Hoger Returns as Heavyweight for Quick Win

By Jack Encarnacao Sep 20, 2008
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Sam Hoger entered the ring to the song “Welcome to the Jungle” and weighing 251 pounds.

The smiley “thief” of season one of “The Ultimate Fighter” then had his first fight in 17 months, and it was over almost instantly. Even Hoger looked surprised when the referee stepped in just 17 seconds after he had dropped his 289-pound opponent and landed some additional shots.

It wasn’t much, and almost definitely less than Hoger traveled all the way from Houston for.

“I’m looking to be better,” Hoger said. “Right now, I’m just going to wait for the next fight. I want to fight. I’m hungry.”

Hoger defeated a corn-rowed, tattooed 289-pounder from Maine named Jason “The Angry Man” Dolloff, who took the place of Brandon Bice, who took a fight too close to the Hoger bout to pass medical requirements. Hoger signed Polaroids afterward and hammed it up.

“Let’s go eat some junk food!” Hoger told friends at ringside as fans emptied out of the building.

The win capped off the fourth promotional effort by World Championship Fighting, which is quickly becoming the prime proving ground for New England fighters. The card drew a loud crowd of about 3,000 to the Aleppo Shriners Auditorium in Wilmington, Mass.

The events are promoted by Joe Cavallaro, a longtime friend of UFC President Dana White and manager to several New England-bred fighters, including Kenny Florian and Marcus Davis. HDNet cameras were on hand to film highlights for “Inside MMA,” and ring announcer Chris Collins conducted postfight interviews for the first time.

In the co-main event, Wilmington’s own Dan Bonnell extended his win streak to four with an emphatic victory over a 10-2 Joe Cushman, a strong prospect who was cornered by Joe and Dan Lauzon. The featherweight fight, which had all the makings of a drawn-out war, ended in a flash as Bonnell clipped Cushman with a right hand early and pounced for the TKO in just 19 seconds.

“It’s a huge, huge win for me,” said Bonnell, who trains out of Renzo Gracie New Hampshire and has fought and won on all four WCF cards. “He’s by far my toughest fight I ever had.”

A dejected Cushman made no excuses.

“I wanted it to go 15 minutes, you know, (with) blood, everything,” he said. “I don’t know what happened.”

Bobby Dias and Stephen Stengel came out of their corners with kicks that put both on the ground early. After several scurries on the ground, Dias, who had the first great fight in the WCF against Bobby McMaster in September 2007, secured the guillotine choke to take the 170-pound tilt.

At light heavyweight, Philadelphia’s Lamont Lister took on Scott Rehm, who brought a star-studded corner to the ring. The Sityodtong fighter was cornered by Mark DellaGrotte and Kenny and Keith Florian, who recently opened their own gym in Brookline, Mass. The hard-fought bout went into an overtime round, where the Florians screamed pointers to a tiring Rehm.

Sweat flew in the third, and Rehm, though exhausted after taking the fight on short notice, appeared to notch a unanimous decision. But a ringside scorekeeper made a mistake in naming Rehm’s corner the winner -- a decision that drew boos from the crowd. Ring announcer Chris Collins announced the mix-up, and Lister was declared the winner.

“It felt good hearing my name in the end,” Rehm said. “But if they say he won the fight, he won the fight.”

Local standout John Benoit, a Renzo Gracie New Hampshire product and longtime wrestler, improved to 6-0 after weathering an early barrage from Davin Wesinger. Benoit swiftly secured a rear-naked choke in the first after the lightweight fight had hit the floor, then signaled he was ready for a shot at a title belt, which the WCF has not yet created. Asked whom he wanted to fight next, Benoit challenged someone from his hometown who he said was in attendance but didn’t step forward.

World Championship Fighting returns Nov. 14 to the Shriners Auditorium, a venue with which the promotion recently signed a two-year agreement.

Other results:

Justin Hammerstrom def. Matt Johnson -- Submission (Guillotine) 1:08 R1
Matt Martin def. Nik Patenaude -- Unanimous Decision (20-18 all)
Matt Smith def. Josh Spearman -- Submission (Guillotine) 3:18 R1
Joe Keane def. Barry Liseno -- TKO (Strikes) 2:53 R2
Kevin Corrigan def. Wayne Harnois -- TKO (Strikes) 2:22 R2
Rodrigo Almeida def. Jose Lopez -- Unanimous Decision (20-18 all)
Kirill Sementsov def. Chad Beane -- KO (Guillotine) 3:40 R1
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