And a short left put Baroni down on the third clinch attempt. The referee waved it off when Baroni struggled to get back to his feet.
“On the third one, I saw it and came across with the left,” Leben said. “The third time was the charm.”
Both Leben and Baroni are longtime MMA veterans. Leben retired from the UFC in 2013 following an 11-year career. “The Crippler,” an Oregon native, was once one of the best middleweight MMA fighters in the world. Leben, 38, has always been known for his exciting fighting style and punching power.
Baroni, 42, last fought in MMA earlier this year, beating Matt Lagler by TKO under the King of the Cage banner in May. The Long Island native, also known as the “New York Bad Ass,” had not fought in mixed martial arts for four years prior to that bout six months ago.
Christina Marks, just about a year removed from her stint on The Ultimate Fighter 26, defeated Jasmine Clarkson via TKO at 1:54 of the second round in the only women’s fight on the card. Marks, who fell to Montana De La Rosa on the TUF 26 Finale last December, opened up nasty cuts on Clarkson’s face and the bout was stopped when Clarkson clutched her eye with just seconds remaining in the second
UFC veteran Robbie Peralta defeated Ultimate Fighter alum Jay Cucciniello by unanimous decision and South African MMA vet Leon Mynhardt knocked off Nick Gonzalez by second-round TKO in first-round matchups of a lightweight tournament. The winner of the tourney, which will be decided on a future card, will take home $100,000.
Also advancing in the tournament was Mike Bronzoulis, was scheduled to fight Estevan Payan on the card Friday. WBKFF president Bas Rutten announced on the broadcast that Payan was pulled by the Wyoming commission before the event and Bronzoulis would be awarded a spot in the next round.
Also on the main card, Joey Muñoz beat Marcelo Alfaya via majority decision, longtime MMA veteran Josh Neer finished Mike Alderete by third-round TKO and TUF alum Julian Lane beat Joey Angelo by split decision.
In the main card opener, UFC and Strikeforce veteran Isaac Vallie-Flagg defeated Cory Simpson by second-round TKO due to body shots.
On the prelims, Juan Torres beat CJ Leveque by second-round TKO and Jeff Chiffens stopped Fred Piece by first-round TKO.