MMA Brawlroom will return to the area on June 8 when “Summer Brawl 2,” a 16-bout card, will be at St. Lucy’s Palermo Center, 394 Tenney Ave., Campbell.
Two title fights will highlight the all-amateur card, which marks the 39th mixed martial arts event that promotion director Chuck Haskell will be hosting.
In one title match, Smithfield’s Josh Hilliard (7-3) of Adena Grappling House will take on undefeated Bekzod Abdurakhmanov (4-0) of Clarion University in a 155-pound pairing.
In a 185-pound match-up, John Saxton (6-4), also from Grappling House, will take on title holder John Antinitis (7-2) of Gibsonia, Pa.
“I’m very excited because we have two excellent title matches already set to go and two other title pairings still a distinct possibility,” Haskell said. “Josh [Hilliard] is looking to turn pro so we should see two good fights between well-skilled competitors versed in both striking and grappling.
“As for Bek [Abdurakhmanov], he’s an excellent wrestler but he’ll get a stiff test from Josh, who’s an adept striker and grappler. He’ll need to see if he can respond to striking and not just rely mainly on his wrestling ability.”
Abdurakhmanov is a native of Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and wrestled collegiately for the Golden Eagles.
He is a two-time National Junior College Athletic Association national runner-up while wrestling for Colby (Kansas) Community College. The 185-pound crown has been in Antinitis’ possession the past year and a half.
“John [Antinitis] has been off since last summer so we will see how he reacts to John Saxton as he puts his title on the line,” Haskell said.
Two other title fights are being explored with Haskell still seeking opponents for Pennsylvania natives Mark Wiant (Sligo) and Shawn King (Volant). Wiant competes at 205 pounds and King at 145 pounds.
Local fighters on the card include: Warren’s Ron Vincent, who will take on Chuck Kunsiack of Erie in a 155-bout; Youngstown’s Chris Brocks, who will meet Deon Goodlow of Pittsburgh in a 170-pound pairing; and Saeed Garner, also of Youngstown, who is going up against Ben Quigley of Erie, Pa., in a 145-pound match-up.
“I’ve said it before and I will say it again, this area has a rich boxing, wrestling and martial arts history and provides the ideal location for combat sports such as boxing and MMA,” Haskell said. “That’s why MMA Brawlroom concentrates on pairing local fighters in fair and competitive match-ups.”
Other fighters with a local connection include Hubbard’s Frank Masimore, who will take on Robert Neumann of Struthers at 205 pounds. Yhree New Castle residents, Justin Stewart (185 pounds), Nick Camarata (205 pounds, formerly of Boston) and Sean Cogswell (185 pounds) are prepped for action.
A female bout featuring Jen L’ Insalata of Clarion, Pa., and Esther Graves of Erie, Pa., at 120 pounds is also slated.
Fights are sanctioned by the Ohio Athletic Commission and its director, Bernie Profato with weigh-in the day of the fight scheduled for 1 p.m. at Quaker Steak and Lube, 435 Boardman-Poland Road.
Tickets cost $25 prior to the event and $30 the night of the show. Tables of 12 for $600 and VIP tables for eight are priced at $320.
Tickets may be obtained by calling Haskell at 724-699-1725, through one of the fighters or at Quaker Steak and Lube’s Boardman and Sharon, Pa., locations.
At the KO Drugs’ High School Boxing Tournament finals on June 3 at St. Lucy’s Palermo Center, pre-sale tickets will be available for $15.
The event will begin at 7:30 p.m. with gates set to open at 5:30 p.m.
Further information is available at www.mmabrawlroom.com.