DONCASTER, England -- British MMA veteran Ian Freeman rolled back the years to score a first-round stoppage victory over former UFC heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez in the main event of Ultimate Cage Fighting Championships 5 at a sparsely populated Keepmoat Stadium.
Returning to the cage after a five-year absence, the godfather of UK MMA looked focused from the first bell. Crushing leg kicks kept Rodriguez at bay and Freeman comfortably handled the former UFC champ’s takedown attempts. The end came when Freeman landed another hard leg kick and Rodriguez dropped to the canvas in obvious pain. “The Machine” unleashed a volley of punches, forcing referee Marc Goddard to intervene at just 2:11 of the first round.
Freeman's first win since May 2008 moves him to 20-7-1 in a career spanning 14-plus years. Rodriguez, who stepped in to replace Ken Shamrock in the bout, falls to 51-21.
An obviously emotional Freeman scaled the cage and milked the acclaim of the Yorkshire crowd. Freeman is now the owner of the UCFC legends heavyweight title, but exactly how much support there is for a full-blown comeback is debatable. Despite the promise of an MMA extravaganza backed by a music festival featuring chart topping acts, only a few hundred people turned up at the Doncaster Rovers football stadium.