by Matt Lo Cascio
Mike Davis has wanted Miguel Torres to fight on one of his cards for many years. He finally got his man. The former WEC bantamweight champion will fight Giovanni Moljo on February 15 at the United Combat League show at the Hammond Civic Center.
That’s not necessarily news. But what you might not have known is that Davis was close to signing Torres years ago when he was trying to establish a bantamweight division for the short-lived Bodog Fight, a promotion that featured fighters such as Duneland Vale Tudo’s Keith Wisniewski, Chael Sonnen, Nick Thompson, Eddie Alvarez and many others.
“The WEC was recently purchased by the UFC and that they were also pursuing Miguel. It turned out to be somewhat of a bidding war and they were able to give him a larger contract than our budget allowed. In the end, Miguel made the right decision and although we didn’t do business together, we had always stayed in touch. Whenever I would run into Miguel, I would always mention to him that I wanted him back at Hammond. He would laugh, but he always had that look in his eye,” Davis told Chicago’s MMA.
One of the keys to sealing the deal was having the show at the Hammond Civic Center, where Torres fought the majority of his early fights with Total Fight Challenge and Ironheart Crown.
“The Hammond Civic Center is the crown jewel of the midwest MMA pioneer days, and the main reason it is so famous is because of all the blood and sweat Miguel gave while fighting in front of his hometown audience. As a promoter, I can not put into words the honor it is having Miguel on a card at the Civic Center.
“When Miguel and I sat down to discuss the event, we essentially had two options: we could either do an expensive ticket and have a good crowd in attendance, or we could have a ticket price that would guarantee that anyone who wanted to come see the event could afford to. It was an obvious choice. I am willing to bet that there isn’t a pro show that has been done in the Illinois/Indiana area with a ticket price as low as ours. On Feb 15, we are having a coming home party for Miguel and literally everyone is invited,” Davis said.
Although it will be the first time they work together on a fight card, Davis is almost certain it will not be the last.
“Both Miguel and I believe that this event is going to be special, if the event turns out the way he and I believe it will, I couldn’t imagine us working on another one in the near future.”
Although Torres is under contract with World Series of Fighting and is still featured on the WSOF website, he has no fights scheduled with them.
Davis isn’t sure how many events United Combat League will have in 2014, but he is sure that they will be back in Hammond, as well as 115 Bourbon Street.
“This event, outside of having Torres vs. Moljo, is kind of a coming out party for us as an organization. I do not have an exact number of events that I will be putting on, but I will say that I plan on being at the Hammond Civic Center at least four times this year. My event after this is going to be at 115 Bourbon Street on March 28, and our events will also feature some Saturday dates. I am looking at an event date in May for our next pro card in Hammond.”
Davis’ phone was working overtime after he announced the card and event, with a slew of fighters asking for a matchup to get on the card. He even received some calls from some of the sport’s luminaries.
“After I announced the card, I got a phone call from someone that I consider a lifelong friend, Wes Sims. He congratulated me on the announcement and said that he and Mark Coleman will be in attendance in order to help support the event. I have always been a fan of the Hammer House gym and for them to come out means a lot to me.”
Sims is a veteran of the UFC and a contestant on season 10 of “The Ultimate Fighter.” Coleman is the UFC Hall of Famer that is widely credited for paving the way for wrestlers to fight in the UFC, as well as being known as the “Godfather of Ground and Pound.”
The “Havoc in Hammond” show will also feature amateur fights, including a middleweight title fight between UCL champion Nick Garcia and hometown hero Josh Weddington. The two fought last July at 115 Bourbon Street, a fight that Davis says had the fans on their feet and screaming.
Gilbert Grapplng’s Matt Giancarlo will make his way back to the cage after a two-year layoff. He’ll fight Michael Dombrowski.
In other pro action, Gilbert Grappling’s Joe Benoit makes his return after more than three years away from the sport. He’ll take on Jason Graves, an exciting fighter that has fought in both Bellator and the XFO.
“Please come out and be a part of history on February 15, I promise that it will be an awesome experience for everyone,” Davis said. “But I suggest people get to this event early — it is going to be packed.”
For tickets and more information, visit the United Combat League website.