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We are just hours from the biggest fight card of the year, as Pinnacle FC 12 is set to tear down the house at Syria Shriners Wednesday night. Editor's note: Please don't tear down the house, because we won't get our deposit back.
Anyway, this is a massive fight card and Thanksgiving Eve is a damn fun time to watch fights. Your old buddies who have seen this shit on TV and could totally kick everyone's ass are back in town, so invite them out to see some guys you'll eventually see fighting on TV.
Also, if ring card girls are your thing, we kind of have that part covered as well.
There will be beer, food, girls, and fights, and there is literally nothing more you could possibly need.
If you're one of those who actually need some storylines heading into the event, here's what to watch for:
5 – Which amateur(s) will be the breakout star(s)?
Of the 16 amateurs on this card, 10 have fewer than 3 fights under their belt. But don’t confuse lack of experience for lack of talent. There are some fighters on this card that we could see fighting for titles and maybe even in the professional ranks one day. We already know that fighters like Kyle Holt and Cortland Woodard are going to show up and perform, but who else will stand out on the biggest show of the year?
A few names to watch out for: Tom Gormley (1-1) had a vicious knockout at Pinnacle FC 11, Anthony Romero (1-1) is an 18-year old member of Team Canada who has black belts in literally everything, and Dillon Weston (1-0) trains every day at The Mat Factory and has a pretty extensive wrestling background.
4 – How will Philly Chris deal with the experience advantage of Charlie Gathers?
It’s not every day that you see a fighter with just one pro bout willing to step in against a 16-fight veteran who has been on a bit of a roll recently. But that’s what Chris Humes-Mitchell (1-0) will do when he takes on Charlie Gathers (9-7), as the two square off in a 140-pound catchweight bout. Gathers has taken offense to Mitchell pretty much guaranteeing a knockout, so this one could get fun.
3 – Can Nick Browne stay undefeated and pass his toughest test?
You’ve probably heard me say this a million times, but I’m a huge Nick Browne (5-0) fan. The guy just keeps getting better each and every time out. He’s not flashy, but he does literally everything right. Pinnacle FC matchmakers continue to test him and give him tougher guys, and he has a really tough foe this time out in Roufusport product R’mandel Cameron (5-1).
How will Browne fare against a guy who gets to train every day with Ben Askren, Anthony Pettis, Erik Koch, and more? If he’s able to get past this fight – a big if, considering the opponent – then expect his name to be mentioned among the top prospects in the sport.
2 – Can Khama Worthy snap out of his 2-fight funk?
A year ago on Thanksgiving Eve, Khama Worthy (7-4) knocked out Matt DiMarcantonio. It was his sixth win in a row, and he appeared destined for bigger things. This year has been a tough year for “The Death Star,” having been knocked out twice in a pair of high profile bouts. But he’s still one of the most dangerous strikers in the sport and you better believe he wants to prove that.
In Antonio Castillo Jr. (9-4) he faces a tough wrestler who has won five fights in a row and has his sights set on the next level while seeing Worthy as a stepping stone. Worthy has always had the innate ability to stay on his feet against wrestlers, so we’ll see if that continues here. Let’s not forget that Worthy is a massive fighter for the featherweight class and Castillo has competed at bantamweight in recent outings.
1 – How much longer will Dom Mazzotta be fighting on the local level?
It’s not a secret that Dominic Mazzotta (8-1) has been blowing up and is everywhere leading up to this fight. He’s this close to seeing the bright lights of the UFC, but he still has to focus on the task at hand, which is taking on a tough wrestler in former Indiana University standout Justin King (5-2). How will Dom deal with the mounting pressure to put on impressive performances, and will this be the last time we see him compete under the Pinnacle FC banner?
All of these questions and more will be answered on tonight. Space is extremely limited so reserve your seat right now.
And now, It's time for the main event of the evening!
Well, not exactly right now, but it's time for the (breakdown of) the main event of the evening!
King will be looking to play spoiler here against Mazzotta, but it's a position he's familiar with having competed in his opponents' backyard in recent fights.
Mazzotta is riding a five-fight winning streak and doesn't seem to have any plans of slowing down any time soon.
Here are the top 5 reasons why you should care about Dominic Mazzotta vs. Justin King:
5 – King has some solid wins
If you take a quick glance at his record, it’s not littered with tons of finishes, but that’s probably a product of the fact that he’s faced some tough dudes. Most recently, he’s taken out Cody Gabelman and Charlie Stanford, two durable guys who could legitimately make the next level. And he also made his pro debut back in 2013 with a win over Carson Gainey, a tough veteran who already had over 20 pro fights at that point. His only losses are to Josh Baker, who is currently 8-0, and former Pinnacle FC title challenger Darby Halferty. So in other words, homeboy is legit.
4 – Mazzotta wants to get back on AXS TV
Dom is becoming quite the TV star these days and he wants to keep that shit rolling. Aside from his family’s restaurant being featured on “Restaurant: Impossible” last week, he’s made a pair of cameo appearances on AXS TV’s “Inside MMA” for his first two finishes under the Pinnacle banner. Once you get a taste of the spotlight it's hard to come out from underneath its basking warmth. Trust me when I tell you, Mazzotta fights for these moments and is looking to make another one this week.
3 – King is a former collegiate wrestler
King got his start in combat sports as an amateur wrestler. After starring in the Indiana high school ranks, he competed at Indiana University where he graduated in 2005. You can tell from his build that he’s obviously a wrestler, built like a tank with impeccable timing on his takedowns coupled with a heavy top game. Not only does he posess arguably the best standalone skillset in fighting but competing at the collegiate level is no easy feat and takes a special type of human to thrive. It's probably why most of them do so well after transitioning to professional fist fighting.
2 – Mazzotta is ready to take that next step
Having been around this sport for quite some time, it becomes more and more obvious which fighters are primed to make it to the next level. Having seen fighters like Stipe Miocic, Jessica Eye, Matt Brown, Cody Garbrandt and others compete on the regional scene, there’s just a different swagger that those fighters have about them. Mazzotta has always been brimming with talent, but Pinnacle matchmakers keep throwing tougher guys at him and he’s walking through them by barely breaking a sweat. It has now become a challenge to find guys that he won't tear up in a minute or two let alone present a plausible challenge.
The way he viciously finishes guys reminds me of something Brian Rogers said a few years ago, and I’m paraphrasing, but basically, it was: if you want to make it to the next level, then you should be winning fights violently on the local level. That’s the easiest way to get noticed.
1 – The breakdown
One thing that I noticed about King is that even though he’s a Southpaw, he likes to lead with a big overhand left. When he throws kicks, he typically sets them up with a two-punch combo and then prefers to throw to the body and head rather than legs. He uses that big left hand to rush in for takedowns, and once he gets the fight to the ground it’s pretty much staying there. He has great positioning, but he has struggled in the past mounting offense against fighters who are active off of their backs.
Mazzotta’s game plan here has to be simple: use his takedown defense to stay off of his back, circle out from the cage, and throw knees rather than kicks to make King pay for his sometimes far out shots. I’ve noticed that King has a tendency to leave his chin exposed when looking for takedowns, and I expect Dom to capitalize on that by throwing knees or uppercuts while he looks to dig underhooks.
I think the X-factor in this fight could be Mazzotta’s ground game. I’m positive that King wants to get this fight to the ground at all costs, especially if he’s taken a look at Mazzotta’s highlight reel where he’s made a habit of cracking guys in the skull with vicious kicks. If Mazzotta can continue to attack off of his back if it gets there (or better yet, keep it from ever getting there), then it will be hard for King to win this fight. King needs to do what he’s pretty much always done: use big bombs to set up his takedowns and keep position on top.
Having been around the mixed martial arts scene for awhile at this point, one of the things that amazes me is the level of sacrifice it takes to make it to the highest level.
The great thing about this sport is that if you're not all in, then chances are you'll get passed by the next guy who is willing to go one more round, throw one more punch, or learn one more technique.
Fighters are always looking for the opportunity to gain an advantage over their opponents, and that's why I wasn't surprised when I learned that Chris "No Brotherly Love" Humes-Mitchell (1-0) recently quit his job leading up to his fight against Charlie "Madman" Gathers (9-7) at Pinnacle FC 12 next week.
In a recent interview with James Lynch from The Parting Shot, Mitchell showed exactly what he is quickly becoming a huge star in the area and could be headlining Pinnacle FC events sooner rather than later and could eventually be on his way to one of the larger organizations.
Some of the best quotes from the interview were how Mitchell talked about being recruited by the Miami Hurricanes to play football, and how he also clearly stated: "I plan on knocking [Gathers] out."
Moving forward, Mitchell is asked about how he plans on dealing with the 15-fight advantage that Gathers has, as well as his general life experience.
"I've been fighting all my life" is all he had to say.
Anyway, check out the full video interview below, and be sure to grab one of the last few tickets available for this event over at Cagetix.com.
Sometimes in the fun world of mixed martial arts, pigs can fly and they can find water on Mars.
So here we go, Antonio Castillo Jr. (9-4) is fighting on a Pinnacle FC card, and he’s doing so against one of the biggest names in the history of the organization. That’s like Hulk Hogan wrestling in WCW or seeing Sting in the WWE. We’re sure that both would never happen, until they did.
Anyway, this is a fun fight because Castillo is taking on Khama Worthy (7-4) and Khama Worthy is always fun to watch.
Here are the top 5 reasons why you should care about Khama Worthy vs. Antonio Castillo Jr.:
5 – Castillo is on a roll
After a couple of hiccups early in his career to the likes of Terry Blackwell and Frank Caraballo, Castillo has reeled off five straight wins and is still potentially being groomed for a shot in a bigger organization. He still needs to do some work, but a win over Worthy would go a long way to helping boost his resume. Also factor in that Worthy offers a very unique and frankly dangerous style and you have yourself a very legitmate win on the books.
4 – Khama is always fun to watch
Having been to a lot of Pinnacle events (Ie; all of them), Khama is always one of the fighters that fans show up to watch and the crowd is usually rocking when he fights. Obviously fans love striking and knockouts and that’s what Khama comes to do every single time. Not too mention he doesn't stress the little stuff like protecting his face all that much so you get a healthy dose of give and take.
3 – Worthy is Castillo’s first true test since Caraballo
Castillo has a few blemishes on his record against the likes of Terry Blackwell, Frank Caraballo, and a few others, but in recent fights he has been winning against decent enough competition, but nobody really with the type of firepower that Worthy has. With five wins in a row, it’s the perfect time for a good test against a guy who can put him away if he’s not truly on his game. Should he win Wednesday night he joins a pretty elite list of guys including UFC up and comer Paul Felder and Bellator's Matt Bessette. So in other words, the only guys to get past Khama have been amongst the top tier of the nation.
2 – Khama really needs a win
When you’ve lost two in a row, it’s time to tighten things up and go out and get a win. When you’ve lost two in a row via knockout, it’s time to really buckle down and make sure that doesn’t happen again. In both of his last two fights, Khama seemed to be in control. Until he wasn’t. And in both fights, he ended up where a fighter never wants to be: waking up asking the referee what happened. Worthy is a finisher and sometimes it's tough when you see the finish line to not sprint towards it with everything you have left because the distance can be deceiving. Castillo is a durable guy, if Khama tries to jump out on an early lead here he could be exposing himself to a 3rd stoppage loss in 3 fights.
1 – The breakdown
It’s not a secret what each guy wants to do here. Castillo wants the fight on the ground, while Worthy wants to keep it standing. Whichever fighter can keep it in his arsenal for the most amount of time will likely win. In football terms, think of it as the fighter who wins the time of possession battle will win the fight.
Castillo is the type of fighter who can put you on your back and keep you there for a long time, beating you up and making it possible for you to do things like count the number of ceiling tiles or blind yourself by staring into the lights above the cage. He has also shown an ability to throw big bombs to set up his shots, and I still distinctly remember how he was lighting Anthony Morgan up on the feet and I was pretty sure he was going to knock him out. Castillo has also been training a lot with new Bellator champ Daniel Straus (who will be in his corner for this fight), so you better believe that some of Straus’ ability to mix pure boxing with wrestling has rubbed off on him.
As previously mentioned, there are few fighters in this sport who have a more exciting style than The Death Star. Worthy has the ability to go from 0-60 and also from 60-0 on a dime, and that innate ability to change his timing has thrown off fighters in the past. I still remember when Matt DiMarcantonio’s coach Chris Bonfoco told me after Worthy knocked out DiMarc that Worthy was the best fighter the Canadian had faced. And this was right after Matt had just taken on highly hyped current UFC prospect Rob Font. I think that Khama’s biggest problem is that he gets a little comfortable in finding his timing and then leaves himself exposed. He’ll need to definitely keep his distance here and that pretty footwork will be on display I’m sure. As always with wrestlers, the left hook, uppercuts, and knees will be his best friends in this fight.