Atlantic City: the place to be if you’re keen on gambling, shopping at outlet stores, eating so-so food and heckling streetwalking prostitutes. And this weekend, it’s also the place to be for some hardcore MMA action. On Friday, Ring of Combat 34 returns to the Tropicana, bringing with it all its usual fanfare and luster, and on Saturday, the Cage Fury Fighting Championship rises like a phoenix from the ashes to set fire to the Resorts Casino & Hotel and send patrons fleeing into the night. That’s right, there’s an awful lot of fighting going on this weekend – and hopefully, there will be some questions answered. Questions such as:
- Can Aung La N Sang find success in the Northeast circuit? Sang teaches Muay Thai at the Crazy88 school in Maryland, but at ROC 33 he ran into one of the best strikers the Northeast has to offer in Costa Philippou and suffered an 11-second loss via TKO. At ROC 34 he’s facing Mitch Whitesel, who’s far less dangerous but possesses the kind of experience that’s always a threat. Will Sang get a chance to showcase his ability?
- Can Steve DeAngelis get back on the winning track? In his last outing, he was caught by Nick Pace (and Pace is now fighting in the UFC), and the time before that he got the blanket treatment from a much-bigger Jacob Kirwan. 2010 was a bad year for the Pellegrino MMA rep, but at ROC 34 he’s taking on submission specialist Dustin Pague in what could be the perfect opportunity to snag a “W” against a dangerous foe. Can DeAngelis do it?
- Will Mervin Rodriguez come out on top once more? In the span of three and a half years Rodriguez has amassed a mottled record, but upon closer inspection it’s clear he’s lost to only the best and toughest guys – like Al Iaquinta, Liam Kerrigan, Jeff Lentz, Andy Main, George Sheppard and Kenny Foster. However, at ROC 33 Rodriguez was a full-on Team Pellegrino fighter and he was large and in charge. Has his new team put him on the path to badass-ness? Will we see him victorious once more at ROC 34?
- Victor O’Donnell, what have you done for me lately? When O’Donnell first stepped into the cage at ROC 25 he was an underdog against heavy-hitting Team Renzo rep Rafael Sapo. But the Ohio native proved to have a granite chin and some dangerous fists of his own, and he came away with the win and Sapo’s ROC belt that night. Since then, O’Donnell lost a decision to Costa Philippou, went out on his shield at the TUF 11 season opener, and returned to the minor leagues to rattle of a few victories. But those fights were far away – what have you done for me lately, Victor O’Donnell? At CFFC on Saturday night, the big puncher and game-as-hell fighter is headlining against wrestler/jiu-jitsu guy Andrew Riddles, and you can bet Riddles is going to try his best to avoid eating knuckles. Will it be enough? Or will O’Donnell find a way to remind us Northeasterners that he belongs in the big leagues?