Friday, October 29, 2010

Matrix Fights III tonight: More MMA, this time, of the sustainable variety

By Charles Cieri

Matrix Fights III goes down tonight. On the heels of last week’s scene-shifting Bellator 33, this fight is important for a few reasons. Number one, best outlined in last week's Inquirer article, the success of these types of fights will make or break the scene. Also it has legit match-ups, most notably, Julio Rosario v Brylan Vanartsdalen and Azunna Anyanwu’s pro debut. Lastly, Matrix promoter Jimmy Binns has gained something of a track record for giving the spectator his and her money’s worth.

While Bellator 33 was a sensational success, Bellator is gone with no indication on when it will return. The promotion’s star draw and the city’s best known fighter, Eddie Alvarez, could make MMA huge in the city — Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney called him a one man promotional machine — but no local promoter could afford him unless, god-forbid, he sustains a tremendous loosing streak. He won’t be back in this up-and-coming market, save the occasional appearance.

There are other options, Wilson Reis is almost in reach for the local promoters as is Anthony Morrison, both have made one appearance but at 25 and 26 years-old respectively, that will only be an outside chance for a little while longer (you can call me on that, I see both these guys taking off and joining Alvarez and Frankie Edgar to make the region the 145-155 mecca).

So, realistically, there is no one-man in the price range that can shoulder this scene. That leaves two immediate solutions to build the scene on, has-beens and up-and-comers. I’m not going to go into the first option and thankfully, for the most part, local promoters are in accord. As for up-and-comers, we have the programs — the best on the East Coast (again, call me on it) — and the first crop of local bound fighters from those camps have been entertaining crowds since August 2009. The only question is how much opportunity will there be for prospects to challenge each other, weed out non-hackers and elevate the pedigree. This question loosely translates to revenue. If the promoters can turn a profit, they will put on more shows and turn on the power to this potential MMA furnace.

The match-ups on this card provide solid fuel for that furnace, thanks to match-maker Sam Caplan. There are plenty of names that have distinguished themselves to some extent in previous shows. Brian Pitaniello, Geroge Hibbs and Mathew Friedeborn will be on this card and anyone of them could put on a surprise fight-of-the-night.

Great fight-nights aren’t built on potential standouts however, and this card has its proven draws. Julio Rosario has a great story and a killer push to finish the fight, training out of Semper Fi MMA, a relatively new gym on the scene, this event was more or less built around him and much can be made about how he steps up to that pressure. His opponent Brylan Vanartsdalen comes from the solid Daddis FC. Although, we didn’t see much of his standup in his last fight (he submitted his opponent 15 seconds in), this is his third nod from Sam Caplan, meaning he has the eye of a very distinguishing and well informed talent scout.

Also on the card are Jeff Cressman and Azunna Anyanwu. Cressman, a 135 pounder, was caught early in his last fight to my extreme surprise. His previous appearance was a fight-of-the-night three round slug-fest. Look for him to return to that intensity. Anyanwu has come out of nowhere to run up on the heavyweight radar. His pro-debut is both early (only two amateur fights is two short of the usual procedure) and way late, with a purple belt from Jared Weiner and handwork from Daddis FC, he gets my pick against any heavyweight thus far on the scene.

The fights start at 7pm and goes down at the Philadelphia Sheet Metal Workers’ Local at 1301 Columbus Boulevard. The on-line tickets are sold out but more tickets should be available at the door.

No comments: