TACOMA — An eight-month layoff from the mixed martial arts cage, in addition to a crafty and equally skilled opponent, proved to be too much for Jeff Hatton.
Returning to the MMA cage for the first time since December, Aberdeen’s Hatton found himself on the defensive throughout his three-round bantamweight bout with Spokane’s Josh Rettinghouse on Saturday night.
In the end, Rettinghouse walked away with a unanimous decision victory over Hatton in a semi-main event bout at CageSport XXVI at the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma. Rettinghouse won all three judges’ cards by 30-27 margins.
“To be honest, I thought I would go out there and run right through him,” Hatton said. “I was going to go out there and be faster than him, quicker than him and outwrestle him. We met out there and he met me with good force. He’s better than I thought. Give credit to Josh (for the win). He was elusive when I went for takedowns and submissions and kept control to negate my submission attempts.”
The main event of the night saw Newcastle’s Anthony Hamilton score a first-round TKO over Everett’s Matt Kovacs to retain his CageSport heavyweight championship. An eight-bout undercard preceded the Hatton-Rettinghouse fight.
Hatton (7-4) was on the defensive after Rettinghouse (9-2) successfully blocked his takedown attempts in the first round. The Spokane pro got some punches in from half-guard, enough to win the round.
Hatton tried another takedown to start the second round, but this time, Rettinghouse had other plans. Rolling away, Rettinghouse caught Hatton’s arm through his legs for a possible armbar submission. This was the pivotal moment of the fight.
Rettinghouse had the armbar locked in tight, but Hatton spun, rolled and fought his way out of it. He landed several good shots to Rettinghouse’s face and escaped the submission try. However, Hatton couldn’t capitalize on the moment and found himself back on the ground with Rettinghouse in control.
“That armbar was tight,” Hatton said. “It got past the point of hurting. If I was going to tapout, I would have in the first five seconds. I was already past that hurt, so I just waited for him to think about why I wasn’t tapping and I got out of it. It took a lot out of me mentally and physically. When you get a move put on you like that, a match-ending move, and you barely get out of it, it is on your mind for the next couple of minutes.”
The third round was again Rettinghouse’s to control. He never allowed Hatton an opportunity to gain momentum for a comeback. After the final bell, Rettinghouse raised his arms in triumph and the referee did so after the judges’ cards were read.
“I’m going to go back to the drawing board,” Hatton added. “I’ve been off since December, the longest break I’ve had as a professional. I need a good half-year of training to get back into it. I trained really hard for this one, 5-6 weeks, but I need to train harder and train longer.”
Hatton ended his night by thanking his family, friends and sponsors for their support, along with happy birthday wishes.
“I’d like to thank Jacknut Apparel, Advocare, all of our local commercial fishermen for their support,” Hatton said. “Thank you to Bad Company MMA and special thanks to Amanda Brown. I wouldn’t have been able to train without her help nor without the help and support from my family and friends. Happy birthday, Granny Franny.”
CageSport XXVI Results
Hector Lopez def. Chris Wheaton by submission (triangle choke) 2:56, third round. Josh Solis def. Lonya Champion by TKO (punches) 1:56, first round. Gary Winslow def. Montrez Tinson by TKO (punches) 3:21, first round. Jeff Sweeney def. Jacob Solis by TKO (punches) :30, first round.
Eduardo Torres def. Alex Eastman by submission (rear naked choke) 3:22, first round. Ian Williams def. Zach Conn by TKO (punches) 4:16, third round. Harrison Bevens def. Dave Shepherd by KO (punches) :16, third round. Justin Harrington def. Levi Peaslee by submission (arm triangle choke), 1:36, first round.
Semi Main Event
Josh Rettinghouse def. Jeff Hatton by unanimous decision (30-27)(30-27)(30-27).
Main Event: CageSport Heavyweight Championship
Anthony Hamilton def. Matt Kovacs by TKO (punches) 2:14, first round.