Last night at Wicked Good Bar & Grill at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, RI, sixteen fighters tipped the scales, faced off and set the stage for the first ever sanctioned mixed martial arts event in the state of Rhode Island. (slide show below)
It was an interesting scene as one by one, each fighter settled up his paperwork with the doctors and the commission and waited his turn to step on the scale. Make no mistake, if you are a fan of MMA, it is quite an experience to be in a small room filled with hungry, thirsty, cranky fighters at the tail-end of a weight-cut who are anxious to step on the scales and get to rehydrating themselves. Mat Santos put it succinctly enough when he said "I haven't eaten since Tuesday."
Main event fighters Mike "The Beast" Campbell and Magno Almeida each made weight at 156 pounds, taking up the allotted one pound overage in this lightweight battle. This looks to be a really interesting clash in styles as the always entertaining banger Campbell will look to counter the submission skills of Fenix Fight Club prospect Almeida. A win for either fighter in the main event of the first sanctioned card in Rhode Island could go a long way towards pushing them towards the sport's bigger stages.
Co-main event heavyweights Parker Porter and Lee Beane stepped up next with Beane needing nearly every bit of the 265 pound limit. In a rather humorous moment, Porter stepped on the scales in full dress, including his shoes. One couldn't help but be amused at the contrast between Porter and many of the lighter fighters who had been starving themselves over the past week.
The rest of the weigh-ins did not lack for storyline or incident. Lightweight fighters Luis Felix (157) and Joe Dechaves (157.5) both came in heavy for their lightweight match-up. However, both fighters quickly accepted each others overage and agreed to move forward without further weight cutting required.
Such was not the case when Lionel Young (156.5) came in a tad heavy against an already undersized Jarred Johnson (150). Young's camp was not happy when Johnson initially asked for Young to weigh in at 156 or surrender a piece of his fight purse. Well within his rights to ask for his opponent to be on-weight, Johnson, a natural 145 pound fighter, acknowledged that he is already giving up weight to a heavier Young. After an annoyed Young briefly disappeared, presumably to cut the remaining half-pound, Johnson offered to Young's camp that he would take the fight with Young a half pound heavy without having to surrender any of his purse. Shortly afterwards, Young reappeared, hit the scales again and was on-weight at 156.
One of the more compelling storylines developed towards the end of the evening as an active duty member of the US Army showed up and took a fight on about two hours notice. Army Staff Sergeant Richard O'Connor showed up late to the weigh-ins, still in his Army digital combat uniform and hit the scales. O'Connor said "I don't even know who my opponent is. I just got a call a couple hours ago and they asked me if I wanted to fight." A boxer, O'Connor told me that this is his first foray into mixed martial arts. He admitted that he did not know a thing about his opponent's style. O'Connor will take on another fighter making his pro debut, California's Bill Burley.
The full card is as follows:
Magno Almeida (156) vs. Mike Campbell (156)
Lee Beane (265) vs. Parker Porter (255)
Saul Almeida (156) vs. Pete Jeffrey (156)
Luis Felix (157) vs. Joe Dechaves (157.5)
Bill Burley (185) vs. Richard O'Connor (181)
Mat Santos (185) vs. Stephen Stengel (181.5)
Lionel Young (156) vs. Jarred Johnson (150)
Todd Sweeney (132) vs. Jose Adriano (136)