All it takes is one perfectly placed punch and any man or woman can defeat another in a fight — no matter how wide the contrast in experience or skill. On one fateful Saturday night in October 2003, that couldn’t have been personified any better than it was by 25-year-old Danny Lafever.
With 17 years in the rear-view mirror, Kalama, Washington’s Lafever currently lives his life as a union carpenter building scaffold. A profession he’s been entrenched in for 13 years and counting.
Despite 2020 bringing all its troubles for everyone around the world, Lafever was thrown an additional negative in the form of a divorce but some nice positives as he was led to a new job in his field as well as a new home. However, the happy father of two still to this day finds himself as a noteworthy topic for MMA historians.
On Oct. 25, 2003, the Clark County Fairgrounds Amphitheater played host to Ultimate Ring Challenge 6 (URC) — an MMA event featuring at least a dozen bouts. Participating that night would be several of MMA’s future veterans from the Evergreen state such as Matt Horwich, John Gunderson, and most notably, former UFC standout, Benji Radach.
Unfortunately for Radach, he found himself on the receiving end of one of MMA’s all-time greatest upsets in the event’s headlining attraction — a result that came at the hands of a young Lafever who was working as an electrician at the time.
All it took was 55 seconds for Danny Lafever to ice Benji Radach with one of the cleanest right hands everyone in attendance that night had ever seen.
“My family, my cousins, they were both Golden Glove boxers and whatnot but I never did any professional anything,” Lafever told MyMMANews. “I would mess around at the gym here and there with my cousins and stuff but nothing really too crazy or anything. I would definitely say I’m a boxer more than anything. I wrestled for a year or two in high school but that’s not my forte.
“I was [paying attention to MMA at the time], but some people just have it in their blood and they want to fight, they like it. And I just didn’t have the drive. So for me it was just a one and done type thing, I didn’t ever look much past that. I wanted to have a family and have a career, just go down that path instead. That’s just what I decided to do.”
In 2021, Lafever rates himself a nine out of 10 on the fan scale, and he always knew that’s as far as he and MMA were going to take their relationship.
Heading into URC 6, Lafever was essentially just a man with confidence in himself and a willingness to scrap. Radach, on the other hand, was as legit as they came in MMA. Possessing a 15-1 record, “Razor” saw his lone defeat coming at the hands of future UFC champion, Sean Sherk.
So why would something like this even be put together?
Rumors swirled throughout the years and began anew in June 2020 when the footage of the bout resurfaced on Twitter — leading many to mention the possibility that Radach scrubbed the internet of its existence. Lafever has heard the same as everyone else but doesn’t know for certain.
As for the fight coming to fruition, the speculation was that the two were settling a dispute over a girlfriend.
“He went to Castle Rock High School and I went to Kelso High School, so we were like 15 minutes apart,” Lafever detailed. “He was kind of the tough guy there, I was kind of the tough guy here or whatever. We hung out a lot at parties and whatnot but we knew each other really well. I was dating a gal for a while and they kind of started hanging out and so it just kind of went from there.
“It was more of a fun thing for us, we always got along, still do get along. There’s never been any bad blood. It was basically, he wanted to fight, I wanted to fight, and why do it on the streets and risk getting in trouble when you can do it legally? So we kind of put it together and we got in there and got ‘er done, slugged it out.”
Early 2000s regional scenes in MMA are about as “wild west” as it can get. A fight between a virtually experienceless debutant and a 16-fight top global contender is something that would be nearly impossible to sanction in the modern-day. Yet the details and process back then simply came down to signing contracts. No hoops needed jumping through.
Lafever’s movie-scene-like effort earned him a mere $3500. But it was truly never about the money for the king of Kelso, and a spot in the history books ended up being absolutely priceless.
“I’ve never been one to back down from a fight, I mean whatever. It is what it is,” Lafever explained. “I just know, in UFC, in any kind of boxing, everybody has a puncher’s chance and I trained my ass off. Despite what everybody wants to think or say, I did train really hard and I took it f*cking serious. So I was like, if he wins, good for him. If I win, I win. That was my outlook on it. I gotta thank god, he’s the one that deserves all the credit. So that was my outlook on it, I trained my butt off, went out there, and got ‘er done.
“The emotions were high, it was crazy. I don’t even remember half of the end of it. I jumped out of the frickin’ ring, it was crazy, dude. I had all my friends and family’s support right there. It was just a wild indescribable feeling. It was crazy. In the back of my mind I was like, ‘That really just happened? Okay, here we go.'”
Unsurprisingly, at the time, Lafever’s triumphant upset was a pretty big talking point in the sport. As MMA was in desperate need of snowballing into the monster it would eventually become, many were eager to cash in off of any reasonable shock value.
Promotors small and large came to Lafever in pursuit of getting him to continue on with, or start, his MMA career. Among some prominent names in the area was the Lucky Eagle Casino. Other opportunities promised a shot in the UFC after stringing together three-fight winning streaks and things alike. But bigger than that, the UFC itself would also reach out directly.
All in all, everyone received the same answer.
“People still talk about it to this day,” Lafever said. “I still get people wanting to inquire about it and ask questions. I still have people buy me drinks at bars and stuff, and I mean, it’s cool, you know? I tell people the story a little bit. I just kind of keep to myself about it, I’m not out there trying to stir up a big mess or anything. A lot of people around here know the whole story anyway. It’s mostly new people or outsiders [who don’t].
“[Continuing to fight after the win] obviously crossed my mind. Something like that has to when it happens. For me, it just wasn’t there. I know in order to be great at something you have to be all in and I wasn’t. I didn’t want to go out there and be half-ass or mediocre, so I didn’t want to put myself out there.”
Roughly two decades removed, and each coming year in MMA provides us with more and more reasons as to why it’s the greatest sport in the world. You never know what can happen and anything that can happen ultimately will happen at some point.
The stars aligned for Danny Lafever on Oct. 25. That was enough for him.
But hey… if there is one other thing that MMA has shown us over the years, it’s that retirements never last.
“We’ve kind of kicked it around it,” Lafever said of a possible rematch with Radach. “I’m sure he’d like to get in there and do it again, but for me, it’s just more of a topic — a laughing ‘haha’ [type of thing]. I mean, I might do it, I don’t know. We’ll see. If I ever did get back in, it would be him only. I would only fight him. But we’ll see where it goes, we’re kind of discussing it a little bit. We’ll see what happens.
“I told him it would be like the Roy Jones – Mike Tyson fight (laughs).”
Drake is an MMA writer based out of Brush Prairie, Washington, USA who specializes in feature pieces, the women’s fight scene, lists, news coverage, and rankings. He has been a passionate fan of MMA ever since 2009. Drake has most notably written for BJPenn.com, FanSided, The Body Lock, South China Morning Post, MyMMANews, WhatCulture, Cageside Press, Sherdog, The Scrap, and MMA Today. He has also written for and created video content for RT Sport. As for other sports, Drake is a longtime fan of the NFL’s Green Bay Packers and Jacksonville Jaguars.
You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @DrakeRiggs_ . Also check out all of his video content on YouTube at YouTube.com/DrakeRiggs where he uploads fighter interviews, podshows, and various other types of content.