Las Vegas fans get “big small show” tonight
While UFC fans have to wait until next Saturday to see the biggest stars take to the biggest stage once again, fans in Las Vegas will be able to get their fight fix at Bally’s Event Center, as Superior Cage Combat delivers their inaugural event.
The event will be called by John Morgan of MMAjunkie.com and pro BMX rider, MMA fan and Vegas native T.J. Lavin and boasts some recognizable names including heavyweight Chase Gormley, IFL veteran Bristol Marunde, former WEC competitor Dave Terrel and Eric Wisely.
Headlining the event will be a lightweight battle between a pair of former UFC competitors looking to make their way back to the sport’s premier organization, Steve Lopez and Justin Buchholz.
Though he enters this bout on a three-fight losing streak, Lopez is far from being ready to throw in the towel. The 26-year-old from South Bend now training at Xtreme Couture says circumstance, not lack of skill, is what has him on the skids right now.
“I look at my last three fights as I was fighting one of the top 5 guys in the world (vs. Jim Miller at UFC 108) on 20 days notice and I threw my shoulder out. I lost a split decisions that I felt I won (to Waylon Lowe at UFC 119), and then the referee made a mistake in my last fight. That’s how I look at it.”
Back in February, Lopez faced another former UFC competitor, Fabricio Camoes at Tachi Palace Fighting 8, lasting just 23 seconds.
“In my last fight, I got clipped, and I dropped, and I was 100 percent fine. There was nothing I could do about any one of those three fights. All three of those things are out of my control.
“All I can do is train hard and show up to fight hard, and whatever happens happens. Hopefully I get the win, but if not, there is nothing I can do. So I don’t look at it as career-threatening; I’m only 26-years-old, you know. As long as I’m healthy, I’ll fight until I’m 40.”
Hungry to get back to the big stage, Lopez is excited to see an organization like Superior Cage Combat bringing opportunities to compete on smaller shows to Las Vegas.
“This is a huge for opportunities for fights because I’m looking to make it back to the UFC, and without fight promotions for me to fight in, it’s going to be hard for me to get those three, four, five fights I need. Without shows like the SCC around, who else would I fight for here in Las Vegas? I’m surprised there’s not four or five professional organizations out here.”
Though he broke his own extended losing streak just last month at Showdown Fights, Buchholz is in a similar position as his main event opponent.
Once viewed as a talented prospect and a quality addition to the UFC lightweight ranks, Buchholz stumbled inside the Octagon. The 27-year-old managed a 1-4 record, losing his final three UFC outings to Terry Etim, Jeremy Stephens and Mac Danzig.
Following his loss to Danzig, Buchholz went a year without fighting. Instead of rushing back into the cage, the Alaskan took the time to address his weakness, including borrowing the weight cutting secrets of his Team Alpha Male teammates.
“After my last fight in the UFC, I took a year off and just did things like BJJ in the gi, change up my training. I had been training so often that it was just peak for the fight, peak for the fight, and you can’t train on your weakness and learn new things because you have to keep your sharpest tools sharp.
“I took my year of fixing all my weaknesses. When the machine is flawed, you have to go back to the drawing board to fix it and find out all its weaknesses. I think a lot of fighters get into trouble because they just jump from fight to fight to fight, and they lose and don’t look at why. I had problems with weight-cutting issues. For the year that I didn’t fight, I cornered (Chad) Mendes, (Joseph) Benavidez for his world title fight, and I stole all their moves and tricks, and now I have the best weight-cutting in MMA right now.”
Though he dropped his comeback fight in February as a result of a cut, Buchholz got himself back in the win column last month in Utah with an impressive first-round stoppage of Steve Sharp. He says the weight-cutting issue is a thing of the past, and he’s focused on returning to the biggest stage in the sport, just like Lopez.
“In my UFC fights, Monday I’d land in Vegas or I’d land in Germany and I’d have a sauna suit on doing two-a-day runs on treadmills up until I fought. I didn’t know what I was doing. I’d eat an apple and a scoop of peanut butter a day for a week. For this fight, I cut six pounds [Friday morning] and I ate a full meal last night. It makes a world of difference.
“It’s all about being in the UFC. If you’re not in the UFC, on the scale of MMA, you don’t matter. They try to let you fight to your potential. They give you everything you need to win that fight. The UFC is where its at.”
With his eye on a return to the UFC, Buchholz is grateful for the opportunity organizations like Superior Cage Combat provide to both emerging fighters looking for their big break, and those who are looking for a second chance as well.
“I love these smaller shows. I had a blast in Utah; Showdown Fights was an incredible show. I was fighting in the main event out there and people made it like I was fighting in the main event of the UFC, so I couldn’t be more happier with that. This show is a pretty well-run, pretty professional show and I’m looking forward to getting in there.
“Having these smaller shows is everything; without these smaller shows, we wouldn’t have any records. We don’t hear of guys going to the UFC with no record anymore. Other than The Ultimate Fighter, you wouldn’t have any way to get to that level. These smaller shows are essential to bringing up fighters and showing off talent looking to get to the UFC level.”
Superior Cage Combat takes place at Bally’s Event Center.
For more information on upcoming events and the organization, visit their website at www.superiorcagecombat.com.