Posted On:2/08/2008 2:07pm
Mixed martial arts fighters near and far get the chance of a lifetime
Local fighters get chance to strut stuff in front of sport’s No.1 man
By Jack Encarnacao
The Patriot Ledger
Posted Feb 06, 2008 @ 10:43 PM
Last update Feb 07, 2008 @ 03:45 PM
Mark Giove was just another local guy installing kitchens for a living and sitting on his couch doing next to nothing the rest of the day.
Then his 2-year-old son developed a brain tumor, and he decided to begin training hard for mixed martial arts fighting.
“It kicked me in the butt,” said Giove, 31, who lives in Whitman and graduated from Rockland High School. “I wanted to be able to tell my kid when I got older that when he was going through something tough, his dad was going through something tough, too.”
His is just one among a myriad of motivating factors that fighters from across New England will bring to a World Championship Fighting card on Friday night at the Aleppo Shriners Auditorium in Wilmington.
But regardless of the role their personal back stories play, every fighter will have one overriding motivation in the back of his mind that night: The sport’s head honcho, as well as reps from one of the top sponsors for fighters, will be front-row.
Dana White, a former Boston resident and president of the industry-leading Ultimate Fighting Championship, whose presence is just as large as his influence, will make a rare appearance at the events. For fighters, it’s kind of like being a AAA baseball player and getting the exclusive attention of Bud Selig.
“Usually when I go to these kind of fights, I end up grabbing somebody,” White said. “Let me tell you what: anybody that comes out and impresses me, believe me, they’ll make it into the UFC or on the “Ultimate Fighter” (television show). They’ll end up somewhere.”
White is lifelong friends with Joe Cavallaro, a Lynnfield resident and an agent for fighters who created WCF last year. In many ways, it’s the biggest card yet for local fighters.
“Not only does everybody get the opportunity to fight, but they get the opportunity to fight in front of Dana and guys who could potentially pick them up and sponsor them,” Cavallaro said.
Parlaying a fight in front of White into national stardom is not a pipe dream. Case in point is Kenny Florian, a Dover resident who White came upon at a fight card he attended on a lark at a nightclub in Revere in 2004. Florian showed heart against a much more experienced opponent.
“An absolute dog fight, it was such a good fight,” White said. “I felt compelled to go back to the dressing room and meet him.”
A few years later, Florian was fighting for his weight class’s title belt in the UFC and known to millions of fans.
Nate Kittredge, 29, a high school wrestling coach, will make the trek from his secluded Vermont training camp for his Feb. 8 fight. He knows it’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to establish himself in the sport.
“You could be fighting with an 8-0 or 10-0 record in New England and never make it to the UFC,” Kittredge said. “For Dana White to be there, that’s your chance. That’s your chance for any fighter who wants to make it to that level.”
As for Giove, he said White’s presence will not much affect his approach to his fight, but he can’t deny the extra charge it will put into the night’s action.
“It’s cool,” Giove said. “I’m fairly confident that after my fight I’m going to be able to say, ‘You know what, Dana White came to see me fight, and I knocked my guy out.”
Headlining the card will be Dan Lauzon, an East Bridgewater product and younger brother of UFC lightweight force and former Quincy resident Joe Lauzon.
Dan, the youngest fighter to ever compete in the UFC at age 19 in 2006, will reap benefits from the high profile of the Feb. 8 card.
Lauzon will star in the show “TapOut,” a documentary-style program on the Versus cable channel that chronicles up-and-coming fighters, created by those behind the ultra-lucrative “TapOut” fight clothing brand. “TapOut” cameras will follow Lauzon, who got a sponsorship deal, all the way to his fight against Connecticut-based Frank Latina.
“It was the best move for my career,” Lauzon said. “They’re with me win or lose I’m so ready to go. I’m doing all the right things.”
TapOut crews filmed Lauzon training at Bishop’s Boxing in West Bridgewater and at home with family this past week and like what they see.
“We want to see how you’re being taught to put it all together,” said “Mask,” a face-painted TapOut executive who declined to give his real name. “I’m going to find the fighters before anybody else finds them. You have to support all levels (of the sport).”
Lauzon, the only fighter on the Feb. 8 card who has competed under the bright lights of the UFC, said fighters might not think the presence of White and TapOut cameras will be a factor, but they’ll change their minds once they step through the ropes.
“Right now, the fighters probably don’t think it’s going to affect them too much,” he said, “but the night of the fight, once they see these top guys out there, and they see Dana sitting in the crowd, it’s going to hit them.”
Pictures at link.
I'm not understanding why D-Lau has to do that Tapout show and fight at little promotions. He deserves a few more shots since he took the Spencer Fisher fight on like 2 weeks notice.
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