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Lou Neglia to Dana White: Take these three, NOW!

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Article: MixedMartialArts.com

Lou Neglia to Dana White: Take these three, NOW!

A sold-out crowd witnessed a tremendous night of action at the Tropicana Showroom in Atlantic City, New Jersey for Ring of Combat 58. The crowd was so energetic at times, it was hard to hear the timekeeper at the end of rounds…and for good reason. The eleven bout card had fans on the edge of their seats with the back and forth action. Fight fans let it be known, you are guaranteed two things when you go to a ROC show, you’ll get your money’s worth and a look at the next generation of MMA.

With that being said, Dana White and the rest of the UFC brass should take notice of three current ROC National Champions.

“Every fight was great but take notice on Julio Arce, Sidney Outlaw, and Merab Dvalishvili,” said Neglia. “These three had strong title performances at ROC 58 with Arce being the first ever ROC champion in two different weight classes. Not only will they be in the UFC, but they will be successful. Dana and his matchmakers should definitely take notice of this group. Take these three now!”
Starting with no financial backing, Ring of Combat has grown into one of the top regional promotions gaining national and international attention. To this day, it is the longest running show in Atlantic City and continues to produce new talent.

Success isn’t easy in the fight business, but after 50 events you begin to develop a formula and an approach to each event with special attention to the fighters. As a former world champion, Lou has great respect for the fighters who compete for Ring of Combat. To him, they are pursuing their passion and that is one of the most important things you can do in life.

That doesn’t mean you’ll get an easy pass when you step in the cage for ROC. There are no easy fights. Lou firmly believes that tough fights make tough fighters and that is evident as the UFC has picked up fighters from ROC with 9-5 records as opposed to fighters who were 10-0. In some cases, ROC has produced super fights where both the winner and loser received a call from the UFC scouts. Two examples would be Chris Weidman vs Uriah Hall and Chris Wade vs Frankie Perez. All four are signed by the UFC with Weidman becoming the middleweight champion joining ROC alumni Matt Serra and Frankie Edgar who also became UFC champions.

MMA fighters, fans ready for N.Y.

When New York Governor Andrew Cuomo put pen to paper on April 16, 2016, it became a landmark day for the world of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). By signing the legislation, Cuomo made New York the 50th and final state to legalize the sport of MMA after years of debate. It was originally outlawed in New York in 1997 when the sport was in its infancy and many of today’s regulations did not exist.

Despite not having legal MMA for nearly 20 years, the New York-region, particularly Long Island, has developed into a hotbed of talent. Bellmore resident Lou Neglia’s Ring of Combat (ROC) has been used by more than 100 fighters as a springboard to the UFC, a number of whom have come from Long Island.

With 55 events under its belt dating back to 2002, and No. 56 set for Sept. 23, at the Tropicana Resort and Casino in Atlantic City, the Ring of Combat has become well-known among fighters as an avenue to future success. And that’s just fine with Neglia, a fighter at heart and three-time kickboxing champion who won a title at Madison Square Garden (MSG) in 1985 and knows all about the atmosphere of competing there. In fact, as much as MMA in New York could bring about future business, it’s the fight fan in Neglia that really shines through when discussing Cuomo’s signing.

“Fans have easy access [to New York City],” Neglia said. “And all the fighters are happy to [have a chance] to fight in New York in their hometown. MSG is one of the greatest arenas. I fought there 10 times.”

An expert matchmaker, Neglia’s keen eye for talent and fight styles has Sherdog.com calling his promotion the “American Idol” of MMA. It’s hard to argue with that assessment, considering the number of fighters that have fought under the UFC banner, many from Long Island. Baldwin’s Chris Weidman (13-1) has become perhaps the most notable ROC alumni after winning the welterweight title and defending it three times before losing last December. Of the more recent alumni signees is welterweight Randy Brown, who was personally congratulated by UFC President Dana White after a victory at the Ring of Combat 53 show last November and quickly inked by the sport’s biggest promotion.

“Fighters get more out of losing a close fight than winning an easy one,” Neglia said of his promotion’s tough matchups. “I get tremendous satisfaction [when fighters advance to the UFC]. That’s the point of the Ring of Combat — to find unknown and talented fighters and then watch them go on to the UFC.”

Among those currently making waves for Neglia’s promotion is Taj Abdul-Hakim, a 170-pounder who most recently improved his professional record to 3-0 with a stunning knockout of Gregy Styles at Ring of Combat 55, held June 3. “Everyone knows the reputation of the Ring of Combat,” Abdul-Hakim said. “Everyone knows this is the route to the UFC, so everyone’s coming from your neck. Everyone is tough. There’s no bums.”

Abdul-Hakim endured a leg infection leading up to his first professional win, a decision over Yazan Janeb at Ring of Combat 53, then had to cope with the death of his long-time judo coach during the training camp ahead of his second win by decision at the next event.

Last June, however, Abdul-Hakim turned plenty of heads, including Styles’. He unloaded a spinning backfist despite giving up several inches to his opponent at the 3:33 mark of the first round and earned his first pro win by knockout. A move normally reserved for the taller fighter because of arm length and reach, Abdul-Hakim connected as his opponent was trying to chase him down.

“I never thought I’d pull that move off on anyone, and I still don’t believe it,” Abdul-Hakim said. “I made him chase me and close the gap for me. When I saw my striking was better and defense [of his striking] was better, I was comfortable. I saw an opening and spun. When I connected [on his jaw], I finished turning around and he was on the floor. I saw nothing else and I heard nothing else.”

Gillespie excels in Ring of Combat

PETER FRUTKOFF/HERALD

PETER FRUTKOFF/HERALD

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.”

 

10 January Tussles Worth Watching by Sherdog.com

Julio Arce has drawn rave reviews in Ring of Combat. | Photo: Keith Mills/Sherdog.com Julio Arce has drawn rave reviews in Ring of Combat. | Photo: Keith Mills/Sherdog.com

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 ChampionshipBellator 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 WeidmanFrankie EdgarEdson Barboza and Jim Miller are among the UFC standouts who have passed through its doors. Perhaps Julio Arce will someday join their ranks.

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:

Jimmy Flick vs. Patrick Ybarra
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.

Sam Oropeza vs. Timothy Woods
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.

Chris Feist vs. Desmond Hill
Xtreme Knockout 24
Jan. 17 | Arlington, Texas


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.

Kelvin Tiller vs. Marcus Sursa
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 BelcherStefan StruveEliot MarshallJosh BryantTrevor PrangleyEddie Sanchezand Logan Clark.

Sean Santella vs. Matt Rizzo
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.

 

Caol Uno vs. Yoshifumi Nakamura
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 EdwardsIvan MenjivarMitsuhiro 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.

Chuck O'Neil vs. Emmanuel Walo
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.

Jozette Cotton vs. Kilistina Makihele
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.

Zoumana Cisse vs. Malik Merad
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

Considered the America Idol of MMA, Ring Of Combat…..Past, Present and its Future

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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's Ring of Combat 47 Crowns New Champions

LouWade

From MixedMartialArts.com:

 

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