Fight Time 35: Rocha vs. Izquierdo – A New Era (Full Card Preview)

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Fight Time Promotions 35th event will be a night of many firsts, the first event held at The James L. Knight Center, the first event since being acquired by the publicly traded, Alliance MMA corporation and the first event of the new year. The card is stacked from top to bottom, a main event featuring two UFC veterans competing for the lightweight title, a co-main event featuring two dynamic strikers in the prime of their careers and the first round of a four man heavyweight tournament that will crown a new champion. This will be a card you will want to see live this Friday 2/17 at the James L. Knight Center in Miami. But if you can not make in down to the venue you can stream the fights live at http://www.Fighttimepromotion.com

 

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Khaylash Tillack (1-1) vs. Philip Keller (1-3)

Featherweight (125)

The opening bout of the night features the prize pupil of lightweight champion Vagner Rocha against a battle tested veteran who overwhelms opponents with his dominant wrestling.

Khaylash Tillack: 24 year old Guyana native Khaylash Tillack excited Florida fight fans in his extensive amateur career and after capturing two promotional titles he has carried that excitement over into his pro fights. Tillack is a protege of Fight Time Lightweight champion and main event contender Vagner Rocha and much like his mentor he is well equipped for a fight in every position. Training full time out of Vagner Rocha’s Martial Arts in Pembroke Pines Tillack will look to start the night out right for his long time home gym. 

Philip Keller: Veteran stand out wrestler Philip “Captain” Keller is coming off of a no question about it first round knockout victory in his most recent fight this past November. Keller also had a stand out amateur career going 6-1 while capturing multiple promotional titles. Keller’s roots are in wrestling, but he has transformed himself into a complete martial artist who can knockout opponents on the feet or submit them on the mat.

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Plinio Ferreira (4-2) vs. Ginseng Du Jour (2-4)

Bantamweight (135)

The second fight of the night features a highly touted American Top Team prospect against a heavy handed striker that has fought and won all through out the south.

Plinio Ferreira:  Plinio “Pitbull” Ferreira is a name that you’re going to hear a lot in the coming years. The 25 year old rising Brazilian prospect is a BJJ Purple belt who possess punishing muay thai technique on the feet. He came to the U.S in 2015 from his native Brazil and since that time he has been training with a multitude of high level training partners at the American Top Team home base in Coconut Creek. Working day in and day out with fighters like Enrique Barzola and Leandro Silva is going to make Ferreira a young fighter you are going to want to keep an eye on.

Ginseng Du Jour: A stand out in the Virginia MMA circuit Ginseng Du Jour made a name for himself training under Rick McCoy at the MMA Institute in Richmond. Du Jour has since migrated South to train with multiple elite camps including the newly formed Combat Club and The Moncaio Brothers BJJ. A late bloomer in the MMA world Du Jour did not began competing in the sport until later in life, but now at 36 he has become a well rounded, high IQ fighter with very little detrition of his physical tools and is primed to make a run in the bantamweight division.

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Kester Mark (4-4) vs. Javier Baez (5-0)

Bantamweight (135)

This bout will showcase the bantamweight debut of the best flyweight in the state taking on a young, hungry fighter who has knockout power and bone breaking submissions.

Kester Mark: 24 year old Kester “The Question” Mark is coming off of a huge third round stoppage over the previously mentioned Plinio Ferreira at Fight Time 32 last August. All of Mark’s fights have taken place in the Fight Time cage where he has solidified himself as a contender in the bantamweight division. Mark started his MMA journey as a high school wrestler and over the years John Clarke and the rest of the RFLX team in Hollywood have transformed him in to an all around threat and violent finisher.

Javier Baez: Uncrowned flyweight champion Javier “Unbreakable” Baez made short work of ATT fighter Yunier Valdez in what should have been for the Fight Time flyweight title, unfortunately Baez missed weight and the bout was a non title affair. The 28 year old MMA Masters fighter will now move up to the bantamweight division which suits his 5’7″frame much better. Baez was in the process of clearing out Fight Time’s flyweight division, the move up should prove to be a stiffer test. Punch-Face.com profiled Baez last June you can check it out here: Prospect Profile: Javier Baez

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Junaure Saintil (3-1) vs. Socrates Pierre (7-3)

Lightweight (155)

This number one contender fight will match up a home grown talent against the former champion of a competing promotion to give us the next challenger for the lightweight belt.

Junaure Saintil: Heavy handed 23 year old Junaure “Zoepapi” Saintil earned this lightweight title eliminator matchup by knocking out highly respected MMA Masters fighter Michael Lilly last August at Fight Time 32. Saintil collected multiple titles (including the Fight Time amateur lightweight belt) in his 10-0 amateur career and is now on the hunt for his first as a professional. Fighting out of Hollywood’s Training For Life gym Saintil is another talent who has been developed by Fight Time Promotions and has matured in to an elite talent. Zoepapi is a complete fighter, but make no mistake about it his main objective is to separate his opponents from consciousness.

Scorates Pierre: Former Island Fights lightweight champion Socrates” Sok” Pierre will make his promotional debut in this number one contender fight. Pierre fights out of Tallahassee’s Train. Fight. Win gym, the same gym that launched the career of the late UFC fighter Josh Samman. Pierre is a fighter who will take what the fight gives him, confident on the feet or the mat he will look to push an unmatchable pace against his less experienced opponent. When he is not training Pierre is a fire fighter in Madison Florida.

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Miguel Baeza (2-0) vs. Augustus D’Angelo (2-1)

Lightweight (155)

The fifth fight scheduled to take place will feature two young prospects, one looking to stay undefeated and work his way in to the title picture and the other a fighter eager to avenge his brother, who was defeated by his opponent last year.

Miguel Baeza: 24 year old rising welterweight prospect Miguel Baeza has come out of the gates swinging as a pro. In his debut Baeza knocked out Emre Orun in the opening minute, he followed that up with another first round knockout stopping Michael D’Angelo at Fight Time 33. Baeza is a high level BJJ black belt and the two first round knockouts demonstrate his commitment to becoming a complete fighter. His home gym is Davie’s Rock MMA, but he also trains at ATT Cape Coral along side former Fight Time champ Niko Price.

Augustus D’Angelo: The youngest of the fighting D’Angelo family Augustus “Gus” D’Angelo was victorious in his first two Fight Time bouts defeating Tyler McLeod and Moises Aberu respectively. Now the New York native looks to avenge his older brother and inch his way closer to a title shot in the process. Gus is one of the head coaches at his family’s Fight Zone DMMA gym and has also worked extensively with Henri Hooft at the newly opened Combat Club MMA. D’Angelo has trained all aspects of combat since day one and has the potential to be a big name in the sport.

Leo Valdivia (4-2) vs. Alan Arzeno (7-6)

Welterweight (170)

This match up between two world class strikers could easily be the fight of the night.

Leo Valdivia: Fighting out of the Young Tigers Foundation in Coral Gables Leo Valdivia will make a quick turn around following a victory over Andreas Lazcano at Fight Time 34 two months ago. Valdivia’s versatile striking and solid take down defense have made him one of the most sought after welterweight prospects outside of the UFC. His success in the highest levels of  karate have prepared Valdivia for fighting on the sport’s largest stages. In 2008 he fought UFC veteran Uriah Hall in Chuck Norris’s sort lived World Combat League.

Alan Arzeno: Muay Thai standout Alan “Rebel” Arzeno makes his return to MMA after a four year layoff. Arzeno’s last MMA bout took place in Combate Americas reality show where he fought and defeated internet sensation backyard brawler Rene “Level” Martinez with a liver kick in the second round. Arzeno owns and operates The South Florida Mixed Martial Arts Academy and also trains with a slew killers at ATT Kendall. Once the welterweight champion of New York’s Raging Wolf MMA, the 37 year old Arzeno is on a quest to regain his championship glory.

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Michel Batista (2-0) vs. Drew Stewart (3-3)

Heavyweight (265)

This battle of big men will be the first round of a four man tournament that will also feature the newly signed Kenny “Deuce” Gardner and a yet to be named fourth participant with the winner being crowned the new Fight Time Promotions heavyweight champ.

Michel Batista: As a member of the Cuban Olympic Wrestling team Michel Batista brings a level of grappling to the heavyweight division that is unmatched by any other fighter in the sport. Batista’s last fight at Fight Time 33 ended when an accidental eye poke rendered Oscar Delgado unable to continue leading to an anti climactic no contest. The 32 year old has been training with fellow Cuban wrestlers Yoel Romero and Alexis Villa at ATT Kendall for a little over a year and he is evolving rapidly in his new sport. If Batista can add striking to his arsenal it is going to be difficult for anyone to deny him the Fight Time Promotions heavyweight belt.

Drew Stewart: United States Marine Drew Stewart is defiantly the dark horse of this heavyweight tournament, he does not have the credentials of some of the other participants, but he does have raw knockout power and undeniable heart that will make him a dangerous man to fight. Stewart displayed that fight changing power in his last bout knocking out Andreas Danapas in the first round of their bout at Fight Time 34. Stewart trains with the Fight Sport Naples team under the guidance of legendary BJJ black belt Macel Gonclaves which will give him the confidence to grapple with the Olympic wrestler if their fight should hit the mat.

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Jose Caceres (12-7) vs. Cristiano Souza (7-1) 

Welterweight Title Fight (170)

The first title fight of the night features two dynamic strikers with BJJ black belts in their prime looking to capture titles that have narrowly slipped through their grasp in the past.

Jose Caceres: Long time contender in the Florida MMA circuit  Jose ” The Fresh Prince of Kendall” Caceres earned his second shot at Fight Time gold by choking out Rafael Souza at Fight Time 33 last November. Jose is one year the senior of his brother UFC vet Alex “Bruce Leeroy” Caceres and much like Bruce Leeroy,  Jose’s fighting style puts the Art in Mixed Martial Artist. His creative, fluid striking is coupled with a long 6’2″ frame that allows him to sink in chokes and armbars from unique positions. Caceres has paid his dues on the regional circuit, if he can capture the Fight Time title it wont be long before he joins his brother in the UFC ocatgon.

Cristiano Souza: Bellator and TUF veteran Cristiano “Soldado” Souza will make his Fight Time debut in this championship fight. Souza received this immediate title shot after a three year lay off from the sport because he has a reputation of being a explosive action packed fighter that will bring the fight to any opponent. On the feet Souza is a black belt in Capoeira and throws a variety of acrobatic kicks that can quickly end his opponents night. On the ground Soldado is a BJJ black belt and has won three fights by submission and overall his training partners at ATT Coconut Creek are comprised of the best fighters in the sport and they will have him ready for war come fight night.

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Vagner Rocha (13-4) vs. Yoislandy Izquierdo (10-3)

Lightweight Title Fight (155)

The Main event will be the fourth defense of a promotional legend who has the best BJJ in the sport against a UFC veteran whose tight boxing and lighting fast karate kicks make him a scary opponent for any man in the lightweight division.

Vagner Rocha: Very few fighters can match the combat sports resume of Fight Time Promotions lightweight champion Vagner Rocha. In MMA Rocha is a veteran of UFC, Bellator and Strikeforce and in BJJ he has won countless tournaments in his 20 years of competing. Rocha originally won the Fight Time belt in 2012 and defended it three times before vacating it to sign with the UFC. He returned to Fight Time last year and quickly recaptured his belt by knocking out Gabriel Miranda and Rafael Alves respectively. Rocha’s recent striking performances showcased the evolution of his game and demonstrated that he is a totally different fighter from the guy that fought Cowboy Cerrone in 2011. A fourth title defense for the new and improved Vagner may earn him his third stint as a UFC fighter and the opportunity to show the world what he is really capable of.

Yoislandy Izquierdo: Two time UFC veteran Yoislandy “Cuba” Izquierdo earned his first crack at Fight Time gold by knocking out Nova Unaio fighter Glaucio Eliziario at Fight Time 33. As you might have guessed from his nickname Izquierdo is from Cuba where he trained with the world renowned Cuban National amateur boxing team. He is also a black belt in karate making him a lethal stand up fighter with devastating power. Izquierdo joins Leo Valdivia in representing the Young Tigers Foundation a gym known for producing some of the sports most dynamic strikers. Much like Rocha, Izquierdo has evolved tremendously since his time in the UFC and winning this Fight Time title may be his ticket back in to the octagon.

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