As is the case with most weight classes in the organization, the TKO lightweight division is stacked with great young talent. Names like Genereux, Dufort and Capony, just to name a few, are the men who will headline events in the coming months and years.
However, upon relaunch of the organization one year ago, there were two veterans that stood out from the pack, two men who accomplished so much in this sport and would be the measuring stick by which all others would be judged: Derek Gauthier (8-7, 5 KO, 3 sub) and Jesse Ronson (18-8, 9 KO, 6 sub).
Gauthier, a 10-year veteran, had taken a pause from professional fighting but came back with a bang scoring a 35-second knockout of Chris Horodecki in the main event of TKO36, a fight in which many considered him a serious underdog.
On the other side of the coin, Ronson was a UFC veteran who had only lost by split decision in Dana White’s organization to men who are now all ranked top-contenders. Over the last 12 months, Ronson has proved himself to be a dominant force over the lightweight division. The pattern has been the same every time he has stepped into the cage: early on in the fight, he’ll take his time to figure out his opponent’s cadence and tendencies much like a hunter stalking his prey. Once that analysis is complete, he’ll pounce and, more often than not, finish his foe within 3 rounds.
Ronson had politely challenged Gauthier after his TKO36 victory, which led to them squaring off in the main event of TKO38. Ronson was the victor via 3rd round stoppage, however Gauthier did put on a strong performance and has remained convinced since that night that a few minor adjustments could lead him to victory in an eventual rematch.
That wish is now set to be granted and as we are set for chapter 2 of this rivalry when Ronson and Gauthier square off once again this Friday night at TKO41: Champion, this time at the Bell Centre, this time over 5 rounds, this time for the TKO lightweight championship.
Ronson noted that the TKO lightweight championship has a special meaning for him as he intends to follow in the footsteps of one of his mentors, TKO and UFC veteran Sam Stout: “Sam was the last TKO lightweight champion so it’s only fitting that someone from Team Tompkins fights for that title and I’m glad it’s me.”
“I feel privileged to get this rematch” said Gauthier, currently ranked second in the TKO lightweight standings behind Ronson. “It wasn’t a good night for me [when we first fought] but I’ve prepared differently this time around and I’ll be ready for him.”
Ronson was quick to turn the tables when made aware of Gauthier’s statement: “I’ve figured him out and he won’t change that much since the last time. I’m one fight away from going back to the UFC and there is no way Derek is taking that from me. I beat him in less than 3 [rounds] last time, now I have him for 5 and I’m going to torture him for every minute of it” he claimed.
Join us on Friday, December 8 for TKO 41: Champions at Montreal’s Bell Centre. Tickets on sale now at www.evenko.ca or by phone at (514) 790-2525.
– Story by Patrick Lono, TKO