Pinnacle FC 14 is just around the corner. And by just around the corner, I mean, as soon as you turn the corner, you better be watching out for a patented Dom Mazzotta spinning elbow because that's how fast it's coming. We don't want any of you to get hurt.
Anyway, Matt Leyshock told me that each article has to be at least 50 words of B.S., so that's what you're reading here.
Our breakdown today features the premiere amateur bout on this Friday's card. Wait, you didn't think we were just going to roll with five fights, did you? We'd never do that.
Anyway (again), Friday's amateur card is anchored by a lightweight title bout featuring two up and comers. And by up and comers, I mean these guys can't even drink legally in the United States.
You're just dying to know the two names of the competitors, but we'll get there eventually. I get paid by the word, so might as well grab another 50 cents while I can.
Mike Walters (6-2) vs. Anthony Romero (5-1)
Let's check out the five reasons why you should care about this fight.
5 - That whole drinking thing
As we mentioned, neither one of these guys can legally buy a beer here in America, although Romero can have one when he gets back home to Canada. If you're looking for the next crop of stars, then one - or both - of these guys could be it. In a few years, we'll probably look back in amazement that two guys who are nationally recognized squared off so early in their respective careers. Romero is 19 and Walters is just 18.
4 - Romero is a black belt in, like, everything
His coach Chris Bonfoco always gets mad at me for mentioning his taekwando black belt, so I guess I have to do that here. He's also a black belt in jiu-jitsu and probably in tying his shoes too.
"The Genius" is also 2-0 under the Pinnacle FC banner. He earned a decision over Matthew Schaffer at Pinnacle FC 12, and then topped Fadi Shuman at Pinnacle FC 13 in March. His only loss so far is against former Ohio State wrestler T.J. Rigel.
3 - Walters is used to competing
For those around the Western Pennsylvania who pay attention to more than MMA, Walters' name should be familiar. He's been competing in grappling tournaments for years, dominating and taking home all kinds of medals and shiny belts. He made his MMA debut earlier this year just after his 18th birthday (before he graduated high school), and he already has 8 fights. His last fight, which was a second round submission where he moved up to the welterweight division, doesn't show up on his record for some odd reason. But I saw the fight with my own two eyes, so I know it happened.
Another thing to like about him is that he really doesn't seem to care who or where he fights. He's traveled to Ohio and Eastern Pennsylvania and faced the toughest fighters there, and he's more often than not come out on top.
2 - They both come to scrap
Both of these guys have fun styles to watch and both are willing to take on just about anybody, including each other (obviously). They both have a mindset that the pro ranks are where they'll be eventually, so a shiny amateur record just doesn't really matter. What does matter is facing the absolute toughest competition possible to prepare them for the next level. There are a lot of amateurs who could take their cues from these two.
1 - The breakdown
Both of these guys are extremely well-rounded for being so young, and you can see that they've both been groomed to make it to the highest levels of MMA at some point in their careers.
Walters obviously has a stout ground game, and he's shown that he's not afraid to win fights off of his back if he needs to. His first fight was finished with a triangle, and he's won five via submission (including one submission via strikes).
Where he needs improvement is his striking. He can be a little wild at times, and his punches tend to be a bit wide. With that being said, he's already shown a vast improvement in just a few fights. He dropped an opponent in his third fight with a big overhand right (video here), and he's definitely not afraid to trade.
Romero is nicknamed "The Genius" because he fights smart. He's also incredibly technical for his age and improves in leaps and bounds each time out. He stymied Fadi Shuman at Pinnacle FC 13 for almost the entire three round fight, using heavy top game and nice ground and pound to pick up the win. Check out the full video here.
If I had to pick something to critique in his game, I'd say that he fades a bit at the end of fights. He wasn't able to put Shuman away, and Fadi nearly came back and finished him late in the third round. He also has just one finish in five wins so there's some room to grow there.
This is a fight that will almost certainly hit the ground. The fighters both have advanced ground games, so the fight will likely be decided there.