Ricco Rodriguez won for the seventh consecutive time on his full-contact fighting comeback by beating Rolla’s Ken Sparks when the referee stopped the fight late in the first round in the main event of the USA-MMA “Legends” card Saturday night.


Despite the loss Sparks said he was pleased with his performance and before Rodriguez put him in a position forcing the fight’s stoppage, it was Rodriguez who was in danger of submitting.


“It started out that he tried to head kick me and I blocked it,” Sparks said. “A little later on I got him in a guillotine choke hold. I had him in the guillotine for about a minute, and you could hear him gurgling. But I wasn’t able to get it on him tight and Rodriguez finally broke it.”


After Rodriguez got out of his close call he starting throwing punches, and also got one of Sparks’ arms caught behind him.


“I couldn’t move the hand,” Sparks said. “It was trapped and he was punching. The referee kept telling me to improve my position but I couldn’t. So he eventually stepped in (to stop the fight).”


Sparks said he was hoping to last through the final 30 seconds of the first round while having his arm trapped.


However, he said the referee did the proper thing.


“I don’t blame him at all,” Sparks said. “The ref told me to improve my position several times and I couldn’t. I wasn’t taking severe damage but the referee was just doing his job; you don’t want anyone to get hurt. He didn’t just jump in, he gave me several chances.


“I’ve never been down and I’ve never tapped. The ref stopped it. But that’s part of the game. I understand.”


For a while Sparks thought he was going to be the first man to ever make Rodriguez submit.


“I was really happy how it went,” he said. “I didn’t take a whole lot of punishment. (Rodriguez) has had 50 pro fights and has never submitted. If I had anyone else in that choke I’d think I’d have (the win). But he’s been there a million times; he’s not going to tap. It was closer than I thought it would be on that choke. I’m not upset; I had an opportunity to win it. I put some offense up.”


At the pre-fight weigh-in Sparks had tipped the scales at 230 fully-clothed while Rodriguez weighed around 210.


The fight ended a 1 1/2-year retirement for Sparks, who three years ago won both the light-heavyweight and heavyweight titles in the Masters of the Cage full-contact organization.


On Saturday Rodriguez and Sparks were fighting for the USA-MMA heavyweight championship.


Rodriguez is the one-time heavyweight champion of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and his goal is to return to that organization as a champion, perhaps in the light-heavyweight division. He improves is record to 39-10-0.


Ricco Rodriguez won for the seventh consecutive time on his full-contact fighting comeback by beating Rolla’s Ken Sparks when the referee stopped the fight late in the first round in the main event of the USA-MMA “Legends” card Saturday night.

Despite the loss Sparks said he was pleased with his performance and before Rodriguez put him in a position forcing the fight’s stoppage, it was Rodriguez who was in danger of submitting.

“It started out that he tried to head kick me and I blocked it,” Sparks said. “A little later on I got him in a guillotine choke hold. I had him in the guillotine for about a minute, and you could hear him gurgling. But I wasn’t able to get it on him tight and Rodriguez finally broke it.”

After Rodriguez got out of his close call he starting throwing punches, and also got one of Sparks’ arms caught behind him.

“I couldn’t move the hand,” Sparks said. “It was trapped and he was punching. The referee kept telling me to improve my position but I couldn’t. So he eventually stepped in (to stop the fight).”

Sparks said he was hoping to last through the final 30 seconds of the first round while having his arm trapped.

However, he said the referee did the proper thing.

“I don’t blame him at all,” Sparks said. “The ref told me to improve my position several times and I couldn’t. I wasn’t taking severe damage but the referee was just doing his job; you don’t want anyone to get hurt. He didn’t just jump in, he gave me several chances.

“I’ve never been down and I’ve never tapped. The ref stopped it. But that’s part of the game. I understand.”

For a while Sparks thought he was going to be the first man to ever make Rodriguez submit.

“I was really happy how it went,” he said. “I didn’t take a whole lot of punishment. (Rodriguez) has had 50 pro fights and has never submitted. If I had anyone else in that choke I’d think I’d have (the win). But he’s been there a million times; he’s not going to tap. It was closer than I thought it would be on that choke. I’m not upset; I had an opportunity to win it. I put some offense up.”

At the pre-fight weigh-in Sparks had tipped the scales at 230 fully-clothed while Rodriguez weighed around 210.

The fight ended a 1 1/2-year retirement for Sparks, who three years ago won both the light-heavyweight and heavyweight titles in the Masters of the Cage full-contact organization.

On Saturday Rodriguez and Sparks were fighting for the USA-MMA heavyweight championship.

Rodriguez is the one-time heavyweight champion of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and his goal is to return to that organization as a champion, perhaps in the light-heavyweight division. He improves is record to 39-10-0.