DULUTH -- With former Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight champion Rich Franklin in attendance, 790 The Zone's Jose Santiago as ring announcer and what looked to be a near capacity crowd in attendance, the atmosphere at Saturday's Wild Bill's Fight Night 29 was truly electric.
And while the much anticipated Jeff Boudreaux vs. Will Kuhn fight arguably failed to live up to its hype, Athens fighters Tommy Hurley and Lawson McClure stole the show and captured the imagination of all in attendance with their respective victories.
Welcomed by the loudest cheers of any competitor in the fighter introductions, Hurley was the second fighter to make his MMA debut Saturday night. His opponent, Marietta's Sean Fajay, came out swinging and brought Hurley to the ground, but Hurley quickly countered. It looked like this fight would go back and forth, but Fajay would tap out at the 1:18 mark in the first round, bringing the contest to a close. The crowd erupted and Hurley embraced everyone in his corner as he was recognized as the winner.
The heavy hitters in the card's second half featured McClure taking on Ran Weathers in a fight closely resembling a boxing bout with more punches than takedowns. McClure cut Weathers at the end of the first round and continued to bloody him with repeated punches and knees to the face and body throughout the fight. Not to be outdone, Weathers responded with some haymakers of his own in the third and final round, leaving some doubt as to whom the judges' decision would go to. The final scorecards read 29-28, 30-27 and 29-28 in favor McClure, the winner by unanimous decision.
Douglasville's Eddie Walker's professional debut against Knoxville's Devan Plaisance was over before it even started. Both fighters came out hard, but a quick counter-move on the ground ended the fight in 57 seconds with Walker tapping out and appearing to have injured his right arm. Plaisance evened his professional record at 5-5-0.
Even before the opening bell, Conyers' Boudreaux and Atlanta's Kuhn were taunting each other and even bumped one another during the referee's instructions.
The taunting didn't continue through the fight, though, as it went the distance for a judge's decision.
It wasn't quite the crowd pleaser of the earlier Weathers-McClure fight with more boos than cheers coming from the crowd. Despite a late flurry from Kuhn, Boudreaux was the winner by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
New York's Andrew Montanez, the most experienced fighter from Saturday night, and North Carolina's Dustin Chovanic ended with less than one minute left in the final round. It looked like Chovanic was going to end the fight early in the final round, knocking Montanez out of the ring into the first row, but Montanez would come right back, putting Chovanic on the ground, flipping him on his back, and forced Chovanic to tap out at the 4:09 mark to win the night's main event and also the title belt for an East Coast Championship.
Douglasville's Leon Morris made his MMA debut against Woodstock's Ian Murray. Murray punished Morris on the ground until he tapped out at the 1:39 mark in the round to even his career record at 1-1-0.
Miami's Napoleon Etienne wore down Columbus' Justin Sizemore with blow after blow to the body until he was brought to the ground a final time with a sweeping right hook and finally tapped out at the 2:14 mark in the final round.
Much like the Etienne-Sizemore fight, the ladies' fight on the card pitting Atlanta's MayEllen Cano against Asheville's Linda Cunningham would also be a mismatch. Making her professional debut, Cano pounded on Cunningham early and often, finally getting her on her back on the ground that led to her eventually tapping out at the 1:51 mark in the first round.