Thursday, June 28, 2012

All Champs, Big and Small: MUSU’s Will Cavali

Welcome, dear reader, to the first installment in a series called “All Champs, Big and Small”.  Yes, I will be profiling fighters who’ve won a belt, and no, the “big and small” part has nothing to do with their size on the scale.  You see, while all you fuckers have been standing transfixed by the gleam on Junior dos Santos’ UFC belt and the sheen on Gilbert Melendez’s Strikeforce strap, my eyes have wandered to those less seen.  Because when it comes down to it, if you take away the fame and the fortune, how different is it be the king of the Octagon and the king of an unsanctioned, underground event?  Royalty is royalty no matter where you go.  So here’s Will Cavali, who reigned undefeated in New York City’s Manup Standup (MUSU) promotion – an organization best described by the following words: full-contact kung fu, no pads but gloves, kumite, illicit, secret location, and Big Trouble in Little China.

The details on Cavali are that he’s a 23-year-old messenger who calls the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn home, and he walks around at the same weight he fights at – a svelte 140 pounds.  He looks like he’s carved out of wood.  When he fights, it’s a blur of agility and high-kicks and flourishes with his hands that seem straight out of Five Deadly Venoms.

“I was doing martial arts a while,” says Cavali, “and I always fought out in the street.  But I figured I was getting tired of that and I didn’t want to get arrested.  My teacher knew someone who told him about a martial arts tournament coming up, so I went in saying, ‘Let me see how good I can do.’  I didn’t expect to win.  At all.  If you look at the videos and interviews, I didn’t expect to win.  But I went in there and I just tried my best, and I came out on top.”

At the last MUSU installment, which was held in March at a location in Jamaica, Queens, Cavali squared off against an Underground Combat League veteran in Chris Lorenzo.  It was a rematch, and after a TKO via body-blow felled his opponent, Cavali abdicated the throne.  He retired from MUSU with an unblemished 10-0 record.
“I retired from Manup Standup because I felt like I really didn’t have anything else to prove,” he says.  “For me, the last fight that I had with Chris was like an alpha-and-omega match.  The whole championship thing started for me when I fought Chris, and it ended when I fought him again.”

Twice Cavali has ventured into the territory of the UCL, testing the waters with a pair of kickboxing-only matches, and though he lost via decision in both outings, his performances were impressive enough to garner more than a few invitations to train with established MMA teams.  He remains true to his kung fu school, though, where they practice grappling as well.  “Most people say that kung fu can’t be transitioned into MMA,” he says.  “That’s something I want to disprove.”
How soon until his first true MMA bout?  And will it be in a sanctioned bout in New Jersey or an unsanctioned affair closer to home?

“Right now I still training for it,” says Cavali.  “Before, I just jumped into it.  Now I’m actually preparing for it.  So I guess I’ll start out with underground events first.  When I’m more experienced, I’ll go and do those sanctioned events.  I don’t want to jump into something like going to Jersey without really knowing the vibe of it.  I want to make sure I’m fully prepared.”
When asked about his long-term goals in regards to fighting and competing, he doesn’t hesitate to answer.  “My ultimate goal is to just build a career doing something I love doing.  I don’t consider this work.  I love to do it.  I’ve always fought.”

Bonus Question: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done? 
“The craziest thing I ever done was in high school,” says Cavali.  “I had a threesome in the janitors’ closet with these two girls from the other side of Brooklyn.  That was it.  That was the craziest thing I’ve ever done.”

Watch for Cavali to fight in the UCL in the fall.

House of Cards

This was supposed to be a busy week for Northeast mixed martial arts.  Thursday night would feature the Urban Conflict Championship, which was returning after a year-long hiatus with a card chock full of Bellator and WEC vets, while Saturday night would have another installment of the Cage Fury Fighting Championship in Atlantic City.  But something went wrong in the time between the fighters signing their contracts and getting their necessary paperwork into the athletic commission, and now the UCC has been cancelled.  They say it’s not easy being a fighter, what with the rigors of training and competing and having someone punch you in the face.  The hardships fighters go through, however, are only part of the story.  As Chris Sblendorio – the man behind the UCC – can attest to, promoting a successful event is akin to erecting a house of cards. 

More after the jump...