In mixed martial arts, there is no feeling quite like that of the emphatic knockout. Just ask Rick Hawn, who authored the eighth such finish of his career by dropping Ricardo Tirloni with a right hand in the first round of his lightweight debut at Bellator 62.

“Knocking somebody out is just an instant surge; it’s an adrenaline rush,” Hawn recently told “It’s an overwhelming feeling of excitement. Once I get inside that cage, the adrenaline takes over. Adrenaline will do some really crazy things to guys. I always try to be calm in life and when I fight, but when you get a finish like that it’s just a complete release. All of the adrenaline is running through your body and it’s just a really awesome feeling. Everything comes together right at that moment.”

Hawn, who faces Lloyd Woodard in a 155-pound semifinal at Bellator 66 on Friday, believes he is just barely beginning to tap into his potential on the feet.

“I feel like my power has always been there, but my technique is a lot better now. The last time I fought against Jay Hieron was like 10 months ago, so I have improved a lot since that last fight,” he said. “It’s all about how you hit someone. A lot of it has to do with having that perfect timing, and that comes from training.”

That split-decision loss to Hieron came in Bellator’s Season 4 welterweight finals and ultimately proved to be the judo Olympian’s last bout at 170 pounds. While he says that dropping weight was the right career move, he also gained valuable experience from the defeat.

“I came up short in the finals, but that just made me an even better fighter today,” Hawn said. “Now I know what it’s going to take to win the whole tournament. Now that I have been there and I have been close, I know that I have to do even more this time.”

Woodard turned heads by upsetting prohibitive tournament favorite Patricky Freire in the lightweight quarterfinals at Bellator 62, submitting “Pitbull” with a gruesome kimura in round two. It was the first time the Brazilian had been finished and marked Woodard’s 12th victory in 13 fights.

The man known as “Cupcake” has been vocal about getting a chance to avenge his only career loss, a unanimous decision setback at the hands of lightweight champion Michael Chandler more than a year ago. Hawn thinks Woodard is taking a risk by looking too far ahead.

“This fight with Lloyd Woodard is going to be a war,” Hawn said. “I feel like he’s looking past me to get at Michael Chandler, and that’s a huge mistake. He can look past me all he wants. He is going to have a rude awakening once he gets inside that cage.”

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