Idaho fight fans may have become accustomed to hardware during the last few events at CenturyLink Arena. The last four FSF events have crowned champions, with Jesse Brock earning the Bantamweight belt at FSF12, Czar Skalvos named Flyweight Champion at FSF11, Vince Morales claiming the since-vacated Featherweight title at FSF10, and Dave Castillo winning the first-ever FSF championship at FSF9. There will be no ultimate prize on the line this Friday in Boise, but plenty of opportunity for some rising talents to make their mark.
“This fight card is a younger one. We have a lot more of the up-and-comers,” said FSF Matchmaker Todd Carlson.
There are still plenty of fighters that FSF fans know well, like Michael Garcia appearing in his sixth FSF event, and third as a professional, against Billy Carothers. But there will be others stepping into the cage hoping to make a strong first impression on not only Boise, but the MMA scene as a whole.
Abraham Campos will be locked in one of those bouts, looking for his first win in three tries at Front Street Fights against a fighter making his pro debut with big expectations in Elmar Umarov.
“The guy I’m most excited about is Elmar Umarov,” said Carlson. “He’s 7-0-0 as an amateur and has absolutely destroyed everyone that he has touched.”
Umarov has been convincing in his amateur career. He’s earned three of his wins in first-round fashion and four by submission, only once seeing a fight go the distance. As Carlson often says, it’s not only important what your record says. Moving up in the MMA ranks also depends on how you win.
“He’s a guy that we think has legitimate UFC potential,” said Carlson. “He’s a guy that we think fights two or three times pro and then he gets picked up.”
Of course, Carlson also likes to point out that there are no easy fights at FSF, and Umarov will face an experienced opponent in Campos as he looks to adjust on the fly to pro fighting.
“The difference between an amateur fighter and a pro fighter at this level is huge. Any time you make a pro debut and go from facing guys who are fighting and training part-time to fighting someone that trains full-time in a legit MMA gym, it’s a challenge.”
“Stylistically they both like to stand and bang and they’re both talented on the ground. It’s going to be a really good fight.”
In addition to several fighters earning a brighter spotlight than they have in the past, the Heavyweight class as a whole will have higher billing on Friday with the first Heavyweight Main Event since FSF6. It’s a fight where fans can expect to see both competitors swing for the fences.
Luis Cortez was in that Main Event, the last time an FSF main event has gone fewer than three rounds. In that fight, Cortez knocked out Colton Vaughn in 23 seconds.
“I think the interesting thing with heavyweights is that no matter how talented you are, they hit so darn hard that it just takes one shot to knock them over. It’s not like the smaller guys who can beat on each other for five rounds,” said Carlson.
“Even in UFC, you see really talented fighters at heavyweight that can get hit one time and the fight is over. You don’t see many heavyweights with perfect records because they all lose.”
Cortez’s opponent, Ben Beebe, does enter with a 7-2-0 record and five knockouts.
“Heavyweight fights rarely go the distance. Luis will swing hard, and Ben is the same way. They’re two guys who go into the cage with bad intentions.”