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Brooksville fighter makes early exit in playoff match

Dan Rawlings, 34, works out at Impact Martial Arts in Westchase, leading a Muay Thai fighting class. He is a member of the World Combat League’s Los Angeles Stars.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Dan Rawlings, 34, works out at Impact Martial Arts in Westchase, leading a Muay Thai fighting class. He is a member of the World Combat League’s Los Angeles Stars.

BROOKSVILLE — Good news for those hoping to see Brooksville resident Dan Rawlings in next month's tape-delayed broadcast of the World Combat League playoffs: The 34-year-old Muay Thai instructor makes an appearance for a team called the Stars.

He also ends up seeing a few.

Sustaining what he said was the first knockout of his life, Rawlings, fighting at 147 pounds, was floored by Oklahoma Destroyers star Thomas "Thunderkick" Longacre roughly 20 seconds into their three-minute fight Saturday in the WCL semifinals in San Antonio. The Stars-Destroyers match is set to air June 8 at 7 p.m. on Versus Network

"I never saw the hit coming, really," said Rawlings, a Stars alternate thrust into duty when starter Jack Felton broke a hand. "It was very early in the fight, which was really disappointing as well. I guess it's better getting caught than just getting outclassed."

Rawlings said he was sharp at the outset, making Longacre miss with two punches and three kicks. When Rawlings responded with a kick to the leg, Longacre came over with a left hook that turned his head, followed by a right cross.

"It was a brutal shot to the temple," Rawlings said. "I was out."

Thing is, he didn't realize it at the time. After the fight was stopped, Rawlings said he desperately tried to talk his way back into the fight, unaware he already had been seated on a stool.

"I don't know whether I fell down, I don't know whether I walked around stumbling, I don't know. Isn't that sad?" said Rawlings, who had two fights as a pro boxer and is internationally certified in Muay Thai. "Honestly, I'm still a little mentally rattled."

The Stars, a Los Angeles-based team, prevailed 144-137 to advance to next month's league finals in Tulsa, Okla. Rawlings is uncertain if he'll be in the lineup again, but stands to earn a nice payday if called upon. On Saturday, he walked away with $950 after donating $200 to a teammate seriously injured in a February bout. His meals and air fare were paid for.

"For 20 seconds and a headache," he said, "I definitely got paid well."

Brooksville fighter makes early exit in playoff match 05/06/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 7, 2008 11:39am]

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