Keith Jardine won in front of his Albuquerque crowd Friday night. | Daniel Archuleta/Sherdog.com
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- For Keith Jardine, it was another step on the road back to the UFC. For Holly "Hottie" Holm, it was a rousing beginning to her mixed martial arts career.
Both Jardine and Holm were victorious in their co-featured bouts as part of Fresquez Productions' "Double Threat" at the Route 66 Casino in Albuquerque on Friday night. Jardine earned a stoppage victory over Austin, Texas' Aron Lofton at 3:30 of the opening round in their light heavyweight match. Meanwhile, Holm staggered Wisconsin native Christina "Machine Gun" Domke with leg kicks throughout their 135-pound tussle, the last of which left the Wisconsin native unable to stand, giving the boxing star a knockout triumph at 3:58 of the second round in the night’s co-feature.
Jardine has been known for his tendency to engage in striking wars in recent bouts, but in the first fight in his hometown since 2004, "The Dean of Mean" took a different approach.
After Lofton stunned "The Ultimate Fighter" Season 2 veteran with a punch in the clinch, Jardine recovered to land a brutal kick to the body. With the Triton Fight Center product hurting, the 35-year-old “Dean of Mean” was able to slam his opponent to the ground and finish the fight with strikes.
"I think he was off balance, I think he got hit. If he wouldn’t have been off balance it wouldn’t have been such a big deal, but scared us," Jardine’s striking coach Mike Winkeljohn told Sherdog.com after the bout.
Jardine admitted that Lofton had decent power.
"That guy’s got really heavy hands, and I’m working on my inside fighting a lot, so I knew I was kind of taking a risk with that," he said.
However, it was his teammate who actually got Jardine’s blood circulating.
"When I heard Holly go out and heard everybody yelling 'Holly, Holly,' it really pumped me up," Jardine said.
Although she momentarily forgot she was in an MMA bout, Holm displayed an impressive skill set in her first cage experience. When the veteran of 33 pro boxing matches floored the Wisconsin native with what would turn out to be her final leg kick of the night, Holm turned and bounced in the direction of her corner as if expecting a mandatory eight count to be administered.
Holm punctuated many of her combinations with devastating leg and body kicks. Although she became one of boxing’s most achieved 140 and 147-pound women’s champions, Holm began her combat sports career as a kickboxer, and those roots were evident in her MMA debut.
"I probably threw a few more leg kicks on the outside than I should have, but there was a couple times I threw the kicks without the punches, and my coach was like, 'Holly, throw hands first.' I had to bring myself back to that and throw them at the right time," said Holm.
When Domke shot for a takedown and earned full mount in the opening frame -- the first time in her career Holm has been on her back -- the 29-year old Jackson’s MMA product responded by quickly getting the fight upright again, passing what many considered to be the biggest test in her transition to a new sport.
"I really was not planning on being there at all. For the whole training camp, if I get there, I just want to work on getting out of it. Even if I’m not worried, and she’s not hitting me hard, it just looks bad," Holm said.
Credit the training camp for Holm’s resilience on the ground, said Greg Jackson.
"I wasn’t worried at all because Julie Kedzie has been mounting Holly, and Holly’s been working out of that for the last six weeks straight. When she was taken down, I know that Julie had put in so much work with her that it was going to be a matter of time before she got back up," Jackson said.
The card also showcased a quartet of professional debuts, including two fighters representing Keith Jardine’s gym, Mean1 MMA and Fitness.
Albuquerque native Trey Solomon defeated Mean1’s Tim Dennisson via TKO at 4:35 of the third round in a 160-pound tilt. Dennisson was able to escape a multitude of submission attempts for two rounds, but was pounded out in the final frame.
In the evening’s first professional fight, Mean1 light heavyweight Lionel Lanham survived an early assault from Roswell, N.M., native Guto Feliciano to score a stoppage at 4:08 of round one.
In amateur action, Mean1’s Eric Evans battered Eric Sudduth of Hobbs, N.M., with ground-and-pound before finishing his opponent with an arm-triangle choke at 57 seconds of the second round in a heavyweight affair.
In a pair of 175-pound catch-weight bouts, two Mean1 reps went down as Logan Sims couldn’t stand up to Martin Sano Jr.'s onslaught as the El Pasoan took a second-round stoppage at 1:12 of the frame, while Lalo Chavez from Albuquerque’s Chavez Dojo stopped Shannon Curlee in just 73 seconds.
Sandoval Fighting System’s Patrick Ayala crumpled Giovanni Monarez with a right leg kick before finishing the fight with punches on the ground to take a first-round stoppage victory at featherweight.
Mean1 representative Steve Garcia drilled Josey Boatright with a head kick to earn a knockout just 16 seconds into the opening round of their bantamweight bout, while teammate David Meijas tapped Team Roswell’s Daniel Garcia via triangle choke at 2:20 of the third round in their flyweight contest.