Crane out of Euphoria MFC;
Clementi to Face Matamoros
By Joe Hall
Rich Clementi will not be fighting Alberto Crane in the first round of the Euphoria MFC lightweight tournament. Crane, a BJJ black belt and undefeated fighter, is out due to a perforated eardrum, said Euphoria matchmaker Miguel Iturrate.
Clementi will instead face MMA veteran Henry Matamoros. An alternate bout for the lightweight tournament between Jay Ireland and Kurt Pelligrino has also been dropped from the card because both fighters are injured. Ireland broke a rib, and Pelligrino was hurt in a recent grappling match, said Iturrate.
FCF caught up with Clementi to get his thoughts on his new opponent and to handicap the other competitors in the eight-man tournament, the first round of which takes place on Oct. 15 in Atlantic City, New Jersey:
FCF: You’re now fighting Henry Matamoros. What’s your impression of him?
Rich Clementi: To be honest, I actually think he’s more of a game opponent than Crane is. He has tons of experience. He’s a little taller, which I kind of like fighting guys my height or shorter. He’s just tough. He’s been around the block like me. He’s going to be hungry, looking for his shot to put his name out there. To be honest, I’m actually more concerned about Henry Matamoros than I was about Alberto Crane. … Alberto Crane was this undefeated guy, you know. But I think Alberto Crane has a lot of hype around him, where I think Matamoros is more of a challenge, legitimate-type opponent.
FCF: How do you think the fight against Matamoros will play out?
RC: I picture him just trying to do anything crazy to try to take me to the ground. Jumping, flying, who knows. Hopefully I’ll be able to stuff that a little bit. When I was fighting Crane, I was like, I don’t mind staying in his guard because I don’t think he likes getting hit too much. But since I found out I was fighting Matamoros, I’ve been working on a lot of standup. That’s going to be the game plan. Whenever I’m on top of him, try to (throw) one or two shots, disengage, make him stand up. Let’s see where his cardio is at and let’s see how tough his chin is. He’s a tough guy as far as taking shots on the ground, but I’m really going to turn it on when we’re standing up.
FCF: Is it a good thing or a bad thing that Crane is out?
RC: I was really looking forward to kicking Crane’s ass. I had fought with him before over in Japan (on the same card) and kind of knew what he was about. In my mind, there was no way I pictured him beating me. Me, personally, just the way I fight, I see a lot of obstacles Matamoros throws up for me. … He’s kind of reckless in what he does, will go for things not really (worrying about) the consequences. I didn’t think Alberto Crane was as suave a NHB fighter as a Jiu-Jitsu fighter.
FCF: You’ve already fought three guys in the tournament: Sergei Golyaev, Yves Edwards and Naoyuki Kotani. Of those three, who is the most dangerous on their feet?
RC: On their feet, Golyaev for sure. They’re actually all dangerous in different ways. As far as winning, I think Yves is the hardest guy (to beat) because he’s kind of a counter puncher and waits. Kotani is very reckless. He’ll just go in there and trade punches with you. Golyaev just has very good technique plus power. They’re all pretty dangerous, but I would say, power-wise alone, it would definitely be the Russian. He definitely has power.
FCF: Golyaev is a fighter most fans haven’t seen. What was his standup game like?
RC: He had good reach and he was waiting for me. He was trying to counterpunch me and, with his reach, it was tough for me to get in anyway. That was the main thing. To be honest, I wasn’t really notified what kind of experience level of a standup guy he was…. All I heard was he was a pretty good Muay Thai guy. I think power-wise, he’s definitely the guy to look at. If many people think that they can just trade shots with him, I think they’ll get knocked out. I’ve only been floored by one other person–really floored–and that was when I fought Pete Spratt a long time ago. Out of my 30 pro fights, that’s saying quite a bit.
FCF: He showed very good striking skills against you but was vulnerable on the ground, which is where you beat him. Do you think his ground game will have improved any by the Oct. 15 show?
RC: No, I don’t think so. I really would have liked to have seen him matched against Yves first. I don’t think he has the ground work to get past the first round. I could be wrong, but that was just my interpretation of when I was fighting him. (I) put him on his back, and he just didn’t move very well. I didn’t feel his strength there. They should have made that matchup because even if he loses, that’s one hell of a fight that people could really anticipate.
FCF: Yves Edwards defeated you at UFC 41. What’s your impression of him?
RC: I think Yves has a good NHB formula right now. He plays it safe; he doesn’t get hurt very much. But he looks to capitalize off other people’s mistakes. Josh Thomson, right before his fight, he said it perfectly. You have to kind of not push Yves so hard because he waits for you to tire yourself out a little bit and then he looks to capitalize off that. Josh hit it on the head–that’s the same thing I was thinking–and then he goes in there and does exactly the opposite, really tries to push the fight and he gets caught. And then again, Yves wasn’t using a lot of energy, and I think Josh was starting to get tired a little bit.
FCF: Hermes Franca is another UFC veteran in the tournament. What’s your impression of him?
RC: I would actually like to fight Hermes. I think he’s a good matchup for me. My wrestling is pretty solid, and I think Hermes’ standup–you never know, he could really be improved since I saw him fight Yves–his standup doesn’t really impress me that much, and I think he’s kind of small. With those things, that’s a fight I definitely wouldn’t mind happening.
FCF: Joachim Hansen is known for beating Takanori Gomi. How do you match up with Hansen?
RC: He’s another guy I’d like to fight, just because of his current ranking with Shooto and a lot of other MMA Web sites and stuff. I think (we) fight very similar. Real strong guy, stands up and bangs a little bit. Has a decent Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling-type style to him. That’s one that I’d definitely like to fight.
FCF: Who should be the favorite to win the tournament?
RC: I think … Yves is definitely the one that everyone has to look at. Just because of who’s in the tournament and his record recently and the way he’s been fighting. I definitely think he’s the man that everybody’s shooting for. … I think everybody (in the tournament) is good in their own little way. You have a few guys like Phil Johns, who’s just such a phenomenal wrestler. And then, of course, you have a Jiu-Jitsu guy like Hermes Franca. Everybody else is pretty similar. I know Kotani fights a lot like I do. All the guys are tough.
FCF: Out of the eight fighters in the tournament, who do you match up best with?
RC: I’ll take any of those guys that I’ve beaten once already (Golyaev and Kotani). I don’t see any of those guys beating me. If I was to fight them, I definitely don’t see them beating me. Phil Johns, I’d like to fight. I actually think Hermes Franca is a really good fight for me. And then Golyaev or Kotani. I’d beat both of those guys, I think, 10 out of 10 times.
FCF: Who do you match up with worst?
RC: I really don’t know too much about Joachim (Hansen). I haven’t really seen his tapes yet. If we get matched up, I’ll watch that at a later time. He has a pretty solid record and a reputation. But I would say, probably Yves (is the toughest matchup) because we’re very similar. I would definitely have a different game plan (in a rematch). Yves is the man everyone’s going to be shooting for, I’m sure.