by Matt Lo Cascio
An important bantamweight clash goes down Saturday night at XFO 57, when Team 110’s Manny Vazquez (7-1) takes on Team Curran’s Cory Galloway (7-4). Both fighters aspire to reach the highest echelon of the sport, and this battle will definitely have career path implications.
Though neither fighter likes to talk trash much, they certainly don’t lack for confidence heading into the fight.
“On Saturday night I’m getting into a fight and I’m going to beat him up,” Galloway said.
Vazquez, who already has a win against one of Galloway’s teammates, wants to finish decisively. “Choke, punch, knees, doesn’t matter. I just want to put him to sleep.”
Vazquez choked out Team Curran’s Vince Romandine at XFO 50, a card Galloway also fought on when he was involved in a brutal war with Danny Aguirre. Galloway isn’t saying revenge is a factor, but you’ve got to believe a win over Vazquez would taste a bit sweeter than any other opponent.
“It’s not so much revenge as it is just representing for my team and showing the higher level that Team Curran has always had. I fight with a lot of pride for my coaches, Jeff Curran and Doug Mango, and our whole team, so I love getting to fight someone from the area who people consider impressive. I will shut him down and show off.”
Obviously Galloway isn’t one of the many who consider Vazquez to be “impressive.”
“He’s a grappler. He’s one dimensional, he wants to grab on, hold on and be boring. I’m gonna go in as always and display my superior skills. I’ll hurt him and I’ll finish him.”
Shade thrown. Shots fired. And game on.
“It doesn’t bother me in the slightest when people talk, that’s how you have to think in this sport,” Vazquez said. “I’m sure he’s taking the fight seriously and knows he’s in for a fight though. If you don’t believe you’re going to win you’re probably in the wrong sport — even if he is sadly mistaken.”
Vazquez was a bit more complimentary of Galloway, but still pointed out what he says are flaws in his game.
“Win or lose, Cory is always fun to watch. He’s a tough guy for sure, always comes to fight and is very active wherever the fight goes. But I see some little mistakes he makes and I’m pretty confident I can capitalize.”
Galloway also sees some distinct advantages in his favor. “I know that I will put him in a lot of trouble on the feet. My skill level is just a lot higher. I’m going to go out there and just fight. No specific game plan, just handle business and grab a W.”
Not every local pro fight is important in the grander scheme of MMA. Some fights are just that — fights. That doesn’t mean the combatants are any less skilled or entertaining. Those fights just don’t have the reach that fights like this one do, with both fighters aspiring to make it to the UFC, and near the cusp of doing so.
Galloway turned pro almost four years ago at Bellator 60, and the UFC is still his career goal.
“UFC is definitely the plan. My career hasn’t gone perfectly, I have some losses that I didn’t want to have but it has helped shape me as a fighter. I have a lot of experience now and I’ve grown up a lot in the cage. I’m ready to start competing with the best in the world and Saturday night is another step up the ladder.”
Vazquez recently suffered the first loss of his career, a tough hurdle for some young fighters to clear.
“It’s definitely changed my thinking a bit, and for the better. You get so caught up in the sport and training that you start to neglect other parts of your life. The last fight definitely put into perspective who and what really matters. Although it still bothers me because I know I was the better fighter, there’s a lot to appreciate and a lot going for me outside of the cage as well, which takes some of the pressure away and makes it easier to focus and fight my fight.”
Galloway hopes a win will get him back to a national promotion. Defeating Vazquez would make it three straight, and four wins in his last five fights.
“I’ll be looking to get back in there and keep putting distance in from my losses. The only thing I can control is my performance, so I’ll keep putting on impressive performances and take my opportunities as they come.”
Vazquez says this will be his last fight in front of a home crowd for a while, so he’s going to savor it. “I’m extremely excited to hear the UIC Pavilion blow up when I walk in this Saturday, that’s an incredible feeling. It’s not often two of the state’s top prospects face each other so this is definitely an exciting fight for Chicago MMA.”
For tickets to XFO 57, visit LocalMMATickets.com.