For a country that has essentially banned Mixed Martial Arts, France is certainly turning out some talent. First Francis Ngannou, and now Tom Duquesnoy has made it to the big stage, and he didn’t disappoint.
If you didn’t know about the 23 year old Fire Kid you will now, as Duquesnoy took his form from BAMMA and carried it on into the UFC octagon, this past weekend in Kansas.
Duquesnoy went into his UFC debut facing ground game specialist Patrick Williams, and with a smaller reach than the American, it was clear Duquesnoy would have to use his speed, and conditioning to break down Williams to get in close to get the knockout.
There did seem to be some debut nerves from the young Frenchman in the early stages, as he was eating combo after combo from Williams. He even fell susceptible to Williams superior ground game, being taken down twice inside the first three minutes, and even at one point giving up his back, which with a ground game like Williams, is a dangerous place to be.
However it was clear that the Frenchman’s camp had planned for this, and he was able to escape and get the fight back to where he is most comfortable, on the feet. But even if the trainers at Jackson/Wink and in his corner on the night had planned for a ground game from his opponent, it was a straight right from Williams that rocked Duquesnoy, that probably came as the biggest shock.
But instead of lying down and letting Williams finish the job, Duquesnoy showed an old head on a young body, got himself together, and from there it was all the Frenchman. The right from Williams, even though it cut Tom on top of his left elbow, seem to wake the Frenchman up, even wiping away those early nerves.
From that moment on, Duquesnoy’s timing was better, his control of the octagon was better, and his takedown defense improved three-fold, as Williams went for another takedown in the third, Duquesnoy managed to catch him with a perfect uppercut, that rocked his opponent, and those of us lucky enough to have seen him fight before, knew the end was near.
Duquesnoy was now pushing the pace, and controlling the fight his way, and coming at the end of the first round had Williams against the cage, and landed a stiff left elbow, which knocked Williams out, akin to Silva vs Bisping last year in London, but as it was on the buzzer, both men walked back to their corners, well Williams was more carried.
Between rounds you could see Williams was out of it, and that was still evident when the second round started, Williams looked gassed, and looked wobbly on his legs. Duquesnoy smelt blood!
The Fire Kid started the second, as he had finished the first, in complete control, gaining the center of the octagon, and pushing Williams towards the cage wall, the end was near, and Duquesnoy knew it.
And it came after only 28 seconds of the restart. Duquesnoy had Williams against the cage, and landed a hard right elbow that finished the job he started at the end of the first, and knocked his opponent out.
Tom Duquesnoy had arrived, and he had arrived the same way he left BAMMA, looking down at his opponent. At only 23, he is only getting started, and proved on Saturday night, he is a special talent, he can deal with not pushing the pace, and possibly getting rocked was the wakeup call he needed.
But that is one side of game he will have to work on for future match ups, he is too easy to hit, and the talent pool in the UFC aren’t all as forgiving as Williams, the next person to catch him, might just finish the job.
But lets not take away from what was a very impressive debut for such a young star, and there is much, much more to come from Tom ‘Fire Kid’ Duquesnoy.