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.
Ricardo Lamas met the media at the United Center Saturday Night, just one week before his title shot against Jose Aldo at UFC 169.
Lamas talks about the support he’s getting from Chicago, how he won’t be intimidated by Jose Aldo and much more in this video by Miguel Cisneros (@MiguelCTV).
Chico Camus moved to 3-1 in the UFC with a unanimous decision victory over Yaotzin Meza at the United Center on Saturday night. Local videographer Miguel Cisneros caught up with the rising star after his big win.
Follow Miguel on Twitter: @MiguelCTV
by Matt Lo Cascio
While doctors tended to a dazed Miodrag Petkovich on the canvas at XFO 49, Adam Maciejewski donned his hat, walked to the edge of the cage, pointed his finger at the crowd and said, ‘This is my house.’ There were no disagreements.
You wouldn’t have known it was Maciejewski’s first fight in the U.S. in over four years. His body look chiseled, his cardio was excellent and he violently finished off Petkovich in the second round.
Petkovich is no longer the man that beat former UFC fighters Tim Hague, Travis Fulton and Igor Pokrajac. He’s now 44, but he remains durable, smart and strong. None of that mattered to Maciejewski, as he threw the 240-pound Serb around the cage as if he was tossing the morning paper at your front door. He made it look that easy, walking him down and engaging until he got what he wanted: a fantastic finish that screamed ‘I’m back!’
The immediate questions that came to mind after the fight: Where has Maciejewski been and how did he dominate like that after so much time away from the sport?
“The main reason for taking several years off was due to a knee injury which occurred during a fight. The end result was knee surgery. During all of this I was going through personal problems which stood in the way of training,” Maciejewski told Chicago’s MMA. “The reason I came back is simple, I can’t live without fighting. I believe this is in my blood. I’m 33 years old now, my body is the strongest it’s ever been. It’s time to show the non-believers that I can steer something serious in this sport.”
Maciejewski fights out of Midwest Training Center in Schaumburg, and his coach Alex Trujillo was counting on him to put on a comeback like that.
“I was pretty impressed and I have to say that we did expect him to be able to dominate the fight. We know Miodrag pretty well, he’s very tough and experienced. In fact, a few sites were picking him to beat Adam. We knew he would be tough but Adam is looking great right now so we felt like he could not only win but do it in impressive fashion. He did just that,” Trujillo said.
Maciejewski and his coach have deleted the long layoff from their minds, both strongly focused on attaining huge goals in 2014.
“There are a few fights on the way. In February I will be fighting in Poland and in March at XFO 50. I can’t hide the fact that I want to end both fights with a knockout. 2014 is going to be my year. I can say with confidence that my trainers and I are aiming very high,” Maciejewski said. How high? “The UFC of course.”
Trujillo has the same goal in mind, and a plan laid out to get Maciejewski to the big stage.
“Adam is already back to training and we are currently preparing for the fight in March. After that we want maybe one more smaller win and then yes, we have some plans for Adam to get back to the higher level of the sport. When he puts a couple more wins together and if he can finish those fights as well, then I think he will be ready to fight some of the sport’s best. 2014 will be a big year for Adam. He is certainly in a great position to do some big things in the heavyweight division.”
Maciejewski has the privilege of fighting in front of a huge fan base here in Chicago, where his fellow Poles come out to support him in a big way. He now goes by the nickname ‘Maja,’ although I remember him as the ‘Polish Pitbull’ from back in his IFL days.
There was also plenty of media following him and Rafal Skibinski at XFO 49, trying to capture every moment of the experience on both video and photo. They stalked around the apron of the cage, drawing the scorn of the event’s sanctioning body for repeatedly breaking the rules. At one point, a cage-side official had to raise his voice to get a photographer off the apron and back down to the floor. “But that’s my guy,” the photographer pleaded, smiling.
“I definitely appreciate all the support from my fans and friends in Chicago. I love this city and I would like to fight here whenever possible,” Maciejewski said.
“Maya” is so popular with his fans that he even has a Polish rap song about him. Here is a clip of the song with highlights from the Petkovich fight interspersed.
Can Maciejewski get to the UFC in just one year after being away from the sport for almost five years? It’s a very lofty goal, but don’t be surprised if it happens.
Video of the XFO 49 fight between Adrian Ortega (LCCT/Rothwell MMA) and Pat Hastings (Midwest Training Center).
XFO 49 heavyweight fight between Team Curran’s Erick “The Ram” Correa and MTC’s Wes “Wookie Foot” Anderson.
XFO Featherweight Championship
Jordan Wiggins (Dion Riccardo) def. Tommy Hawley (Rockford Combat) UD
XFO Welterweight Championship
Dustin Stusse (Patriot Boxing) def. Vince DeCicco (Team Curran) 2:55 RD. 1, TAP- Guillotine
XFO Middleweight Championship
Ivan Garcia def. Mike Zahn 2:36 RD.1, TKO- Strikes
XFO 49 AMATEUR RESULTS
Chris Gutierrez (Team No Ego) def. Bronson Koenig :24, RD.2 TAP-RNC
Aaron Robertson (MTC) def. Ian Jackson (Energy MMA) RD. 1 :43, KO
Brandon Andriola (MTC) def. Kevin Watkins (MMA Stop/Counterstrike) 2:27 RD. 1, Verbal Tap-strikes
Curtis Doner def. Maximillian Fuentes (Top Notch) UD
Chris Johnson (Team Top Notch) vs. Matt O’Boyle (Gilbert Grappling) 1:23 RD. 1, Tap-RNC
Eddie Whitney def. Ben Grabowski (Team No Ego) 1:56 RD. 2, TKO-Strikes
Chris Affinati def. Rafael Ramirez via UD
Natalie Barczyk (Evolution MMA) def. Nicole Brown (Patriot Boxing) 2:00 RD. 2, TKO
Tina Gomez (MTC) def. Kim Roegner 2:09 RD. 3, TKO-Strikes VIDEO
Nicolas Billegas def. Dan Martinez via UD
Sandy Thomas def. Shauna Stevenson 2:57, RD.2 TKO-Strikes VIDEO
Keith Wenzel (Ottawa MMA) def. Anthony Kelly, :26 RD.1, TKO-Strikes
Jeremy Miller (Patriot Boxing) def. Edgar Flores (MTC) UD
Chris Conway (Patriot Boxing) def. Donny Simpson (MTC) via split decision
by Matt Lo Cascio
“You wanna take this inside?” No, that’s not how the Mike Marrello vs. Rob Morrow rematch was agreed to, but the fighters will do it again Friday night at the Sears Centre for XFO 49.
Their first fight took place on a beautiful summer night in August at the annual XFO Outdoor War, some 80+ days — and degrees — ago. Both fighters are ready to work, and hoping to secure a more specific outcome: No scorecards and no debate over who won.
“No judges this time. He already got his Christmas gift back in August from them and Santa,” Morrow said.
Marrello got the official victory in August via split decision, but it was hotly debated locally, especially among the two combatants.
“I know I won! I have watched that fight over, and over, and over… I was real defensive and back peddling but I had the most effective strikes,” Marello told Chicago’s MMA. “Look at his face. He had three cuts and he can say all he wants, but I broke his nose. His legs were red from me kicking the crap out of them. On top of all that, even though he was moving forward, he wasn’t hitting me as nearly as much as he was throwing. I stood up and fought with this guy which is what he is good at. Also, I kneed him in the third round and he winced and he played it off like I kneed him in the junk. Watch the tape — I kneed him on the belt line and I hurt him. The judges saw it for me and I agree.”
Morrow, as you would expect, sees it quite differently.
“He knows I won that fight,” Morrow said. “I thought I won rounds one and two. In round three he got the take down by timing my kick and ended up in my guard not doing anything. Knowing we had the two previous rounds, we (my coaches and me) decided to stay on bottom not letting him catch me with a submission as I go to stand or reverse.”
Rematches usually include some amount of bad blood between fighters. This bout has its share, although it’s not over the top.
“It seems like Morrow is doing more of the trash talking, Mr. ‘I’m going to be judge, juror and executioner’, Marrello said. “So I don’t think there is bad blood.”
Morrow has taken the rematch much more personally. “There is bad blood because he knows I won that fight and he hasn’t fought since, only taking this fight cause he knows I’m a working class fighter. I’ve fought twice since, and was just on vacation with my kids and wife at the Dells.”
Morrow keeps a frenetic pace and Marrello can’t be blamed for not fighting since August, especially since it was his first fight in two years. He says that this time there will be no cage rust and fans will notice a tremendous difference in one area of his game.
“My cardio. You guys will see. Another thing people forget is I had just about two years off from the cage. I was still training, just a little rusty. Like I told XFO MMA, I am going to be the best I have ever been in my career Friday the 13th. I have learned so much over the years from life and my losses. I am so glad everyone will be there to see me put all of my hard work and training together,” Marrello said.
Morrow’s not worried about any improvements in Marrello’s game. “I’m trying to get to a big show, make my mark and get the notice I deserve. He’s in my way.”
Energy MMA’s Mike Finch weathered an early storm from Nico Jefferson, patiently worked his ground game and earned himself Hidden Talent MMA’s welterweight title at “Who’s Next Round 5″ on Saturday in Lake County.
Finch told the crowd in a post-fight interview that he’s retiring from fighting, but will continue to coach. In the near future Finch hopes to capture a NAGA championship in the men’s expert division and finish his college education.