Gillespie excels in Ring of Combat
Wantagh 5-0 in pro fights
By: Steve Siniski / Five Towns Herald
Bellmore resident Lou Neglia once made a name for himself inside the ring as a three-time world kickboxing champion, but it’s his tireless work outside of it these days that truly turns heads in the fight game.
Neglia’s Ring of Combat promotion—which will have its 52nd show hosted by the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City, NJ, on Sept. 25—has elevated the careers of fighters from across the world as they strive to make the leap to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and other shows. In fact to date, 92 Ring of Combat fighters have been signed to the UFC, including current middleweight champion Chris Weidman, a Baldwin High School alumni, and Wantagh’s Al Iaquinta, who’s currently climbing up the lightweight rankings.
“The main focus has always, always been showcasing new talent,” Neglia said. “The vision was to do a show that was competitive. The Ring of Combat makes tough fights and tough fights make great fighters.”
Among the fighters currently making waves under the Ring of Combat banner is one of its newest champions, Wantagh’s Gregor Gillespie. A perfect 5-0 as a professional, Gillespie carries around the Ring of Combat’s lightweight title after defeating George Sheppard via first-round submission (arm-triangle choke) in 3:45 on June 5.
“I don’t want to go a full fight,” Gillespie explained. “I want to finish fights. I thought the last two fights went too long. The longer you’re out there, there’s more of a chance to get hurt or for the other guy to catch you.”
The starts have been fast and the finishes furious for all of Gillespie’s opponents, as all five fights have ended in the first round and none have lasted longer than his title victory. His quick finishes have come from not only submissions (three) but also from a punishing ground-and-pound attack set up by a wrestling game that easily ranks among the best in all of mixed martial arts. “If you’re one of the best wrestlers, or even a better wrestler [than your opponent] you can dictate where the fight is,” Gillespie said.
A two-time New York State wrestling champion in high school, Gillespie was even better at Edinboro University, racking up All-American honors four times, including a Division I national championship in 2007 to go along with a 152-13 career record.
“Gregor for the most part uses wrestling to get his takedowns,” his striking trainer, Keith Trimble of the Bellmore Kickboxing Academy, said. “From there, Gregor on top of anyone is a nightmare.”
“He’s smart enough to know not to rely only on his main fighting ability, wrestling,” Neglia said, noting how the sport continues to evolve.
For Gillespie, the evolution from wrestler to mixed martial artist includes continuous training not only on his strength, but the disciplines of jiu-jitsu and striking, must-have elements of any fighter today. “Jiu-jitsu was an easy transition,” Gillespie said. “I am confident on my back. Striking has been the most difficult to pick up and not as easy a transition because it’s not the same movement.”
But make no mistake, just because Gillespie continues to develop in those areas, he isn’t afraid to use them once the cage door closes. “The fight starts on your feet,” Trimble said. “And striking opens your wrestling game up. [With Gregor’s striking] you never know where he’s coming from.”
Trimble’s Bellmore Kickboxing Academy, which has been around for 18 years, is hardly utilized solely by fighters in the midst of training, but the list of those under his tutelage is certainly impressive. Former Freeport High School standout Andre Harrison, who once went 7-0 in the Ring of Combat and held the featherweight title, captured the Titan FC’s 145-pound belt on July 18 and is a training partner of Gillespie. Trimble’s tight knit training group also includes current UFC fighters—and former Ring of Combat fighters—Gian Villante and Ryan LaFlare.
“Lou [Neglia] always puts on great shows and competitive shows,” Trimble said. “You’re not going to see a fighter that’s 6-0 or 7-0 fighting someone that’s 1-9. He puts on quality, competitive fights. In the Ring of Combat, the proof is in the pudding. That’s why they’re sending so many guys to the UFC, Bellator and other shows.”
In an effort to bring more attention to the global stage of mixed martial arts, this list does not focus on major North American-based promotions such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Bellator MMAand the World Series of Fighting …
The New Jersey-based Ring of Combat organization has long been lauded as one of the premier regional staging grounds for blue-chip talent. Chris Weidman, Frankie Edgar, Edson Barboza and Jim Miller are among the UFC standouts who have passed through its doors. Perhaps Julio Arce will someday join their ranks.
A Team Tiger Schulmann representative, Arce will put his unbeaten professional record and bantamweight championship on the line against Thomas Vasquez at Ring of Combat 50 on Jan. 23 at the Tropicana Resort and Casino in Atlantic City, N.J. The 25-year-old has appeared in four of the last five Ring of Combat events, entrenching himself as one of the top 135-pound prospects in North America.
Striking forms the foundation for Arce’s skill set. A former New York Golden Gloves champion, he also has experience as a professional boxer and muay Thai fighter. Arce went undefeated as an amateur mixed martial artist — a victory over “The Ultimate Fighter” alum Anthony Gutierrez included — before turning pro in 2012 and rattling off six consecutive wins. The 25-year-old last appeared at Ring of Combat 49 in September, when he needed just 2:20 to submit Jake Grigson with a rear-naked choke.
Vasquez will enter the cage on the heels of back-to-back decision losses to Marcos Galvao and Mike Hernandez under the Bellator MMA banner. The 28-year-old sports four finishes among his six victories.
The Arce-Vasquez clash is but one under-the-radar matchup worth monitoring during the month of January. Here are nine more:
Rocks Xtreme Combat 11
Jan. 10 | Corpus Christi, Texas
The promising Flick has fought just once in the past two years. The 24-year-old flyweight returned from a lengthy layoff in December, scoring a 46-second submission on Sean O’Grady at a Rage on the River show in Tulsa, Okla. It was Flick’s first appearance since a failed bid for Legacy Fighting Championship gold in 2012, when he succumbed to a second-round knee strike and subsequent punches from UFC veteran Will Campuzano. He had won his first six fights, four of them by submission. The once-beaten Ybarra suffered his only career defeat in May 2013, when he was cut down by a Damacio Page punch.
Global Proving Ground “Fighters Against Dog Fighting”
Jan. 17 | Pennsauken, N.J.
Oropeza made headlines on Jan. 8, when he revealed that he had requested and had been granted his release from Bellator in hopes of drawing the attention of the UFC. The 29-year-old Philadelphia Fight Factory middleweight has finished seven consecutive opponents, six of them inside one round, and has never gone the distance in 14 professional appearances. Oropeza last fought at Bellator 130 in October, when he put away Gary Tapusoa with first-round punches. Woods has alternated between victory and defeat in each of his past six outings.
Xtreme Knockout 24
Jan. 17 | Arlington, Texas
A Team Takedown stablemate of former UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks, Feist will look to rebound from his first career setback in his return to the Xtreme Knockout promotion. The 30-year-old Texas-based Idaho native has not competed since dropping a unanimous verdict to Carlos Diego Ferreira inside the Legacy Fighting Championship organization in 2013. Less than a year later, Ferreira was in the UFC. Feist was a state wrestling champion in high school, where he teamed with Jake Rosholt, and went on to wrestler collegiately at Portland State University. He has secured five of his eight wins by submission. Hill, 32, has rattled off four wins in his last five fights.
Shamrock Fighting Championships “Shock”
Jan. 17 | Kansas City, Mo.
Once-defeated Bellator and World Series of Fighting vet Tiller will lock horns with Sursa for the Shamrock Fighting Championships light heavyweight title. The 24-year-old Tiller christened his career with six straight wins, five of them via stoppage, before he ran into Elvis Mutapcic at WSOF 12 in August. There, he dropped a three-round unanimous decision to the former Maximum Fighting Championship titleholder. The well-traveled Sursa, 32, will carry a three-fight winning streak into the match. Seven of his eight losses have come against fighters who have appeared at least once in the UFC: Alan Belcher, Stefan Struve, Eliot Marshall, Josh Bryant, Trevor Prangley, Eddie Sanchezand Logan Clark.
Ring of Combat 50
Jan. 23 | Atlantic City, N.J.
A former Cage Fury Fighting Championships titleholder, Santella returns to the Ring of Combat promotion for the first time in nearly four years. The 30-year-old Ricardo Almeida disciple has not fought since April, when he surrendered his CFFC crown in a unanimous decision loss to Nick Honstein; the setback halted Santella’s run of five wins in a row. In Rizzo, he faces a defending Ring of Combat flyweight champion. “Razor Sharp” Rizzo, 28, has won four of his past five bouts, having avenged his only defeat in that stretch in September, when he submitted Jimmy Grant with a first-round rear-naked choke.
Shooto 1st Round 2015
Jan. 25 | Tokyo
The soon-to-be 40-year-old Uno keeps plugging away in his native Japan. On a six-fight tear, he will challenge Nakamura for the vacant Shooto Pacific Rim lightweight championship in an attempt to further what has become something of a career renaissance. Uno last appeared at Vale Tudo Japan 6 in October, when he submitted Raja Shippen with a rear-naked choke at Ota City General Gymnasium in Tokyo. Having debuted all the way back in 1996, the 39-year-old Uno holds victories over Rumina Sato (twice), Din Thomas (twice), Yves Edwards, Ivan Menjivar, Mitsuhiro Ishida and Dennis Hallman. Mach Dojo’s Nakamura will enter the bout with plenty of his own momentum. The 26-year-old is 7-1 over his past eight appearances.
CES MMA 27
Jan. 30 | Lincoln, R.I.
O’Neil appears to have found his niche in the CES MMA organization. The 29-year-old “Ultimate Fighter 13” graduate will defend his welterweight championship against Walo in the CES MMA 27 headliner. O’Neil has pieced together a three-fight winning streak since suffering a technical knockout loss to Gil de Freitas in 2013. He last appeared in October, when he submitted fellow UFC veteran Ricardo Funch with a second-round armbar. Walo — who got his start in MMA by joining an Army Combatives class after watching old Ultimate Fighting Championship DVDs to pass the time while he was serving in Iraq — is unbeaten (7-0-1) over his last eight outings.
Dynasty Combat Sports 13
Jan. 30 | Omaha, Neb.
Cotton made her first Bellator appearance in October and promptly spoiled the mixed martial arts debut of Canadian boxer Holly Lawson, claiming a unanimous decision on the Bellator 129 undercard. The 26-year-old Nebraskan now returns to the place where she got her start, as she puts her unbeaten record on the line against Makihele inside the Dynasty Combat Sports promotion. Cotton has finished three of her first five foes with strikes. The Utah-based Makihele has touched off her career with back-to-back first-round stoppages. Neither of her opponents lasted two minutes.
100% Fight 24
Jan. 31 | Paris
Cisse became the latest victim of fast-rising Russian prospect Denis Goltsov in December, when he tapped to a first-round armbar in a Tech-Krep Fighting Championship co-main event. That loss notwithstanding, the once-beaten Frenchman remains a person of intrigue in the 205-pound division, with eight-, 21-, 26- and 67-second finishes on his resume. Merad, meanwhile, saw his career-best six-fight winning streak grind to a halt in October, when he bowed to second-round elbows from former Pride Fighting Championships wrecking ball Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou at Bellator 127.
Considered the America Idol of MMA, Ring Of Combat…..Past, Present and its Future
An historic milestone for any promotion is to put on its fiftieth event and that is the case for Lou Neglia as he brings Ring of Combat 50 to east coast fight fans January 23 at the Tropicana Casino & Resort. The fight card is stacked from top to bottom and will feature the best MMA prospects from all over and also includes six title bouts.
Ring of Combat is one of the longest running and most successful shows in the the country and for good reason. The east coast promotion has sent more fighters to the UFC than any other promotion. To date, over 90 ROC alumni have gone to compete in the UFC. Not only have they sent the most to the biggest promotion but all Ring of Combat alumni who compete against the world’s elite are having successful careers.
The latest ROC alumni who are actively competing in the UFC are current middleweight champion, Chris Weidman, along with Al Iquinta, Ryan LaFlare, Eddie Gordon, Costas Philippou, Edson Barboza, Uriah Hall and most recent, Chris Wade.
As a former world kickboxing champion, Lou knows what it takes to help build fighters. “The recipe is very simple,” said Lou. “Competitive fights challenge you. If you’re not challenged, you won’t change. You get more out of losing competitive fights by improving your game. You gain nothing winning a hand picked opponent for an easy fight,” he continued.
Lou recalls when UFC came calling for a ROC alumni, “the UFC has taken a fighter that was 8 wins with 4 losses as opposed to a fighter who was undefeated at 10-0 in another promotion. The matchmakers at UFC know just as well as I do that it’s who you fought and how you fought that matters,’ said Lou. “I look at these matches as fan myself. I put two solid fighters together that not only fans want to see in action but fights that I would like to see,” he continued.
Lou’s matchmaking skills are so solid that the UFC has announced a fight between not only two ROC alumni but two ROC alumni that already fought each other; Uriah Hall and Costas Philippou. The first bout between Hall and Philippou took place at Ring of Combat 34 when Philippou took home a majority decision. Their long awaited rematch is set to take place as a featured bout for UFC Fight Night on January 18, 2015.
“When I first heard that the UFC is putting on Hall vs Philippou, I was very proud,” exclaimed Lou. “These guys are true champions and gave their all at Ring of Combat. The have both come so far since then and I know they are going to put on a good show for the UFC,” he continued.
With Lou’s matchmaking skills and top pedigree of fighters, many wonder why he hasn’t made the jump to go head to head with the UFC but for Lou, that is an easy answer. “Not to long ago, I was approached by three very successful businessmen,” said Lou. “They asked me if I wanted to join forces with them in the world of MMA and their goal was to compete with the UFC and eventually become bigger than them. I thanked them for their time but declined. I am very content with what I am doing and have no desire to compete with the UFC,” continued Lou. “They have an all star team with Dana, Lorenzo, Marc Ratner, Joe Silva and are doing great things in the world of combat sports. I enjoy finding great but unknown talent and developing them for the world’s biggest stage and I am happy with the place Ring of Combat has in MMA history, being the american idol of the sport,” said Lou.
With that being said, Lou is hard at work developing the next generation of superstars and he believes many of them competing at Ring of Combat 50. “Our next event is a very special one for Ring of Combat,” said Lou. “Not many promotions have made it to their 50th event and many have not produced the superstars that Ring of Combat has. I am very proud of all Ring of Combat alumni but also very proud of the new generation of ROC fighters who by accepting tough fights in the Ring of Combat, is also preparing them for the road that leads to the Octagon and Im confident the new generation of ROC alumni will join the others and become stars of the sport,” he continued.
Lou Neglia with UFC Champions
Frankie Edgar, Matt Serra and Chris Weidman
Lou Neglia's Ring of Combat 47 Crowns New Champions
While Bellator holds the #2 spot in MMA, and WSoF is surging, history indicates that – so far – the only way to make a small fortune competing with the UFC is to start with a large one. So far, every company that ever went head to head with the UFC gets bought or gets bankrupt.
WFA – bought
Pride – bought
WEC – bought
ProElite XC – bankrupt
IFL – bankrupt
Affliction – bankrupt
Strikeforce – bought
On the other hand, there are some remarkably successful shows that don't aspire to the potential fabulous riches of PPV, and instead seek to give regional fans everything they want, and send their best up fighters up to the UFC on the regular basis.
At the head of that class is Lou Negia's Ring of Combat, which is the American Idol for future MMA stars. Ring of Combat 47 sold out the Tropicana Casino last Friday
“I am always proud for the support we get receive from the fight fans and the community, said Lou Neglia, Ring of Combat president. “A lot of hard work goes into each and every Ring of Combat show and when you receive that kind of support from the fans, you just can’t say 'thank you' enough."
Ring of Combat continues to stand behind its successful formula of keeping it simple and giving the fight fans what they pay to see….great, evenly matched, fights from tomorrow's superstars.
This formula was again in play for ROC 47 as five fighters have earned the right to wear ROC gold in competitive and entertaining matchups. All titles were vacated by ROC alumni who now compete in the UFC such as current UFC Middleweight champion Chris Weidman and undefeated prospect, Ryan LaFlare to name only a couple.
Lou Neglia feels this group of newly crowned champions will also go on to compete in the UFC just like their predecessors. “This group of new Ring of Combat champions is a very talented group of fighters,” affirms Lou. “I have no doubt that they will be getting the call to compete in the UFC and just to make it to the big stage alone makes the ROC team and myself very proud."
At ROC 47, Lou Neglia was joined by good friends and also former Ring of Combat alumni Chris Weidman, Frankie Edgar, and Matt Serra. All three are regular attendees at Ring of Combat events as they always support the fighters and the organization where they came from.
Ring of Combat is proud to announce their new champions:
Chris Wade • Lightweight Champion
Julio Arce • Bantamweight Champion
Elijah Harshbarger • Welterweight Champion
Keith Barish • Middlweight Champion
James Jenkins • Featherweight Champion
ROAD TO GLORY USA
HITS NEW YORK CITY WITH
ONE-NIGHT, EIGHT-MAN WELTERWEIGHT TOURNAMENT
WINNER OF DEVELOPMENT SERIES TOURNAMENT
RECEIVES $20,000 GRAND PRIZE, ONE-YEAR CONTRACT WITH WORLD’S NEW PREMIERE KICKBOXING LEAGUE
TICKETS ON SALE NOW
SINGAPORE (Feb. 19, 2013) – Glory Sports International (GSI), the parent company of the world’s new premiere kickboxing league, announced today that it will bring it’s ROAD TO GLORY USA development fight series designed to identify America’s next great kickboxing superstars, to Lou Neglia’s Combat at the Capitale in New York, NY on Friday, March 22.
The winner of the eight-man, single-elimination welterweight (170 pounds/77 kilograms) tournament featuring a host of prolific, up-and-coming competitors, will be awarded a $20,000 grand prize and a one-year contract with GLORY, home of the world’s elite kickboxing champions and superstars.
Tickets for the event are priced from $40 for standing admission and $55, $75, and $100 for seated admission, and can be purchased at the door or in advance by phone at 516-458-4989. The tournament is being held as part of a kickboxing fight card being promoted by former world champion Louis Neglia. “I’m very excited to see the top kickboxers compete and be featured in the new premier kickboxing league, as well as have a chance to be compensated monetarily for their talent, sacrifice, and hard work” says Lou, who is a top fight promoter.
“We are thrilled to bring our all-new ROAD TO GLORY development tournament series to fight fans in New York City, one of the world’s greatest sports and entertainment epicenters,” said GLORY CEO Andrew Whitaker.
“With the two ROAD TO GLORY tournaments we’ve held in the U.S. thus far,” continued Whitaker, “we’ve been able to discover tremendously bright and promising young kickboxers who could be developed to one day compete on GLORY’s championship stage, which is exactly what ROAD TO GLORY was created for. We are confident that we will continue to unearth all kinds of new talent across the country, beginning with the upcoming event in New York.”
Undefeated rising stars Ryan Parker (14-0, 3 KOs) of Rochester, N.Y. and Brett Hlavacek (6-0, 2 KOs) of New York will be joined in the tournament draw by KO artists Anthony Nieves (10-4, 8 KOs) of Atlanta, Ga. and Jeremy Carper (5-1, 5 KOs) of Martinsburg, W. Va., battle-tested star Tarek Rached (24-3, 11 KOs) of New York, road warrior Marcus Fisher (16-9, 3 KOs) of Pittsburg, Pa. and promising upstarts Eric Utsch (5-1, 1 KO) of Breinigsville, Pa. and Francois Ambang (6-2, 2 KOs) of Mechanicsville, Va.
Tae Kwon Do black belt and Muay Thai champion Cyrus Washington (52-21-1, 48 KOs) of Macallen, Texas will square off with Chris Clodfelter (7-3-1, 3 KOs) of King, N.C. in a tournament “reserve” bout on the card. Should any of the tournament’s quarterfinal round fight winners be unable to return to the ring for semifinal round action due to injury sustained en route to victory, the winner of the matchup between Washington and Clodfelter will take the injured fighter’s place in the tournament.
A draw to determine the ROAD TO GLORY USA welterweight tournament’s quarterfinal round matchups will take place on a date and at a location to be announced soon.
Doors at Capitale will open for the event at 7 p.m. EST and the first preliminary bout begins at 8 p.m.
For more information, visit www.gloryworldseries.com.
GLORY World Series (www.gloryworldseries.com) is the world's new premier kickboxing league, producing live events across the globe and offering up to $2 million in prize money to the winners of one-night, 16-man ‘Grand Slam’ tournaments, which are open to only the best fighters in each of six different weight classes. The fight series also includes 8-man ‘Slam’ tournaments and events with traditional, single bouts.
With television deals spanning every continent, online live video streaming of all shows and the world's largest online martial arts library, GLORY is one of the world's most widely distributed sporting organizations.
Owned and operated by Glory Sports International (GSI), the organization has offices in the UK, Holland, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and soon in the USA. Its personnel include an unprecedented mix of accomplished entrepreneurs and senior level executives from the diverse worlds of finance, sports marketing, television and martial arts fighting.
In 2013, GLORY launched the ROAD TO GLORY tournament fight series to identify and develop new kickboxing talent in The United States, Japan and elsewhere around the globe into future champions and superstars of the sport.
Mike Afromowitz – email@example.com
Latest ROC Fighter Turned UFC Star: Costa Philippou
Lou Neglia's Ring of Combat is one of the longest running and most successful MMA promotions in the country. More than 80 ROC fighters have moved on to the UFC and other top promotions, including former UFC champions Frankie Edgar and Matt Serra. Recently, two more former ROC fighters have been making headlines in the UFC. UFC title contenders Chris Weidman and Costa Philippou, both of whom fought solely at the Ring of Combat before signing with the UFC, are both on five fight win streaks in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Philippou, who fought nine times at the Ring of Combat before getting the call from the UFC, recently destroyed highly ranked Tim Boetsch at UFC 155. Costa's dominance over Boetsch was a surprise to many fans, but not to Lou Neglia. Lou, a former world champion kick boxer, does his own matchmaking at the Ring of Combat, and he saw Costa's potential early on. Lou's tough matchmaking has benefitted Costa, who has shown himself to be well prepared for the UFC.
There are no easy fights at the ROC, which is one reason why so many ROC fighters move on to the "big show." If you have what it takes to succeed at the Ring of Combat, you are prepared for the UFC. And there is also the name recognition that fighters develop when fighting at the ROC. Lou puts on four or five shows a year, and ROC fighters get known by fight fans before they hit the big time. The UFC and other big promotions know well of the ROC's reputation, and it's clear that they look to the ROC for new talent.
As a former champion, Lou Neglia knows what it takes to succeed in combat sports. And he looks for those types of championship qualities in his own fighters. At the ROC, a fighter's won-lost record doesn't mean as much as his heart and passion for the sport. If a fighter shows talent and determination and loses at a ROC event, he is not in danger of being cut. The big shows would rather take a 7-3 fighter from the ROC than a 10-0 fighter from another organization, because they know that whoever fights at the ROC will have been in with very challenging opponents. Records can be deceiving, ands some promoters try to pad certain fighters' records by giving them easy fights and putting them in mismatches.
That does not happen at the Ring of Combat. Only genuine fighters fight there–not guys who want to impress people by saying they're fighters. If you're a "pretty boy" fighter who wants easy victories, the ROC is not for you. And the UFC knows that.
The latest Ring of Combat, number 43, is coming up on January 25, 2013, and as always, it will feature world-class MMA talent. At the top of the card is undefeated Ryan LaFlare. Ryan has fought six times at the ROC, finishing all his opponents, four of them in the first round.
Also on the card is Deividas Taurosevicius, a fierce competitor who has fought for promotions such as Bellator and the WEC, and who is coming off an exciting come from behind arm bar submission at Ring of Combat 42 back in September. Deividas displayed great courage and determination in that fight and he lived up to Lou's credo that "It's not how hard you get hit, it's how fast you get up."
Deividas and Ryan are the kind of fighters that Lou likes. Lou is a promoter and matchmaker, but he's also a fan. And he makes the kinds of fights that fans want to see. "Tough fights make great fighters," Lou says, and the proof is in the ROC and in UFC.
Like American Idol, the Ring of Combat develops talent and showcases rising stars before they get to the big time. Talented fighters get to showcase their skills to a wider audience, including the UFC's and other big shows' talent scouts, while developing their skills against top opposition. And like American Idol, stars are born in the Ring of Combat cage. Some even go on to be UFC champions. Will Weidman and Costa be next? It's a good bet that one of both of these fighters will reach the highest levels in the UFC.
Who will be the next MMA superstar? Find out on January 25 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, at Ring of Combat 43.
Kick Force is a Japanese cartoon animation starring former world kickboxing champion Lou Neglia. Let the adventure begin!
Lou Neglia: Proud of His Ring of Combat Alumni
Lou Neglia is a former world kickboxing champion, and president of Ring of Combat, one of the longest running MMA promotions outside of the UFC. Of course, Lou takes great pride in his world championship, but he takes just as much pride in turning young fighters into UFC veterans and champions. Eighty mixed martial artists who got their start at the Ring of Combat have moved onto the UFC and had highly successful careers, a feat that is perhaps unmatched in MMA history.
Three examples out of the eighty fighters who have moved on to the UFC are Matt Serra, Costa Philippou and Chris Weidman. These three warriors all fought for Lou Neglia exclusively before moving up to the UFC. Matt Serra, who used to fight at Lou's Vengeance at the Vanderbilt show, went on to become a UFC champion. Costa Philippou is currently riding a four fight win streak in the UFC, and quickly moving up the ranks. And Chris Weidman is getting off to an amazing start with the UFC. Undefeated in his MMA career, he is 4-0 at the ROC and 5-0 in the UFC, and is coming off a dominating win over highly ranked Mark Munoz. Neglia feels that the sky is the limit for Weidman, and expects Chris to win the UFC middleweight championship in the near future.
"Weidman has the mental toughness to be a champion," Lou says. "He has confidence in himself and never worries about the other guy. When he gets hit, he grits his teeth and fires back. Other guys fold, but not Chris Weidman. He has all the tools. He's championship quality."
Lou then goes on to address Anderson Silva, the legendary UFC middleweight champion: "Chris Weidman is coming for you, and he will take you down and that will be his avenue to his victory."
Yet another fighter who fought exclusively for Lou before moving up into a Zuffa-owned promotion is Strikeforce star Gian Villante. Villante is on a three fight win streak at Strikeforce, and Lou expects big things from him. These are just four examples out of a total of eighty who have gone on to big things in their MMA careers.
As you can see, Lou is very proud of his fighters, and proud of the way that the Ring of Combat has prepared them for the UFC. For its part, the UFC is well aware of the quality of competition that the ROC offers, which is why so many ROC fighters now fight there. In this business, it's who you fight and how you fight rather than just your record that gets you into the big leagues. There are examples of the UFC declining 10-0 fighters who have fought in other organizations in favor of signing 7-3 fighters who have proven themselves in the ROC cage. Lou Neglia's philosophy is competitive fights make great fighters, not just when you get to the UFC, but at every step of the way. For fighters looking to pad their records, participate in mismatches or get easy fights, Lou will be the first to say that the Ring of Combat is definitely not the place to go. And his long list of successful alumni shows the wisdom of this way of thinking.
Another important part of the Ring of Combat's success–it sells out every show–is that Neglia doesn't try to compete with the UFC. He's more than happy with finding and developing talented fighters to the point where they can compete and succeed in the big show.
Several MMA promoters have approached Lou about merging their promotions in order to compete with the UFC. Lou always declines the offers. He sees through these offers, and knows that many promoters are driven by greed and jealousy of the UFC–which is why they wind up folding while the ROC continues to thrive.
Lou Neglia will continue to put on great shows and develop the MMA stars of tomorrow. It's his niche and something he loves doing. He always feels a special joy when ripping up a contract with a fighter because that fighter got a call from the UFC. As a former fighter and world champion himself, Neglia knows that the ultimate goal of any fighter is to achieve a world title. He's proud that his Ring of Combat is the ultimate stepping-stone to the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and will be for years to come.
MMA reporter Kristen Brown interviews Lou Neglia at his home.
by Jim Genia
If you view the Northeast as a microcosm of the MMA world, then Ring of Combat and promoter Lou Neglia are akin to the UFC and Dana White. You simply cannot be a homegrown aspiring pro fighter around these parts without harboring designs on making your mark in ROC (or the Cage Fury Fighting Championship, but that's for another post), and given that dozens and dozens of UFC veterans can credit ROC as the stepping stone that helped them reach the Octagon, well, that makes Neglia the man who laid those stones down to create that path.
It's not hard to find old pics of Neglia from his championship-kickboxer days, but most of us know him as a promoter. Ring of Combat, which began in 2002 and is now up to its thirty-eighth pro installment, is perhaps his greatest achievement in the realm of MMA; however, there are amateur MMA events in there, too, plus a long-running NYC-based kickboxing show called Combat at the Capitale and a seemingly endless number of one-off events (Battle on Broadway featured kickboxing and MMA bouts in a hotel ballroom in Times Square almost a decade ago, while there was a recent kickboxing extravaganza out in Brighton Beach). Before that, there were fourteen Vengeance at the Vanderbilt installments on Long Island, which saw the likes of Matt Serra and Pete Sell getting their MMA on… heck, the first sanctioned MMA bout in New Jersey took place on one of Neglia's show in Atlantic City. "Longevity" may be an abstract concept to some promoters, but to Neglia, that word is like a genetic sequence coded into his DNA.
It takes a very shrewd business men to survive for any length of time in this sport, but Neglia has managed to temper that necessary shrewdness with traits like kindness, compassion and a genuine friendliness. If you're a reporter, he'll accomodate you; if you're a promising young upstart, he'll make sure you're tested (remember: padded records don't get you into the UFC, hard fights do); and if you're a grizzled veteran, he'll find a spot for you on the next card.
There's a few reasons why ROC has thrived for so long. But without question, the biggest one is Neglia.
by Kevin Garvey
MMA has seen many new organizations try to go head to head with the UFC and fail. EliteXC, Affliction, Bodog and the IFL all tried to compete with the UFC, but soon realized why the UFC is the number 1 MMA organization in the world. It's nice to think big, but in MMA you have to be realistic. The UFC is number 1 for a reason. It has the best fighters on the planet and the best brand recognition. And when it comes to business, Dana White and the Ferttitta brothers take a no holds barred approach to beating the competition, which is why the UFC is still the undisputed champion of MMA promotions.
One organization, however, Lou Neglia's Ring of Combat, has managed to thrive where so many others have failed. The ROC is one of the longest running shows outside of the UFC, and the longest sanctioned promotion outside of the UFC. And there is good reason for this. Instead of trying to compete with the UFC, Lou Neglia sees his promotion as one where fighters can hone their skills to such a level that they can move on to the big show. Indeed, where other promoters try to lock up their fighters into contracts that forbid them from fighting in the UFC, Lou encourages his fighters to move upwards and onwards.
"The UFC deserves its place in history," Lou said. "They are the World Series of MMA. I have a great relationship with the UFC and even have their logo on one of my event posters. When a fighter tells me he has on offer from the UFC, I gladly rip up his contract."
As a former kickboxing world champion himself, Lou understands the ambitions of professional fighters, and has a keen insight into what it takes to be a high level professional athlete. He would never dream of trying to stifle their growth. Lou takes great pride in developing the talents of his fighters, to the extent that an astounding 44 fighters who have fought at the ROC have moved on to the UFC, including current UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar. Many more if you count those who have moved on to Bellator, the WEC and Strikeforce.
Not only is Neglia the CEO of Ring of Combat, he is the matchmaker too. And he's a tough matchmaker–there are no "gimme" fights at the ROC. In this way, Lou prepares fighters for the adversity they will face in the Octagon. He does his best to give fighters the kinds of tough fights they need to take the ultimate step in their MMA career.
"If you give people easy fights, what happens when they get to the UFC?" Lou said. "The best fighters are in the UFC and you need to be prepared."
This mindset is why so many of his fighters have gone on to have great success in the Octagon. Chris Weidman is the latest example of a fighter who fought his entire pro career at the Ring of Combat and is now undefeated in three fights in the Octagon. His tough fights at the ROC have prepared him for the tough fights in the UFC.
But the ROC is about more than just finding and developing new talent. The shows always feature "superfights" which include some of the sport's biggest names from all around the world. At ROC XVIII, for example, the card featured fighters from Brazil, Canada and even the Republic of Georgia, making it a true international event.
This is all part of Lou's strategy to make the Ring of Combat the biggest show not competing with the UFC. And his formula is working. He is providing fighters with an opportunity of a lifetime, as well as giving MMA fans what they want most: the best fights you can find outside of the UFC.
Aug 1, 2011: Muay Thaimes: The Story of 3X World Champ Lou Neglia
Ring of Combat XXXI: A Night to Remember
By Shawn Baran
What can I say about the Ring of Combat XXXI card that took place Saturday night from The Tropicana Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, NJ? Well, I will say that there is a reason that New Jersey produces some of the best MMA fighters out there today. One of the organizations that produce these fighters is Lou Neglia’s Ring of Combat. There have been 40+ fighters from ROC that have gone on to obtain UFC contracts. Saturday night proved exactly why that is.
From the preliminary card to the main card and the title fights, the action never let up. Neither did the crowd for that matter. There were several empty seats in the Grand Ballroom Saturday night, but it was not because people did show up. They just spent most of the night standing and cheering for their fighter. One thing about ROC events, they attract some of the die-hard fans of MMA and boy, are they passionate.
July 15, 2010
MMA Has Strong Local Flavor
by Steve Siniski
When Lou Neglia talks Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), people tend to listen — and for good reason. A former three-time world kickboxing champion in the 1980s who boasted a career record of 34-2, Neglia is now one of the preeminent MMA promoters in the United States.
His Ring of Combat promotion at the Tropicana Casino & Resort in Atlantic City has helped launch the careers of 39 MMA fighters to the sport’s top level, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), including East Meadow’s Matt Serra. So when Neglia throws out the name of someone he thinks is nearing the launching pad to be the 40th to advance from the Ring of Combat ranks to the UFC, it carries plenty of weight. The fighter in his sights is Ryan LaFlare, the Ring of Combat’s current welterweight champion who competes out of the Bellmore Kickboxing Academy.
“I believe Ryan [can] be the next Ring of Combat fighter to get to the UFC,” said Neglia, who resides in Bellmore. “He fights to win and doesn’t fight not to lose. [Ryan] fights from the beginning to the end of a round, has a great fighting spirit, the heart of a lion and is in great condition.
“He does his homework and has the stamina and work ethic required.”
LaFlare sports a sparkling 6-0 mark as a professional in Ring of Combat competition and successfully defended his title June 11 in Atlantic City with a second-round technical knockout of Mike Medrano. The referee stopped the bout at the 4:07 mark of the round due to strikes by LaFlare. He’s scheduled to put the belt on the line again Sept. 24, but in a show promoted by Neglia, no outcome is a given. “Styles make fights,” said Neglia, who schedules up to 16 bouts per show at the routinely sold-out Tropicana. “When I match up fights at shows, I don’t even know who’s going to win.”
LaFlare agrees with that assertion. “I think it’s the most competitive [organization] besides Strikeforce and the UFC,” he said.
A former wrestler, LaFlare’s first experiences with mixed martial arts helped quench his thirst for competition. Now, he’s trying to turn it into a full-fledged career. “I’ve wrestled my entire life,” he said. “I always liked the competition and used to watch. Then I got into submission wrestling and saw all of the jiu jitsu.”
As a professional, he trains twice a day, five times a week in a variety of fighting disciplines. Trained by Keith Tremble of Bellmore’s Kickboxing Academy, LaFlare also hones his wrestling skills with coach Kenny Willis and develops his jiu jitsu skills at D’Arce Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. “You have to be equally good in everything,” LaFlare said. “All the training at Bellmore Kickboxing has really put that all together for me.”
Judging by the results of his first six professional bouts, all wins, with two coming via knockout, two by technical knockout and two by armbar submissions, it’s clear LaFlare has developed into a well-rounded fighter. “There’s so many ways to win,” Neglia said. “That’s what makes it so exciting. If you get hit and don’t like what’s happening, you can take it down [to the mat]. Anything can happen at any time.”
As important as the physical aspect of MMA is, the mental aspect plays just as big, if not a bigger role in the development of a fighter’s career. As Neglia points out, being successful takes far more than just showing up in an arena on fight night with a mean mug and a big right hook. “That journey of two and a half to three months of gruesome training is the hard part,” he said. “The hard part is getting competition-ready. It’s a lot of sacrificing that a lot of people couldn’t handle.”
Decried by some as brutal, including New York lawmakers who continue to ban the sport in the state and refuse to approve sanctioning, MMA’s hopes for a reversal were recently dealt another blow when a proposed bill to allow professional bouts was struck down by the state assembly.
New York remains one of just six states that does not sanction MMA fights, but the long-running debate appears to be far from over. “The greatest fighters in MMA should fight in the greatest arena [Madison Square Garden],” said Neglia, who experienced that exact rush by winning the World Kickboxing title at MSG in 1983.
|June 28, 2008
With Ring of Combat, Lou Neglia shows MMA promoters how it should be done
November 30, 2007
MARK CUBAN’S HDNET FIGHTS & LOUIS NEGLIA’S RING OF COMBAT
JOIN FORCES TO BRING THE NORTHEAST’S LEADING MMA EVENT INTO MILLIONS OF HOUSEHOLDS
The Kicks-Off Event Will be Held at the Tropicana Casino in Atlantic City,
November 30, 2007
(Atlantic City, NJ) – November XX, 2007 – HDNet Fights, the newly launched Mixed Martial Arts League from Dallas Mavericks owner and Internet broadcasting pioneer Mark Cuban today announced an exciting new partnership with legendary World Champion Louis Neglia’s Ring of Combat, the northeast’s leading Mixed Martian Arts (MMA) event series.
The partnership will debut with the broadcast of HDNet Fights Presents: Ring of Combat. This first telecast on HDNet will be of Neglia’s Ring of Combat Beasts of the Northeast Tournament Finals on November 30, 2007 at the Tropicana Casino in Atlantic City, NJ. HDNet will air the event at a later date to be determined.
The mission of HDNet Fights is to grow the sport through its own events via the HDNet Fights brand and by bringing attention to the top regional MMA organizations, such as Ring of Combat, through its “HDNet Fights Presents” banner.
For over ten years, Louis Neglia has provided the most action-packed MMA events in the Northeast through his Ring of Combat tournaments. This partnership with HDNet Fights affirms Neglia’s ongoing commitment to bringing quality fighters from around the world together and producing the best events in the region and is now leading the charge in bringing high-definition quality MMA bouts to living rooms nationwide. Previous Ring of Combat events have been televised on the Madison Square Garden Cable Network, Telemundo, Sports Channel, ESPN2 and on iNDEMAND Pay-Per-View.
The main fight-card for the November 30th Tournament will feature bouts between MMA stars Gregor Gracie from Team Renzo Gracie vs. Eric Henry (from Team XXX), as well as Jim Miller (XXXX) vs. Chris Liguori (XXXXX), among many other action packed bouts.
“Mixed Martial Arts is becoming a truly revolutionary sport, surpassing almost every major sport in popularity among its target demographic,” stated World Champion and Ring of Combat promoter Louis Neglia, whose tireless efforts have developed a truly loyal and energetic fan base. “We are committed to producing some of the greatest MMA events and giving our fighters the respect and care they deserve.”
Louis Neglia is a three-time world kickboxing champion, and has performed in some of the largest arenas in the world. He was named “Fighter of the Year” and inducted into the Karate Hall of Fame, among other notable achievements. Louis Neglia Presents… has hosted sellout Mixed Martial Arts events at the Taj Mahal, Caesars Palace and the Tropicana in Atlantic City, the Marriott International, the Meadowlands, The Capitale in New York City and Madison Square Garden, to name a few.
HDNet produces more original sports, music, news, and entertainment programming than any other domestic network. HDNet Fights is HDNet’s new Mixed Martial Arts initiative showcasing cutting-edge competition and events for the ultimate MMA fan. “Inside MMA” on HDNet brings viewers inside the world of Mixed Martial Arts with expert coverage and in-depth interviews with todays top MMA fighters and trainers.
Launched in 2001 by Mark Cuban and General Manager Philip Garvin, the HDNet is available on AT&T, Bright House Networks, Charter Communications, DIRECTV, DISH Network, Insight, Mediacom, Time Warner Cable, Verizon and more than 40 NCTC cable affiliate companies. For more information, please visit www.hd.net, www.hdnetfights.com, or www.ringofcombat.com.
The EVILMASTER REPORT
LEGENDARY FIGHTER & PROMOTER LOUIS NEGLIA TO ANNOUNCE PPV SCHEDULE FOR THE RING OF COMBAT
World Champion Louis Neglia today announced the season premiere of Ring of Combat – Tournament of Champions championship Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) events. The first available pay-per-view broadcast of the event debuts on Friday, June 29, 2007, at 10:00 PM EDT with replays throughout the month of June and July and will cost a budget-minded $19.95.
Louis Neglia’s Ring of Combat has held many of the most action packed MMA events that the Northeast has seen and is moving up to the next level of competition and moving up to a new level of broadcast exposure.
"Mixed Martial Arts is becoming a truly revolutionary sport, surpassing almost every major sport in popularity among its target demographic group of 18-34 year old males,” said Louis Neglia, founder and promoter of Ring of Combat. “2007 will be the best year yet for the Ring of Combat tournament and our partnership with Pay Per View is breaking new ground for our fans and creating new exposure for our sport and broadcasting partners. Our PPV broadcasts will be available for a reasonable and affordable $19.95, giving fight fans and the hard working man and woman the opportunity to be inside the ring when the action starts.”
Recent Pay-Per-View (PPV) broadcasts of MMA events exceeded 700,000 buys in early 2006 and then closed out the year with the highest PPV buys ever with more than 1,000,000 for a single event. Louis Neglia’s Ring of Combat is sure to be a crowd pleaser, with finals scheduled for and April 27th respectively. The top fighters in each of three different weight divisions – Lightweight, Welterweight and Middleweight will vie to be the Champion in their respective divisions and for their share of more than $100,000 in prize money.
Louis Neglia’s Ring of Combat – Tournament of Champions Finals will be held live at the Tropicana Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, NJ on Friday, April 27, 2007 at 9:00pm EDT. Fighters from around the world will be competing for their share of a $100,000 purse. MMA finalists competing in the Tournament of Champions Finals include, Binky Jones of Maryland vs. Ian Loveland of Oregon; Todd War of Texas vs. Philippe Nova of New York and Marc Stevens of Delaware vs. Jason House of Texas.
“Having been a former world champion myself, I know how difficult the life of a fighter is and this is why I created Ring of Combat in 2000 into one of the only MMA events that truly rewards talented and undiscovered fighters with substantial compensation and TV exposure for their hard-fought efforts,” added Neglia. “With Ring of Combat, we are giving these up-and-coming fighters the support and compensation they deserve and bringing honor to the MMA world.”
About World Champion Louis Neglia Presents…Louis Neglia is a three-time world kickboxing champion, has performed in some of the largest arenas in the world and has starred in three martial arts films. He was named “Fighter of the Year” and inducted into the Karate Hall of Fame, among other notable achievements. Louis Neglia Presents has hosted sellout Mixed Martial Arts events at the Taj Mahal, Caesars Palace and the Tropicana in Atlantic City, the Marriott International, the Meadowlands, The Capitale in New York City and Madison Square Garden, to name a few. Louis Neglia Presents events have been televised on the Madison Square Garden Cable Network, Telemundo, Sports Channel, ESPN2 and on Pay Per View. Louis Neglia Presents Ring of Combat is one of the most action packed Mixed Martial Arts events that the Northeast has seen. For more information visit: www.louneglia.com.
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