by Ken Pishna (Photos by April Pishna)
DENVER, CO — Duane “Bang” Ludwig has been a staple of Denver-based fight promotion Ring of Fire ever since their second show. And Ring of Fire has been a staple of the Denver mixed martial arts scene, well… actually, Ring of Fire created the Denver mixed martial arts scene.

So, even with Ludwig having gone off to fight in the biggest shows on the planet, from K-1 to the Ultimate Fighting Championship, it’s unique that a fighter of his stature continues to return to his roots and delight his hometown fans. And lest there be any doubt, that is exactly what Ludwig did this past Saturday night, a mere two days after his beautiful wife gave birth to a wonderful and equally beautiful baby girl.

In the main event of the evening, Ludwig thrashed a game, but confounded Toshikazu Harada who made the trip over from Chiba, Japan. The fight started with the usual feeling out process and exploratory striking by both fighters. It even hit the ground for a few moments with Harada appearing to go after a leg submission.

About a minute and a half into the first round, the fighters found their way back up to standing at which point Ludwig, with fury in his eyes, marched across the ring with both hands at his sides and got within inches of Harada’s face with no respect for his punching power before he proceeded to crush the Japanese fighter with a right hand from hell that left him dropping to the canvas. But before Harada could finish the trip, Ludwig caught him across the jaw with a left knee that sealed the deal and left him sprawling.

Ludwig really wanted to make up for the quick knockout loss that he suffered at the hands of Ultimate Fighter Season 2 veteran Sammy Morgan early last year in this same Douglas County Event Center in front of these same hometown fans. In his last two bouts, he has done just that. A few short weeks ago he crushed Jonathan Goulet in an official time of 11 seconds at Ultimate Fight Night 3 and now the destruction of Harada for a combined time of 1 minute and 55 seconds.

As of press time, nothing has been signed for Ludwig’s next bout, but his management is in negotiations to get him back in the ring soon, possibly for another return stint in the UFC.

In other action, lightweight fighter James Martinez nearly drove Hiro Kamikozono through the canvas en route to a 1 minute and 7 second knockout. Martinez was standing in Kamikozono’s guard and drove down about three powerful right hands that left Kamikozono completely unconscious. With the win, Martinez moves into the number one contender’s spot for the Ring of Fire lightweight title held by Alvin Robinson. The two will square off at Ring of Fire 23 on April 1st.

Christina Allen, a training partner of UFC fighter and Ring of Fire veteran Nate Marquardt, had to take North Platte, Nebraska’s Joe Doherty into the second round before he could finish him. Doherty somehow fought his way through a couple of tight chokes in the first round, but when he landed in Allen’s patented triangle choke once again in the second, there was no escape and he was forced to tap.

A fan favorite in the Denver area, champion kickboxer Donald Cerrone made his mixed martial arts debut against Nate Mohr. Cerrone made quick work of Mohr, but not in the fashion that most expected it might happen. In a mere 1 minute and 12 seconds, he locked on a triangle choke of his own, found the angle, and had Mohr submitting; pretty impressive for a kickboxer.

Also of note were the wins of Lorenzo Coca and Gerald Lavato who gave Tom Vaughn’s FIT Fight Team another clean sweep. This team has been producing very solid talent over the last couple of years and deserves to be recognized. If you’re not familiar with Vaughn’s fighters, just remember the name Carlos Condit, another Ring of Fire veteran. Condit is the fighter that knocked out Charuto Verissimo in just 17 seconds in the first round of Rumble on the Rock’s Welterweight Grand Prix and is now slated to face MMAWeekly’s own Frank Trigg in the semi-finals in April.

All in all, it was another solid show for promoter Sven “Boogie” Bean. Colorado’s Godfather of MMA continues to put together some of the most entertaining fight cards around. Look for the next Ring of Fire, edition number 22, on the road in Vail, Colorado on March 25th as Sven quite literally takes the promotion to new heights at an average elevation of 8,150 feet. I bet there are a lot of fighters from sea level signing on for that one.


Duane Ludwig def. Toshikazu Harada by KO at 1:44, Round 1
James Martinez def. Hiro Kamikozono by KO at 1:07, Round 1
Christian Allen def. Joe Doherty by Triangle Choke at 1:09, Round 2
Donald Cerrone def. Nate Mohr by Triangle Choke at 1:12, Round 1
Chad Reiner def. Aaron Romero by Unanimous Decision, 2 Rounds
Eliot Marshall def. Jarrett Kelton by TKO (Strikes) at 2:07, Round 1
Chad Kligensmith def. Matthew Congdem by TKO (Strikes) at 2:59, Round 2
Gerald Lavato def. Mike Aragon by Rear Naked Choke at 1:43, Round 1
Lorenzo Coca def. Brian Truelson by Rear Naked Choke at 2:35, Round 1
Mark Spoone def. Robert Hermansillo by TKO (Strikes) at 2:23, Round 1

Clarence Thatch def. David Montoya by TKO at 0:11, Round 3