Fighting chance: Hodges faces toughest test
Rather than see stars, Hodges got savvy to defend a calculated boot to the noggin.
Hodges’ savvy will be tested in the biggest MMA fight of his career Saturday as he faces UFC veteran Waylon Lowe in a televised ProElite 2 flyweight match at the iWireless Center in Moline, Ill.
“I was not too fond of having feet thrown at me,” Hodges said who started training in kickboxing in 2004. “But I got used to it.’’
A three-sport athlete at Clinton and Beloit Memorial high schools, Hodges found his path to MMA.
In 2009, Hodges began training in earnest in mixed martial arts.
“I didn’t fight until 2006,” Hodges said. “I was busy with other things.’’
The ProElite card features former UFC champion Tim Sylvia (27-4) against Andreas Kraniotakes (12-4) in the main event of an eight-bout card that will be televised starting at 7 p.m. on HDNet. HDNet is available on Charter cable only with a Charter HD receiver; on Channel 9422 in Dish Network’s high-definition package, and Channel 79 with the HD package with DirecTV.
Hodges went up to 145 pounds for this featherweight bout with Lowe. It is Hodges first bout against a UFC fighter.
“I haven’t taken a fight at 145,” Hodges said. “I fight at 135 as a bantamweight. Lowe is a natural featherweight.”
The fight pits Hodges, a boxer, against Lowe, a skilled wrestler. Lowe is a three-time NCAA national wrestling champ from the University of Findlay.
Hodges must remain on his feet and control Lowe with his hands for three rounds.
Hodges lost his first MMA bout to Josh Kasee in September 2009, but followed that loss with a seven-bout winning streak before losing a unanimous decision to Rocky Delorme in July 2010. Hodges lost two more bouts and has won two of his last three fights, defeating Eugene Crisler on a technical knockout Oct. 8.
Al Zuehlke of Janesville has worked on Hodges’ boxing skills for more than a year. Zuehlke said Hodges is an eager fighter who needs to exercise patience.
“Every single punch is not going to be a knockout punch,” Zuehlke said. “He has to get rid of his eagerness to throw every punch for a knockout.’’
Zuehlke added if Hodges can prevent Lowe from gaining an advantage with his wrestling expertise by staying on his feet.
“Watch the champs,” Zuehlke said. “None of them are wrestlers, but you can’t take them down.”
Besides the physical skills, a MMA fighter much maintain a good mental attitude. Hodges thinks he is ready for the big fight.
“A lot of fighters are better physically,” Hodges said. “But for whatever reason, they don’t have the right mental approach it takes to win.’’
Hodges believes he can cash in and boost his MMA career.