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Wednesday, May 08, 2002

Ufc Up-and-comer Profiles

UFC Up-and-Comer Profiles
By Jim Genia and Loretta Hunt

Ivan Salaverry
      Born in Toronto, the Washington-by-way-of New York-native fights out of the AMC Pankration school. With Matt Hume behind his grappling and striking skills, and UFC heavyweight champ Josh Barnett as one of his training partners, Salaverry is unquestionably well-rounded — and his 8-1 MMA record can attest to his abilities. A veteran of SuperBrawl, SHOOTO, and the International Fighting Challenge (IFC) and HOOKnSHOOT (where Salaverry is a champion), he can submit or knockout his opponents. Says Salaverry of his training: "I think the AMC format has basically made me well-rounded in striking and grappling."
      UFC 37 will be Salaverry’s debut, and his opponent will be the extremely dangerous Andrei Semenov. What does Salaverry know of him? "[He’s] a tough guy. I know he’ s got a boxing and judo background." The up-and comer is confident, though, and his gameplan is simple. "There’s so many variables, you gotta go in there well-rounded and fight with heart."
      A wrestler and jiu-jitsu exponent before he moved out to train at AMC Pankration, Salaverry has been training in combative sports for years. "The UFC," he responds, when asked what got him started in mixed martial arts. He adds: "The Gracies, of course."
      Says trainer Matt Hume of his newest middleweight entry, "Ivan’s a very strong ground fighter who’s been to Abu Dhabi, but has won both his [IFC & HOOKnSHOOT] championships with striking. He’s very well-rounded, well-conditioned, and he’ll be a big 185-pounder coming in."
      How did Salaverry learn of his break in the "big show"? "My agent, Miguel Iturrate, basically pushed me through ’cause I’m the HOOKnSHOOT champ and IFC middleweight champ. I got a call on the cellphone and Miguel said, ‘you ready?’ and I said, ‘ready for what?’ ‘The UFC.’ [Laughs] ‘Awesome!’"

Benji Radach
      A native of Castlerock, Washington, Radach is an accomplished state wrestling champ and former Alaskan fisherman. "I’ve wrestled since I was old enough to walk," says the welterweight fighter making his Octagon debut at UFC 37. "[I] wrestled all the way through school, through high school, and made the National team the last few years in a row." Sporting an amateur boxing record of 2-1, he has heavy hands to go with his takedowns and sprawls — and is not afraid to use them.
      Having trained under former UFC lightweight contender Dennis Hallman for the last year, Radach has earned a reputation as a nice, friendly guy outside the ring and an intense brawler inside it. On his affinity for MMA competition, he says: "It’s right up my alley. I love it."
      Originally slated to fight Brazilian black belt Joao Marcos Pierini, training injuries forced the Gladiator’s Academy fighter to withdraw from competition. UFC veteran Steve Berger has filled the void, leaving Radach only three weeks to train for the highly experienced welterweight. Does the adjustment faze Radach? "Actually, this fight with Steve has been one that Dennis has been trying to set-up for a quite a while, so I’m happy to see it finally happen. I know Steve’s real tough and is the type of guy that can come back in the third round and win fights." Will strategy change now that Radach will be clashing with the formidable Berger? "I definitely had to change my gameplan from fighting Joao," laments Radach. "With him, I was going to keep it on my feet and maybe catch him with something. [With Steve,] I’m going to have to go out there and feel it out. If I’m more comfortable on my feet with him, that’s where I’m going to keep it, just because it’s more exciting there. I want to put on a good show for my first shot in the UFC."
      Like most (if not all) competitors out there, Radach has had UFC aspirations for some time. His dreams suddenly came true on his recent birthday. "Dennis called me up. It was my birthday and I was celebrating, and he calls me up on the phone and says, ‘hey, I got a good birthday present for you.’ And he told me." The fisherman-turned-fighter laughs. "It was awesome, man. I was stoked. I really didn’t expect it to happen this soon. I figured another year or two of training and stuff, but I got the opportunity so I’m going to take it."

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posted by Full Contact Fighter @ 8:00 pm
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