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|Does it get any better than this one?|
|Written by Ben Pherson|
|Thursday, 16 August 2012 15:22|
As far as local mixed martial arts cards go, this one takes the cake.
Aside from the few big shows at Target Center in the past two years, no show has featured more top-notch local matchups than Saturday's Downtown Showdown 9 presented by SEG/Driller at the Minneapolis Hyatt.
Start time is listed as 7:15 p.m., with doors opening at 6:30. Tickets start at $35.
Matchmaker Jeremy Bjornberg said he's thrilled about the fight card he's put together for this mega event, which features a main event between two of the state's top-ranked 155-pounders -- Dan Moret and Damion Hill.
"Honestly, I probably stacked this card a little too much and maybe I should have spread out some of these great fights," Bjornberg said. "But I just hope the fans appreciate it. So far, it looks like they have. Ticket sales have been better than ever before, so we're hoping it will be a full house. I love the fight card; there are a couple of fights that are all main-event worthy."
Hill (6-1) and Moret (2-0) have been on a collision course for some time. It's a fight that had been talked about when both were rising amateur prospects. Now, they're two of the state's top pros at lightweight. Moret is ranked No. 6 and Hill, who recently suffered his first pro loss down in Iowa, is No. 7.
Bjornberg said the winner is destined for a big show. And actually, win or lose, both guys could earn a quick promotion.
Moret recently began training at the Minnnesota Martial Arts Academy. He's already shown a great deal of improvement since joining the state's top gym.
Hill is with Crystal Fight Club -- a team that has taken the local scene by storm.
"This fight has been a long time coming; it's been talked about for two or three years now," Bjornberg said. "I was happy I could put it together. It's the best fight we could think of. Everyone asked for it, and I wanted to see it. Both guys were willing and they stepped up. I am positive both guys will fight in the
big show, win or lose. I'm certain of it. The winner has to be considered a top prospect from Minnesota. I already know I can get the winner into a big show right now. There are options already available. I just can't wait to see this fight."
The night's co-main event will happen at a catch weight of 150 pounds, and it will involve two more ranked fighters.
Coming off of his impressive win over Billy Christianson, Nick Compton (5-2) returns to action to take on rising star Randy Kittleson (4-1).
Compton earned a spot in the state's 155-pound rankings, moving up to No. 9 after the win over Christianson. It's a fight that many have called a contender for fight of the year.
Compton is another fighter who has improved greatly due to his work at The Academy. He got his start training with a legend in Dave Menne.
At one point, Compton was just 3-2 in his career. But he's won two straight over top opponents, and his only two losses are to Hill (decision) and Jason Benson (a loss he avenged later).
Kittleson is a flashy fighter who can finish a fight on the ground and on his feet. He's been training at the Get Sum Compound, and he does a great deal of work with Brock Larson.
"This fight will be tough to top," Bjornberg said. "This is a main event on pretty much any show. Kittleson is a great finisher. He will try everything under the sun. Heck, he'll invent stuff. He might be the best finisher in the state. But Compton, he's just a proven, rugged, well-rounded customer. He's been boxing a lot at Circle of Discipline, and his hands are 10 fold better now. Watching him in there, you wouldn't even know he's an MMA guy. I see this being a great fight, maybe the best one of the card. I'm excited. It's one of those fights where I feel like I overloaded the card, but I hope the fans appreciate it and come out and support a couple of fights like this."
But Bjornberg wasn't done putting together main-event worthy fights. He also has a Bellator veteran and fan favorite stepping back into the cage.
Nick "The Big Hurt" Kirk will take on Jimmy Zidek (6-3) of Wisconsin in a battle two of the Midwest's top 135-pounders.
Kirk is ranked No. 1 in Minnesota, while Zidek is No. 1 in Wisconsin.
Kirks still is under contract with Bellator. He has another Bellator fight lined up, but Bjornberg said he must perform well in this fight to make his way back onto the big show.
Kirk's an excellent wrestler and he continues to improve his skills at The Academy.
"This is a super tough fight for both guys," Bjornberg said. "Jimmy's record doesn't show how tough he is. He's like 6-3, but he's only fought tough guys, and he's beaten tough guys. For the last year, he's really been on a tear. He will give Kirk all he can handle. But Kirk needed a tough fight. He wants to earn his way back into Bellator. He needs to look good in this fight. It's going to be tough. Zidek is a tall, athletic dude, and he's tough to take down."
There also is an amateur title fight on the card. Fresh off of his extremely impressive win over Canadian product Blair Gutta, Randy Lene (6-2) is back in action against submission expert Zaur Jalil (3-1).
Bjornberg was very impressed with Jalil's effort in his last fight. And Lene has been impressive since the day he started fighting for SEG/Driller. He's 5-0 since signing on with SEG.
"I'm really looking forward to this one," Bjornberg said. "Randy has had some close calls and some tough fights. And Jalil had one of the best submissions I've seen with that scarf choke. Now Randy is over at Horsepower and at Spartan, so he just keeps getting better. Zaur is an Olympic caliber judo guy, and he's been training very hard. He's taking this fight seriously. Both guys are fantastic, and it could be the last amateur fight for both."
The last big-time matchup on the pro portion of the card comes at 155 pounds. Crystal Fight Club product Stephen Watt (3-0) is set to battle veteran Taurean Bogguess (14-0) of Illinois.
Bogguess is a seasoned fighter, who went three rounds with UFC veteran Marcus LeVesseur. Watt is a rising prospect, who's ranked No. 8 in Minnesota at 145.
"Bogguess has always been a tough guy, a guy who brings it every time," Bjornberg said. "It's a perfect test for Watt considering where he's at in his career. It's a great matchup. I think both will bring it right from the opening bell."
After a stellar amateur career, Codie "The Dream Smasher" Kahler is making his pro debut Saturday night. Kahler has been impressive in his last few outings, showing off a new physique and a well-rounded game. He will make his pro debut against veteran Starr Roberts (3-14).
"Codie has been fighting with us since he started his career, and he's fought a lot of tough dudes," Bjornberg said. "He's done very well. I'm thinking it's a great first pro fight for him. Starr Roberts did better against Dan Moret than people thought he would. He will bring it. His performance earned him another shot with us."
Completing the pro portion of the card are a couple of SEG prospects who are working at The Academy -- 135-pounders Pat Magdaleno (1-0) and Carl Deaton III (1-0). Both are from Michigan.
Magdaleno will take on Zach Kellso, while Deaton is set to square off against Chad Vaudrin.
"Magdaleno looked great last time out, and he brought a good fan base with him," Bjornberg said. "I think this is a similar type fight for him, and Kellso is a guy who can hang in there with some of the top guys. Deaton is working his butt off. He's got a lot of work to do, but he's already improved a lot. I think Vaudrin is another good test for him."
On the amateur portion of the card, prospect Sean Richman (2-0) is back after serving his country, and he's ready to tear up the 145-pound division. Richman is training at The Academy now, and he will take on another prospect from Wisconsin, Adam Martin (1-0).
"Because of his name, it's tough to get people to fight Richman," Bjornberg said. "But Martin stepped right up. Adam came in last time and made a statement, putting that kid to sleep in like 20 seconds. He's a confident, cocky kid. I know he's coming in here thinking he's getting a win, already talking about who he will face next. Sean is at the Academy and he's having a great camp. I think this will be a fun fight."
Mikey Waverek (6-3) and C.T. Bailey (5-4) will clash at a catch weight of 160 in what Bjornberg said is one of his favorite fights on the card.
"I really like this one," he said. "Mikey has fought anybody and everybody. Both guys are tough, athletic wrestlers. Mikey is a talented guy, and I think both guys have a chance to do well on our shows. Bailey's head kicks from both sides are scary good. Honestly, he reminds me a little of Marcus (LeVesseur) athletically. He's a crazy athlete. I have no idea how he's only 5-4, because from what I've seen, he's a stud."
Completing the card are a couple of Mankato Martial Arts products in Steve Moore and Clay Uddley. Moore is making his debut against Angel Pacheco (1-1) and Uddley (0-2) will look to earn his first win against Alphonse Weah (1-1).
"I think both of those fights will be fun," Bjornberg said. "With Moore and Pacheco, they are two guys that both of their coaches just rave about. Both are having great camps and are ready to fight on this stage and impress. I don't know a lot about Uddley or Weah, but I've heard both are exciting, so it should be a great way to start the night."
DOWNTOWN SHOWDOWN 9
Saturday * Minneapolis Hyatt
155 -- Damion Hill (6-1) vs. Dan Moret (2-0).
150 -- Randy Kittleson (4-1) vs. Nick Compton (5-2).
135 -- Jimmy Zidek (6-3) vs. Nick Kirk (9-1).
135 -- Zaur Jalil (3-1) vs. Randy Lene (6-2).
155 -- Stephen Watt (3-0) vs. Taurean Bogguess (14-9).
135 -- Patrick Magdaleno (1-0) vs. Zach Kellso (0-5).
135 -- Carl Deaton (1-0) vs. Chad Vaudrin (3-7).
155 -- Codie Kahler (0-0) vs. Starr Roberts (3-14).
145 -- Sean Richman (2-0) vs. Adam Martin (1-0)
160 -- C.T. Bailey (5-4) vs. Mikey Waverek (6-3).
145 -- Steve Moore (0-0) vs. Angel Pacheco (1-1).
155 -- Alphonse Weah (1-1) vs. Clay Uddley (0-2).