Mixed Martial Arts fans won't want to miss the long-awaited return of one the region's most exciting fighters, North Andover's Dan Bonnell, when he resumes his storied professional career in the Combat Zone MMA stacked 14 event card - All or Nothing- on Friday, April 4 in the Sports Club at Rockingham Park.
"I'm as prepared as I'll ever be. I'm as ready as I'm going to be," said Bonnell (11-9), who matches up against Derry, NH's John Santos in at150 pounds. "I'm excited and we're going to put on one of the best fights of the night."
Bonnell has been involved in the fight scene from the other side of the cage as an MMA journalist with massmma.com and other online publications during his 18 month layoff.
Said Bonnell, "A fighter is never retired. Even Michael Jordan retired but then came back. I've always been involved in the martial arts and I've always been going to the different studios, including Renzo Gracie New Hampshire and Team Triumph in Nashua. There are a lot of young guys training there who are tough, tough guys and I've been rolling with them. I still have it."
Although Santos (1-1) is taller and larger than Bonnell and is aggressive in the cage, Bonnell has plenty of firepower as well.
"He is a striker and I'm more of a wrestler. His game plan is going to be to keep it standing where I want to go to ground," he said. "This is going to be a really fun fight that people are really going to want to see."
JT Harold, also from North Andover, is the #3 ranked amateur welterweight in the Northeast and he will have his toughest test yet when he takes on Brett Trahan, the top-ranked welterweight.
Two pro events figure to be highly as competitive and entertaining as well, Brent Kinberger (5-3) taking on Mervin Rodriguez (5-7) at 155 pounds in the main event and Cheyenne Vasquez (2-0), fighting out of Lawrence, MA, battling the always tough Eddie Brito (3-5) in the middleweight division.
Eleven other evenly-matched and intense cage fights featuring the marquee amateur fighters from the Merrimack Valley and across the Northeast make this a night not to miss, and one of the most intriguing amateur match-ups on the under card figures to be the featherweight title fight between Jake "The Gorilla" Pilla and Paulo Alves DeSousa. Pilla, from Billerica, MA and Alves De Sousa from Malden, MA bring identical records of 2-0 and an arsenal of mixed martial arts skills to the bout, and only one can exit the cage still undefeated. Doors open at 6:30 PM and the first fight kicks off in Rockingham’s Sports Club at 8 PM. Tickets for the event are $40 for general admission, $50, $75, $90 or $120 for ringside seating and parking is free. Tickets may be purchased at www.combatzonemma.com.
Fans are invited to the weigh-in, where they have the opportunity to meet their favorite fighters and get their autographs. This free event will be held on Thursday, April 3 in the Sports Club beginning at 6 PM. The updated card, which is subject to change, is: **PRO FIGHTS*** 155lbs Brent Kinberger 5-3 (Manchester) vs. Mervin Rodriguez 5-7 (Newark, NJ) 150lbs Dan Bonnell 11-10 (Haverhill, MA)vsJohn Santos Pro: 1-1 (Derry, NH) 185lbs Cheyenne Vazquez 2-0 (Lawrence, MA) vs. Eddie Brito 3-5 (Derry, NH) ***AMATEUR FIGHTS*** TITLE FIGHT 145lbs Jake Pilla 2-0 (Billerica, MA) vs. Paulo Alves DeSousa 2-0 (Malden, MA) 145 lbs. Michael Fagan 0-0 (MA) vs Josh Harvey 0-0 (Bangor, ME) 170lbs Tim Loughran 1-0 (MA) vs. Roger Williams 0-0 (Cortland, NY) 155lbs Jeff Beal 0-0 (NH) vs Mike Bulger 0-0 (VT) 135lbs David Bradbury 1-0 (VT vs. Carl Langston 1-3 (Windham, ME) 170lbs Claudio Rene 1-0 (Lawrence, MA) vs. Corey Bowehall 1-2 (Watertown, NY) 185lbs Kristian Lombari 0-3 (Methuen, MA) vs. John Ryan 0-0 (Nashua, NH) 145lbs Danny Abad 1-2 (Watertown, NY) vs. Dan Lynch 2-0 (Plaistow, NH) 170lbs Brett Trahan 9-2 (Burlington, VT) vs. J.T. Harold 3-1 (No Andover, MA) 145lbs Aaron Lacey 3-0 (Bnagor, ME) vs Matt Tullos 5-0 (Dedham, MA) 135lbs Alec Wilson 0-0 (MA) vs Jordan Yantin 0-2 (Methuen, MA)-30-