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Two title changes, vicious KOs make up for loss of main event at King of the Cage

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DETROIT - For all intents and purposes, Friday's King of the Cage show at Cobo Arena could've easily been dubbed a cursed card.

Both Ray Mercer and Bobby Green had to pull out due to injury leading up to the show. Then, the show lost its main event Friday morning when it was determined that Jake Rosholt would have to pull out due to a neck injury sustained while rolling Thursday.

It continued when preliminary fighter Dominic Deshazor had his shoulder pop out just seconds into his fight with Eric Moon.

But once the televised card started, things picked up and the nearly 3,000 fans at Cobo were treated to six exciting fights that saw two new champions crowned and a veteran pick up a close decision win.

Still, the loss of the main event that featured a top prospect in Rosholt and a respected veteran in Horn hurt.

King of the Cage President Terry Trebilcock said the fight finally was called off Friday morning after Rosholt exhausted all options, including using a Lidocaine patch and seeing a chiropractor.

"Rosholt did everything he could the last day and a half to try to go ... but they couldn't get anything done," Trebilcock said. "It's rough to handle."

Horn said that "it sucks" but he understands things like this can happen. He found out the fight was off when he woke up Friday morning.

"They told me (Thursday) that he might be out," Horn said. "They said he hurt his neck and they were waiting to see what happened with it. They were trying to get some doctors, maybe get medication to help it but I guess they decided it wasn't in Jake's best interest to fight."

Trebilcock said both fighters are under contract, so expect to see the fight in the near future.

SBN coverage of King of the Cage Detroit, Mich.

With the Horn-Rosholt fight off, the middleweight bout between veteran Joe Doerksen and Chad Herrick took center stage at Cobo as the new main event.

Herrick, who had the most vocal supporters of any fighter on the card, got off to a hot start, dropping Doerksen in the opening minute.

The first two rounds were close and competitive, but Doerksen pulled away in the third despite looking much more worse for the wear than his opponent.

The Canadian dropped Herrick early in the round and took his back but couldn't finish. Doerksen got a takedown with 90 seconds left and ended the frame on top.

The judges tallied their scorecards and awarded Doerksen the win by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28), as he moves his record to 44-12.

The loss drops Herrick to 6-5.

Brandon Hunt already had known what it was like to be King of the Cage middleweight champion. He also knew what it was like to face Brad Burrick.

Friday was the third time the two have met for the title. Hunt won the first fight via three-round decision to capture the vacant title in November 2008. His first title defense was against Burrick which he lost in a five-round decision.

Through the first five minutes of Friday's rubber match, it appeared Burrick was well on his way to winning the series. Nothing was going right for Hunt. He was hurt after being illegally kneed in the head while he was down, although the referee didn't see it and the fight continued. Later, he got a takedown but was swept into mount. He survived the round, but it appeared it was just a matter of time.

Instead, Hunt turned things around - and in a big way - early in the second round. Hunt hurt Burrick with a body shot, then drilled him with an overhand right to the side of the head that severely wobbled him. He wasted no time finishing him off with a right hook, knocking him unconscious.

"One of the things we worked on in the gym was body shots then to the head," Hunt said. "I wanted to stuff his jab and then go over the top but I threw the body shot and I just wanted to dig in there and let him know I was still in the fight. Once I saw his reaction to the shot, he didn't like that. I went to fake the body shot again, he dropped his hands and I switched it to an overhand right straight to the face."

The time of the stoppage was 56 seconds.

"I really draw on the energy from my cornermen, my trainers and my family," Hunt said. "Between rounds they're giving me advice, good advice of things I know I need to do and it wakes up the inner-beast in me and lets me go out and do what I need to do to win."

Hunt said it feels great to have the belt because he "wasn't done with it the first time."

In the evening's other title fight, Dom O'Grady was all over King of the Cage lightweight champion David Shepard in the second round, eventually stopping the champion with an armbar from the bottom at 4:18.

O'Grady dropped Shepard (4-1) early in the second round but ended up on the bottom after getting too aggressive in his effort to finish. O'Grady attempted a triangle choke that was close but Shepard survived that, too. Eventually, though, it was the armbar that caught him, as O'Grady (9-2) picked up his third straight win.

Elsewhere, two prospects picked up victories, although one was much more dominant than the other.

In a middleweight bout, 23-year old Ben Lagman upped his record to 6-1 with a dominating first-round TKO win against Angelo Popofski.

Lagman caught Popofski with an uppercut while he was shooting in early and that set the tone for the fight.

Popofski caught a kick and desperately hung on to the leg but it ended up being his downfall. Lagman pounded Popofski, breaking loose before forcing referee Herb Dean to step in and call a halt to the contest at 2:52.

Trebilcock said Lagman would be in line for a middleweight title shot but he and Hunt are teammates and won't fight. Hunt said he expects to fight the No. 2 or No. 3 contender.

Touted as "the next big thing" on the HDNet broadcast, Daron Cruickshank, who was expecting to fight Bobby Green at 160 pounds, instead got Jason Holmes at 170 pounds on a week's notice.

It was a competitive, hard-fought 15-minute battle that saw Cruickishank walk away with a split decision victory.

The scorecards read 29-28, 28-29 and 30-27.

The first round was the round of the night. Both men hit each other with vicious shots with Cruickshank showing some of his trademark flash. On the other side, while Cruickshank brought the sizzle, Holmes brought the steak, wading through the flashy moves to find a home for many of his punches.

In the second and third rounds, Cruickshank got takedowns that could've been round-winning and ended the contest on top.

The judges handed Holmes only his second career defeat, the only other coming to UFC veteran Ryan Thomas. Cruickshank runs his record to 4-0.

"I'd like to try to finish it, but it went well," Cruickshank said. "I didn't get taken down at all, I didn't get pounded from top, and that's his game. I went in there and I did work. I took a couple bumps and bruises but I gave them back, too."

The other televised fight saw Waylon Lowe send Steve Berger out on a backboard courtesy of a first round knockout. The end came at 2:18. Berger was down on the mat for several minutes and was given oxygen. It was announced he was being carried out as a precautionary measure.

For the night, Trebilcock was happy with what he saw.

"The main card was amazing," he said. "You had some great knockouts, you had some submissions, you had just amazing fights all the way through. We didn't have one (boring) fight tonight and that just doesn't happen all that often and it happened in my hometown of Detroit and I'm happy, extremely happy."