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Wednesday, Jul 05, 2006

July 7th Ring Of Combat Show Postponed

July 7th Ring of Combat Show Postponed
By Jim Genia

Thanks to the New Jersey governor, the legislature, an impasse over the state budget and some ill-conceived political games, the July 7th Ring of Combat show at the Tropicana Casino in Atlantic City has been postponed until a later date.

To put pressure on the legislature, an executive order issued by Governor Corzine has for the past six days forced a shutdown for all non-essential governmental services — which included the lottery, state parks, the casinos (state inspectors have to oversee gambling activities), and even the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board. Earlier today an agreement was reached on the budget, but because of legal technicalities (an actual bill must be drafted by the legislature, voted on, then signed by the governor) it will take 24 to 36 hours before that executive order can be lifted. No NJSACB employees (i.e. – referees, judges, etc.) can work before then. Ultimately, that means there can be no show.

For the promoter Lou Neglia, who put together a fantastic card and even flew in a competitor from Japan to face Laura D’Auguste, and for all the fighters who trained hard in preparation, this is a tough blow to absorb. But Ring of Combat — which is considered to be one of the best MMA promotions in the Garden State, and which has served as a stepping stone for more than a few UFC fighters — will definitely be back.

Down in Weight and Up in Energy,
Stevenson Faces Lightweight Test

By Derek Callahan

Spending time at Tito Ortiz’s stacked Big Bear training camp, Joe Stevenson (25-6) is on top of his strategy for his fight this Saturday against Yves Edwards (31-10-1). "You have to be on top of Yves," he says. Surrounded for the past several weeks with wrestling studs like Ortiz and fellow Ultimate Fighter alumnus Matt Hamill, Stevenson plans on navigating the fight to where he thinks the advantage will be.

"My biggest strong point is probably jiu-jitsu," he says, coupling it with a pedigree in wrestling. While Stevenson’s gameplan is no secret to Edwards, the inverse is also true. "It’s easy to imagine what he’s gonna do," says Stevenson. In Edwards, the Ultimate Fighter 2 winner has a fighter who is good enough on the ground to not just survive, but work to his feet and create his own offensive. With his jiu-jitsu and wrestling, Stevenson brings the type of aggressive ground and pound that opens doors for submission.

"I think that’s a very good formula to fight Yves because he’s very good on the ground," he says. With the physical tools and skills coming in nearly even, Stevenson is focused on keeping his head on straight going into the bout. "I feel like I need to be prepared for war. My cardio, mental state need to be 100-percent," he says. In order for that to have happened, Stevenson had to overcome the initial effort to get on weight. Having fought the gamut from 155 to 170 pounds since he began his career at age 16, Stevenson upped his public recognition substantially by winning the welterweight side of TUF 2.

"When I fight I like to have fun, go 110-percent," he says. At 170-pounds, it was becoming tougher to keep both a furious pace and a reasonable weight. It culminated last April when Stevenson was upset by Josh Neer, losing a lackluster unanimous decision. "Any loss sucks but for the most part I blame myself. I went out there not in the right mind frame and performed accordingly," he says. "I just cruised a lot in that fight."

For Stevenson, where his weight stays is a hint at how hard he’s working. "I use it as a measuring stick," he says. At welterweight it didn’t take much to be on weight, so he made the decision to take it down a notch to 155 by putting in more effort at the gym. "It was a decision I wanted to do from the get-go," he says.

"At 170, it’s just really easy to cruise, you don’t have to put too much effort into it." Ironically down in weight and feeling more pumped up, Stevenson is looking forward to shaking off the loss to Neer. "Everything happens for a reason, maybe I just needed to get my butt in gear," he reasons. "I don’t have one regret with any decision I made."

Since his debut in 1999, Stevenson has made plenty of decisions. Having made his debut at such a young age, he’s seen the like of Jens Pulver, Chris Brennan and other UFC veterans that are now predecessors to the different generation of fighters that start to peak on TV.

"I think they stack up very well," he says about the newer crop of competition compared to the old guard. "The distinct advantage is I was able to grow." Big changes in a career make for fresh starts, and it certainly looks that way for Stevenson. He’s down a weight class and in the thick of a newly reintroduced, heavily talented group.

Chances to redeem a 7-year old loss to Jens Pulver and go for the reincarnation of the lightweight title are suddenly plausible opportunities, and Stevenson sees it all as good opportunities meeting the type of preparation that he’s constructed over his time in the sport. His most recent preparation has taken him to Big Bear where he, along with roommate Kendall Grove and a host of others, are getting ready for the future.

"Nothing but positive vibes, that’s extremely important mentally," says Stevenson on how Big Bear has helped him. "You have to feel good everyday. Not only the caliber of guys but their attitude levels." It’s attitude that has put him in a position to make his name in the UFC in the first place. No longer the kid who needs to grow, Stevenson must get through his first, formidable test as a lightweight.

"When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot," he says about his young start. Right now, he’s grown by dropping weight. Against Edwards, it’s the time to see how much he has grown, and where that will take him.

posted by Full Contact Fighter @ 8:00 pm
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