Thursday, September 10, 2009
Jay Silva, a veteran of New Jersey's amateur MMA circuit before turning pro, will become the first person with that fighting pedigree to make it into the UFC when he takes on CB Dollaway at UFN 19. But with the wealth of talented alumni who've followed that same path - fighters who are currently racking up wins while honing themselves to a keen edge - Silva definitely won't be the last. Who are some of the other Garden State amateur MMA graduates currently in the "big show" pipeline? MMA Journalist has compiled a short list!
- Jeff Lentz - Rhino Fight Team's Lentz had nine amateur fights before turning pro, and has since gotten wins against some of the toughest lightweights and featherweights around. This guy can strike and dodge submissions with the best of them, but his greatest weapon is his ability to survive pretty much anything opponents throw at him and give it back tenfold.
- Al Iaquinta - A lightweight wrestler with polished kickboxing skills, Team Serra/Longo's Iaquinta went undefeated in a dozen amateur bouts before turning pro and wrecking things there. He can do it all - nail submissions, score knockouts or go the distance - and he does it with the kind of violence that causes most foes to wither.
- Nick Pace - Before he went pro, TSMMA scrapper Pace had an unblemished amateur record of 6-0, snagging subs at New Breed Fighters events like they were "no thang". But his brightest moment thus far has been his flying-knee knockout win at Bellator, which made the rounds on YouTube and proved to the world that this bantamweight's game was as well-rounded as it was deadly.
- Andrew Main - He was 1-1 as an amateur, but in two bouts since turning pro this AMA Fight Club lightweight has snagged a 33-second armbar and engaged in an epic slugfest that ended when he knocked his opponent out at the bell. Main has shown a ton of talent and promise, and he's proven to be a huge crowd-pleaser.
- Jimmie Rivera - TSMMA's Rivera was 7-0 as an amateur before making the jump to fighting for pay, and despite a close split decision loss at ROC 22, has remained an impressive and capable dude in the cage. His last two bouts saw him score wins in Bellator, and if he keeps on doing what he's doing, he should be on the big stage in no time.