On Sept. 18, 2021, 2018 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) champion Hafthor “The Mountain” Björnsson and Devon “No Limits” Larratt headlined Fight Night 3, presented by CoreSports, in Dubai, UAE. The undercard featured eight bouts, including the Featherweight fight between powerlifter Stefi Cohen versus Marcela Nieto and the battle between the two CrossFit Games veterans, Josh Bridges and Jacob Heppner.
Heppner entered the ring first at a bodyweight of 83.8 kilograms (184.8 pounds) to the sounds of the “Imperial March” by John Williams. Bridges entered the ring nearly eight kilograms lighter. The two former CrossFit Games competitors pushed each other through six hard-fought rounds, and ultimately the judges awarded Heppner the victory by unanimous decision.
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Tale of the Tape
On paper, Heppner had every advantage over Bridges. Heppner is the taller, younger, heavier fighter. However, both men technically had the same amount of professional boxing experience during their debuts. The fight went all six three-minute rounds with 16-ounce gloves.
Both men wasted no time getting to the action in round one. There was a familiarity between the two combatants, and the punches were flying within the first minute. Heppner pressed an early advantage by controlling the center and backing Bridges to the ropes. Bridges refused to be bullied by the larger fighter and fought his way back at every opportunity.
Each fighter landed several solid body shots and got in some clean hits to the head. They appeared evenly matched as they headed to the corners for a breather.
Bridges was the aggressor at the start of round two. Heppner remained relaxed and weathered Bridges early barrage, not allowing anything meaningful to land. The head movement and footwork of both fighters shined during round two. As was the case in round one, no shot worth a double-take landed. However, Bridges was slightly more active in the round and did score a right hook to the body.
The first big firework shot landed two-thirds of the way through the third round — an overhand right cross led by three jabs stuck for Heppner. Bridges battled back and clipped Heppner on the chin after working his way to the inside. It was another very tight round that displayed both pugilist’s willingness to brawl.
Bridges kicked off the round with an aggressive slant. He ducked under Heppner’s right hook to land a solid uppercut. Heppner walked through it and remained loose. Heppner retaliated by leveraging his reach advantage to stick several clean jabs to Bridges’ nose.
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As Bridges backed away, Heppner caught him with an uppercut and a straight cross. This was likely a challenging round to score as each fighter had good moments, and neither gave an inch to the other.
Heppner seemed to find an opening to catch Bridges when he maneuvered to the inside. Some amount of fatigue began to show as the footwork for both fighters noticeably slowed in this round. This was arguably the least active round for both men, but there was still plenty of action.
The CrossFit Games veterans moved forward constantly in the final round, with Heppner pressing his size advantage. By the halfway mark, both men were breathing deep, but the gloves still flew. With 30 seconds left in the round, Heppner and Bridges unloaded everything left in their tanks. Still, neither were able to find the opening necessary to prevent the judges from deciding the outcome. Ultimately, all three judges scored the fight the same — Heppner wins by unanimous decision.
A Cross(Fit)over Sport
Heppner versus Bridges proved to be one of the more competitive fights on the Fight Night 3 card. In his post-fight interview, Heppner said the both he and Bridges likely overtrained for the bout, which may have contributed to their fatigue towards the end of the fight. Bridges seemed disappointed by the result but still satisfied with his performance and taking the risk of hopping into a new sport. Bridges took to his Instagram page after the bout to share a photo of himself and Heppner smiling post bout and hinted at a rematch:
Maybe we run it back?
After their showing in Dubai, another bout would undoubtedly be welcome.
Featured Image: @bridgesj3 on Instagram