The lineup of amateurs at NorCal Fight Series (NCFS) 3 is speckled with enough MMAGOLD to tickle the bones of the late John Sutter. Nearly half of the fifteen fights on the card, three of which for NCFS championships, spotlight a member of the fight team stationed in El Dorado Hills, California. On September 10, 2016, the spectators inside the Metro City Soccer Complex may succumb to the hypnotic glow of MMAGOLD’s fighters when they’re locked in the cage as if it’s a vault in Fort Knox.
“The” Blake Benson (4-0)
In the main event at NCFS 3, “The” Blake Benson collides with Andrew “Bulldog” Coyne for the NCFS Bantamweight Title.
The matchmakers at NCFS didn’t position Benson opposite Coyne to merely polish his record. Quite the contrary, a win over Team Alpha Male’s Coyne solidifies the purity of Benson’s skill set:
“I’m here to prove I am the best. I don’t want to fight easy guys, or scrubs. I want to take on the best in the world, and win.”
Benson’s first step, of many, down MMA’s yellow-brick prizefighting road begins when the soles of his feet connect with NCFS’s vibrant, sunflower canvas and exits bearing the mark as the region’s top amateur bantamweight:
“My cardio is hands down the best it’s ever been, and I plan on keeping a pace that can’t be matched. He won’t be able to keep up and I’ll get the finish; however, if the fight goes the distance, I’m going to make sure I put everything I had in that cage and walk away with the judges tipping their hands in my favor.”
Kaleio Romero (2-0)
Kaleio Romero, in his third amateur fight, targets his second amateur belt at NCFS 3 when he meets Philip Hattersley in the co-main event for the NCFS Lightweight Title.
Earning his brown belt in Kuk Sool Won during childhood, as well as an assortment of wrestling accolades from middle school into early adulthood, the only sport that cut deeper into his competitive ore than any other was MMA. Change doesn’t simply arrive with the seasons, and Romero looks forward to implementing his evolving capabilities and closing out summer by bringing the heat to Hattersley:
“I’ve been working really hard, and I feel I’ve gotten better since the last time I was in there.”
Romero didn’t ditch his wrestling shoes and singlet to simply pin his happiness on pausing his ascent in MMA at an amateur title. Hoisting the lightweight strap above his head is a means to an end—a future champion of the world:
“Saturday is when I get to showcase my improvements. Also, I’m planning on banging with this guy, so that’ll be fun. I see me grinding this guy out and, hopefully, getting the finish.”
Charles “Zero” Jelks (5-2)
One hundred percent driven to park the NCFS Featherweight Title on his mantle, Charles “Zero” Jelks agreed to face Justin Cornell at NCFS 3 on two-weeks notice—plenty of time for “Zero” to be fully optimized at 145 pounds.
Apparently, Jelks went from zero to “Zero” once he accepted the lustrous proposition from NCFS’s front office:
“I’m very excited for my upcoming fight. It’s my first title fight, so I’m taking it very seriously. I took the fight on two-weeks notice and stepped up my training to be ready.”
Much like the panhandlers of 1852 who, day after day, waded to their knees in a river, dipped their metal gold pans into the sediment, and patiently scoped its rocky contents until—finally—fishing out a fortuitous nugget, Jelks won’t sway from his well-versed technique in order to discover featherweight fortune:
“I see the fight starting out with him being very aggressive, but I’m going to move around a lot, stick him with my jab and wait for the perfect moment to get a takedown. I’m either going to get the submission or just keep taking him down all three rounds and win by split or unanimous decision.”
Arlene Culbreth (4-3)
There’s a ton of boiling blood behind Arlene Culbreth’s cold stare as she nears her lightweight affair at NCFS 3, and whether her opponent, Anita Hoehenleiter, knows it or not, doesn’t cause Culbreth to adjust her ferocious mindset. Her motivation for stepping into the cage is as simple as:
“I’m excited to punch someone I don’t like.”
Truth is: If you’re standing across from Culbreth, she, for a fact, doesn’t like you. Hoehenleiter, who holds a six-inch height advantage, may, literally, be Culbreth’s largest test to date, yet Culbreth conceptualizes: she’s larger-than-life while wrapped in six-ounce gloves:
“I’m hoping to get the finish or just bully the girl with heavy hands, whether that’s standing or some ground and pound. I’m comfortable and completely content with either.”
Shawn Birkley (2-2)
Following a loss that dragged his record back to .500, Shawn Birkley cupped his hands on the sides of his head to shield the distracting periphery. Currently, the carrot hanging in front of this middleweight is a picture of the gritty Anthony Charles and a circle around September 10th:
“I’ve never been this focused. I’m gonna go in there and look for the finish.”
Of course, Birkley isn’t looking past his opponent, but he senses something about the pairing that weighs in his favor:
“The guy I’m fighting is good, but I feel like it’s a good matchup for me. I feel like I’ll get the finish, whether it be a submission or knockout; I will get it.”
Blake Degmetich (1-3)
Soon after middleweights Blake Degmetich and Alex Reyes are ushered into NCFS’s cage and issued their final instructions, fight fans, according to Degmetich, will be in for a treat. Even as an amateur, Degmetich’s preparations for NCFS 3 portrayed professionalism:
“I’m looking forward to this fight because I feel like I’ve improved in a variety of ways, mainly my focus but also my skill set.”
As a member of MMAGOLD, Degmetich recognizes the importance of yielding a golden touch of entertainment value with each performance; hence, he suggested: the men and women responsible for filling out NCFS 3’s scorecards could grab an item from the snack bar, rest their feet along the cage’s side, lean back, and soak in a fantastic show—for a round or so:
“I see this fight being a stand up brawl that will go one of two ways: TKO/KO on the feet or a sub on the ground, but the judges will not have a say in how this fight is determined.”
Dyllan Snavely (2-2)
Dyllan Snavely, a heavyweight cage fighter with a schoolboy smile, has a lot to prove, both to himself and the loved ones who will surround him when he meets Eddie Smith at NCFS 3. For Snavely, this fight acts an ideal assessment of his progress as a mixed martial artist:
“I’m excited to fight at NCFS 3, to show what I’m capable of in the cage. I’m also excited to fight so close to home where many of my friends and family will be able to see the payoff for all the hard work that I have put into this sport.”
Through Snavely’s perspective, the perfect punctuation to his contest versus Smith: an exclamatory finish. Nabbing a win before the close of regulation hasn’t pixelated with precision in Snavely’s prediction, but he knows, after logging more training sessions throughout this camp than ever before, the finish will present itself:
“I see my fight ending with a finish. I’m not sure where or how, but I’ve been working hard to be a well-rounded fighter and think that I am dangerous, both on my feet and on the mat.”
At the conclusion of NCFS 3, a new strain of “Gold Fever” may hypnotize the Northern California fans of MMA after an assortment of MMAGOLD’s leading amateur fighters reveal their talents and tenacity.