Lugo improves pro MMA record to 2-0

Lugo improves pro MMA record to 2-0

Jose Lugo shows off his “El Salvaje” T-shirt and a winning smile last Friday night at the Twin River Event Center after the Woonsocket flyweight improved to 2-0 with a second-round TKO at CES MMA 49. (Breeze photo by Eric Benevides)
Knee injury to opponent gives Woonsocket flyweight second-round TKO at Twin River

WOONSOCKET – A win is a win, and that’s what Jose Lugo got last Friday night when the Woonsocket flyweight captured his second pro mixed martial arts fight on the undercard of CES MMA 49 at the Twin River Event Center.

But Lugo wasn’t too proud of his victory, an early second-round TKO of Carlos Rodriguez Jr., which saw Rodriguez suffer a freak knee injury 17 seconds into the round and crumble to the mat in obvious pain.

Rodriguez, a native of the Bronx, N.Y., who was making his pro debut, clutched the side of his left knee and needed help getting out of the cage, and Lugo was awarded the knockout in favor of injury.

"It was a bittersweet win," Lugo, who is known as “El Salvaje” by local fans, said afterwards in the dressing room. "I wish the fight went the distance or ended in a finish that wasn't an actual injury, but a win's a win and I'll just come back stronger next time.”

The 26-year-old Lugo, who won his pro debut last Nov. 17 with a first-round submission of Syracuse’s Michael Taylor just 3:33 into their fight, found himself in a battle with Rodriguez in the opening round of their match. Lugo took Rodriguez down twice, but Rodriguez delivered a hard elbow to the side of Lugo’s left eye that left it a bit puffy afterwards.

"He's a scrappy dude," Lugo said of Rodriguez. "And he's very flexible. I pretty much had his leg over his head when he got me with that elbow."

Early in the second round, both fighters exchanged punches, and just when Rodriguez was ready to step forward and attack Lugo …

"I saw it coming and I stepped back a little bit, and (his knee) just popped,” recalled Lugo. “You could hear it (pop) as clear as day. And then he started screaming, and I knew the fight was over. He was not going to recover.”

As far as his mindset in fighting in his second pro fight, "I felt calm," said Lugo, who was one of five Rhode Island fighters to have their arm raised in victory last Friday night. "The more you're in there, the more comfortable you get, so I felt confident. I didn't win the way I wanted to win tonight, but a win's a win I guess.”

Lugo, who trains out of BST MMA & Fitness in Mendon, Mass., plans to return to the gym this week to prepare for his next fight. It won’t on the CES card that will take place on May 4 at the Westbury Theater in Westbury, N.Y., but Lugo hopes he’s on the next show that will be back at Twin River sometime this summer.

“I’m going to get a nice camp going and make sure I'm ready again for the next fight,” he added, “because these fights are only going to get harder.”