Thursday, March 26, 2009
Mention women's MMA to anyone and they'll immediately think of Gina Carano, then salivate over Carano's inevitable superfight against Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos. Sadly, though widely considered the best in the world at 135 pounds (Carano fights at 180 pounds), Tara LaRosa's been in the game longer and accomplished more, yet commands only a fraction of the attention. What LaRosa needs is a superfight. Sure, she's headlining this weekend's Extreme Challenge: "Mayhem at the Marina", but it's a foregone conclusion that she'll put Sally Krumdiak away with a submission before time runs out. LaRosa should be facing the best, facing someone who'll make for a "Oh wow!" kind of match-up. That person might actually be located right here in the Northeast. Her name is Vanessa Porto. A Brazilian and member of Gold Team Fighters (which is based in Newark, New Jersey), Porto has wins over Hitomi Akano and Tonya Evinger, and she's got aggressiveness and experience against top-level fighters - two things that could make for a competitive and compelling fight against the Fight Factory femme. Think Carano vs. Cyborg will be exciting? LaRosa vs. Porto could put you into cardiac arrest. This is a superfight worthy of the best 135-pound female fighter in the world.
Dissect any fight team and lay out the parts and you'll see it's akin to a family, with the trainers as parents and the fighters of varying experience levels the siblings. The Northeast's Team Serra/Longo - helmed by jiu-jitsu magicians Matt and Nick Serra and striking guru Ray Longo - is no exception, and it's not hard to discern that veterans Pete Sell, Luke Cummo and James Gabert are the "older brothers". But who are the younger brothers? MMA Journalist has picked out four notable up-and-comers from this New York-based group. Keep an eye out for them, as they comprise Team Serra/Longo, version 2.0.
- Constantinos Phillippou, light-heavyweight/middleweight - Take Luke Cummo, shave his head and add a ton more muscle. That's "Costas", who's proven to be a deadly striker and very capable grappler in the 11 or so months he's been fighting. His only loss was a close split decision to Ring of Combat star Ricardo Romero, and at ROC 24 he'll be taking on UFC vet Sean Salmon.
- Al Iaquinta, lightweight - Solid wrestling mixed with submissions, plus a ton of experience as an undefeated amateur - that's the best way to describe Iaquinta, who made his pro debut at ROC 23 and dominated before nailing the Anaconda choke for the tap out. He's fighting again at ROC 24, in a rematch against Will Martinez (who Iaquinta defeated via decision at an amateur show in Delaware).
- Chris Weidman, middleweight - He's only fought once, but he looked pretty damn impressive. At ROC 23, Weidman steamrolled over Rubens Lopes, tossing the Brazilian to the ground and submitting him with a kimura in a minute and a half. This Serra/Longo rep will be taking on Mike Stewart at ROC 24.
- Anthony Abatelli, welterweight - An experienced amateur (although not nearly as experienced as Iaquinta), Abatelli is a wrestler and ground-and-pounder, and in his first pro fight he took out the veteran Garrett Carmody via decision.