Josh Quayhagen retained his karate fighting title, surviving a first-round knockdown to defeat Dionicio Gustavo.
The bout served as the main event for the card on CBS Sports Network.
He attributes his amazing willpower in part to a Rocky-esque training camp, which was forced upon him by Hurricane Laura having turned his gym into matches in August of last year.
“I had a unique camp. I had a supercharged combat team that really helped me. We would train in the fields and parking lots, we would run through the fields, we would train in the yard, in the rain – whatever we had to do, it didn’t matter, ”he recalls.
“That’s where that warrior spirit comes in. It’s so easy to step back and be a victim – no, let’s find out. I developed a stronger state of mind. We kept going and I felt better than ever, despite the fewer training partners and the lack of a dojo!
It was the second time the two had met in The Pit. In 2019, Quayhagen stepped in as a late opponent to make a thwarted decision against Gustavo, who until then was on the verge of winning his own title.
So this rematch was both a title fight and a sort of revenge mission for Gustavo, a mission he almost completed in the first round.
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“First punch he threw!” It took me by surprise. He usually fights the Orthodox but he came out left-handed and that put me off. Once he shot me down I had to go all the way to Plan Z and just dig, survive and then smash it, ”Quayhagen said after the fight.
The coup nearly knocked out Quayhagen, but the defending champion was able to clear his head, fight his way through the second lap, then use his relentless gas tank to crush Gustavo in the remaining laps.
Quayhagen had actually predicted what would be the deciding factor in the fight during a pre-fight interview.
“I know he’s a warrior and he’s going to keep coming – but so do I. He won’t have enough. We will see how deep he can swim. I think it will depend on the will and the heart, ”he prophesied.
In the main co-event, Ilies Mardhi defeated Kamariddin Khasanov.
The next episode airs Thursday on CBS Sports Network at 10 p.m. ET.