Laverne Clark is a very important fighter in the history of the UFC. He was the first Pro Boxer to successfully transition into MMA. In his first MMA fight he KO’d another debuting MMA star “Mr. International” Shonie Carter in nine seconds. He also holds notable wins over TUF 6 winner Mac Danzig and TUF 2 runner up Sean Salmon. Between 1998 and 2000 Laverne would enter the UFC cage five times winning four of those fights. A product of The world famous Miletich Fighting Systems, Laverne paved the way for many young fighters to follow.
So how did Laverne get started fighting in MMA you ask, that’s an interesting story.
“I had a wrestling background and when I would lose I would want to punch the guy. After High School I joined boxing. When I would get hit hard in boxing I would want to slam the guy on his head. So when they told me about MMA it was just right for me. They put me in with the big boys and I won my very first professional MMA fight against Shonie Carter.”
His career highlight is his first fight against MMA star Fabiano Iha, They did battle the first time at UFC 20 with Clarke winning by TKO in the first round. Besides that fight he would like to be remembered as:
“I’m a man that made mistakes in the beginning but I would like to finish strong and finish the right way”
These days Laverne is training young fighters at the Rock Island Boxing Club.
“I’m training with the youth, training the next up and coming champions of the world. I believe if I pass the torch to the right one, he will be the next champion of the world”
How does he feel about being the first Pro Boxer to transition successfully into MMA?
“Only hard work pays off and you only get out what you put in. So when I did it, I wasn’t testing the waters. I had already put the hard work in and I knew I would be successful. So I just surrounded myself with a room full of Champions.”
If he could have one rematch in MMA who would it have been against?
“Former UFC Welterweight Champion Matt Hughes, hands down because he promised me a rematch.”
As far as who he enjoys watching in MMA and the UFC now
“MMA is so big and so much is going on in MMA you can’t just focus in on one fighter. I watch so much talent all over the world just to adapt my talent. I love MMA that much, that I can’t get caught up with one or I will miss out on something else.”
Laverne “Fists Of Fury” Clark was a fearless striker and will always be known as a bite down on his mouth piece and let the fists fly type of fighter. Join us next time for another episode of “Laying The Foundation”.
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