Josh Quayhagen retained his Karate Combat 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 credits his astonishing willpower in part to a Rocky-esque training camp, forced on him by Hurricane Laura having turned his gym to matchsticks in August last year.
“I had a unique camp. I had a fired-up fight team who really helped me. We’d train in fields and parking lots, we’d go running through fields, we would train in the yard, in the rain – whatever we had to do, it didn’t matter,” he recalls.
“Going through struggles, that’s where that warrior spirit comes in. It’s so easy to step back and be a victim – no, let’s figure it out. I developed a better stronger mindset. We kept going and I felt better than I ever had, despite the least amount of training partners and no dojo!”
It was the second time the two were meeting in The Pit. Back in 2019, Quayhagen stepped in as a late opponent to take an upset decision win over Gustavo, who until that point was on the verge of a title shot of his own.
This rematch was therefore both a title fight and something of a revenge mission for Gustavo, a mission he nearly completed in the first round.
“First punch he threw! That caught me by surprise. He usually fights orthodox but he came out southpaw and that threw me off. Once he put me down I had to go all the way to Plan Z and just dig in, survive and then break him,” said Quayhagen post-fight.
The blow nearly took Quayhagen out, but the defending champion was able to clear his head, grit his way through the second round and then use his relentless gas tank to grind Gustavo down over the remaining rounds.
Quayhagen had actually predicted what the fight’s decisive factor would be during a pre-fight interview.
“I know he’s a warrior and he’s going to keep coming – but so am I. He ain’t gonna have enough. We’re going to see how deep he can swim. I think it’s going to come down to will and heart,” he prophesied.
In the co-main event, Ilies Mardhi bested Kamariddin Khasanov.
The next episode airs Thursday on CBS Sports Network at 10 p.m. ET.