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Matt Giancarlo talks Havoc in Hammond, Ghost Sector

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Matt Giancarlo vs. Jason Crose, Cut Throat Invasion Chicago

by Matt Lo Cascio

One of the more colorful personalities in local MMA belongs to Matt Giancarlo. The Gilbert Grappling bantamweight is a renaissance man of sorts. Besides fighting, he’s also a guitarist, photographer and punk-rock aficionado. The kicker? He likes comic books too. Giancarlo will return to the cage for his first fight in almost two years when he fights Michael Dombrowski, February 15 at United Combat League’s “Havoc in Hammond.”

There’s no doubt he tired of all the questions from friends and fans about when he was coming back. If you’re a fighter, you’re incessantly asked “When’s your next fight?” It’s everyone’s go to question. For someone that wasn’t ready and actually didn’t want to fight, all those people turned into a legion of Judge Smails-like goads echoing the half-taunt, half-question: “Well…we’re waiting!”

He fell out of love with the sport. The euphoria of winning was nice, but hardly worth the mental and physical grind of training. I interviewed Giancarlo before his last fight in 2012, and he gave not-so-subtle hints about his growing distaste for the sport. To wit: he hoped MMA would die and go under.

But that was then and this is now. Giancarlo is back to fighting. Still, inquiring minds want to know — why come back now?

“Six, no — two months ago, I would’ve told you that I’m retired from MMA. Things change so much, so often that it’s crazy,” Giancarlo told Chicago’s MMA.

“It’s been such a layoff for me that I started to miss being on the mat so much, and lifting weights at LA Fitness just wasn’t doing it for me. A little while after my last fight (March 2012), I suffered a an injury in practice, that I still feel to this day, to be honest. At the time, it was painful driving, let alone me thinking I could get back into training any time soon. So all I was really able to do was sit at home playing and writing music. That lead to me starting a band called Ghost Sector.

Matt Giancarlo in Ghost Sector

“Since then, it kind of became my main focus, and we’ve been on the road and released an EP. As for future plans, I learned I need to just go with the flow. Right now all I’m focused on is the 15th, where I get to step back in the cage, and play with my band at my own after party. It’s hard to have fun with this sport, but I’m finally finding out how.”

That plan — playing a set with your band at an after party following your own MMA fight — shows that Giancarlo still has all the confidence in his game and thinks he will come out of the match unscathed. It might seem a bit arrogant, but it’s all part of his new goal in MMA: make it fun.

“It’s not that I don’t respect who my opponent is, in regard to me playing the same night. MMA is grueling, it’s difficult to train for, and the training itself really sucks. It’s not just about how hard it is physically, but mentally it’s even worse. You can’t have fun at all. So that’s what I’m trying to do, I’m trying to have as much fun possible during this training camp — and on fight night.”

Ghost Sector will be playing at The Mutiny after “Havoc in Hammond.” The set will be more fun after a win than a loss, but either way, Giancarlo plans to just go with the flow from here on out.

For tickets to United Combat League’s “Havoc in Hammond,” visit the United Combat League website.

About Matt Lo Cascio

Matt Lo Cascio is a former TV producer who turned to new media in 2005, and he is the co-founder and editor of Chicago’s MMA. He is also the play-by-play announcer for the XFO. His work has been published by ESPN.com, DraftKings, The Comeback, FanSided and more.

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