Houston Alexander (left): Dave Mandel | Sherdog.com
AMARILLO, Texas -- Houston Alexander did it for his kids.
Sitting in his corner, trying to find his wits again following one of the more brutal first rounds a fighter has walked away from, he thought of his six young children watching him at home. Then, he rose from his stool and launched a comeback for the ages against Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou at Shark Fights 13 Saturday at the Amarillo Civic Center Coliseum.
“I always tell (my kids) never to give up. I proved to them tonight that you never give up,” Alexander said post-fight as tears welled up in his eyes.
A true test of Alexander’s grit and determination, the bout earned himself and his opponent $2,500 bonuses each for the event’s fight of the night.
Alexander almost didn’t make it out of the first round. Sokoudjou dropped the one-time DJ and construction worker with a left and forced the Nebraskan fighter into survival mode. Alexander clung to the Cameroon judo champion’s leg, trying to will his opponent into a takedown as he ate massive follow-up punches.
“I got rocked, but I recovered fast because of my conditioning,” said the 38-year-old Alexander. “I didn’t really see it coming. It was a flash (knockout), but my conditioning got me through it and I ended up on top of him at the end of the round.”
After such a one-sided first round, it was difficult to believe Alexander would last past the second. But sensing that Sokoudjou was tiring, Alexander rushed in with uppercuts and his opponent folded just as quickly on the fence. When he wasn’t told to stop, Alexander kept firing off punches, far more than necessary to decide the bout’s winner. Referee Steve Armstrong failed to protect Sokoudjou in the timely manner that he deserved, and missed the fighter’s cry for help when he tapped out on Alexander’s leg. Armstrong finally halted the beating at 1:31 into the second round.
Alexander, who had a high-profile loss to Kimbo Slice in the UFC last December, said he wasn’t aware that the fight had long reached its expiration date.
“The referee was telling me to keep working, so I’m going to keep working,” said Alexander. “I don’t want to start ripping on the ref. I just did my job. That’s it.”
Shark Fights President Brent Medley was also hesitant to lay blame on Armstrong, but he said there was no argument between commission and promotion when it came to sending Sokoudjou to the hospital for precautionary head scans. Medley didn’t have an immediate update on the fighter by press time.
The day before, Alexander was one of he last fighters to leave the weigh-ins, as he stayed around to sign autographs for every last fan that requested them. He might not be the most prolific light heavyweight to grace the sport, but he’s one of the more grateful ones.
“I was a construction worker for 10 years,” he said. “Hard labor or signing autographs -- what would you rather be doing?”
In other post-fight notes:
• Paul Daley had to work hard for his unanimous decision victory over Bellator veteran Jorge Masvidal. The notorious welterweight was impressed with his opponent.
“I didn’t think a 155-pounder could handle my punches, but he did,” said the 27-year-old Daley. “I got the first (round) and he got the second and my corner thought the same thing. They sat me down and said, ‘Hey, we got to go. It’s 1-1.’ And that’s what I did. That’s why I won the fight.”
• Keith Jardine was at a loss of words regarding his fifth straight career loss -- a bout he hoped would propel him back into the UFC.
“Both my hands are hurting right now. He has a hell of a jaw on him,” said the 34-year-old Jardine of Prangley. “These last few fights I’ve just been coming up a little bit short. I don’t know what’s going on. It’s pretty frustrating right now.”
• Welterweight Tarec Saffiedine said Brock Larson was his toughest opponent to date, but he had a very specific game plan for the Minnesota wrestler.
“Brock was top ten for a while and a win against him was huge for me, huge for my career. He was really, really tough and experienced,” said Saffiedine, who began his martial arts training in Shushinkai karate. “I knew he was a southpaw and he liked to trade punches, then go for the takedown or clinch. So, I worked my lefty stance and I knew that would frustrate him a little. I started southpaw in the first round and I could see on his face that he was bit troubled. I just stuck to that and it worked.”