(written by Goldyn Belgarde)
In less than 48hrs, Lou Neglia’s Ring of Combat and Dead Serious MMA Promotions will light up the Tropicana in Atlantic City with a card filled with bouts that are sure to be moments.
Stacked with five title fights, ROC 62 brings an array of the region’s finest to show and prove. The five fighters you’ll read about below have put it all and then some on the line for Friday night, here are their stories.
Brandon Urquijo – “It’s all about moments”
The 26 yrs old Bantamweight from Brooklyn has spent the last two weeks in Albuquerque, New Mexico gearing up for his rematch against 4-0, Phil Caracappa for the ROC 135lb title. The two fought back in at ROC 60 in September of 2017, ending in a split decision for Caracappa.
“I went back in the lab. Man, I must’ve watched that fight like 100 times,” said Urquijo on the loss. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Phil. I like his fighting style and I like him personally, he’s a good kid. It’s my fault for allowing the fight to get that close.”
Urquijo cites spending too much time gauging his opponent as one reason for his last two setbacks but affirms that he’ll have his moment with Caracappa.
”As I’m growing in my career, I’m learning it’s all about moments, and who has the most of them. My issue with those last two fights is that I was allowing for my moments to pass. After that fight [with William Elliot] I was torn up about it, it was in front of Dana White, I had such a huge crowd behind me. To have all of those people come down for me and not perform the way I felt I should’ve performed, I felt I had more to give,” said Uriquijo.
“Mega” has been giving it his all, dorming and training at Jackson-Wink MMA in Albuquerque with Holly Holm, John Dodson and other veterans to perfect his technique to avenge his loss. Much of Uriquijo’s determination was shaped by his head coach, Terry Gold who got him off the streets on the mat at a crucial time.
“I was a hood kid in the streets gangbanging and I just wasn’t a good person and then i found MMA,” the Brooklyn MMA fighter recalls. “Terry took me under his wing and even got my foot in the door in the business financing industry and now I’m working with people who have college degrees and I’m just this little hood kid from Brooklyn.”
That same kid from Brooklyn is now working at Excel Capital while grinding on the regional MMA circuit. For Urquijo, winning this fight is more than just a W, it’s a future.
”I’m here to make an impact on this sport, I’m not here just to be one of those guys that filters through. I don’t want to make it, I need to.”
Phil Caracappa – “Mr. 4-0”
Being undefeated ain’t easy, but Phil Caracappa is killing the game. Fighting under the tutelage of Dante Rivera, Caracappa has his eyes set on that 135lb title.
”I feel at my best yet, I put in the hardest training camp of my life. I went 4-0 in 2017 and I feel like 2018 is gonna be an even bigger year. Starting off the year with a title fight, I’m nothing but confident going into this and I’m excited,” said Caracappa.
Caracappa put ihs day job as a manager on hold to put all his time into preparing for the rematch, picking up his strength and conditioning and seeking to show more of his fluidity as a fighter.
“I’ve sacrificed so much for this camp, training 2-3 times a day, 5-6 days a week and I finally feel like I’m at that next level. I’m gonna be able to do a lot more this fight. There was a lot of footage from the last fight that I’ve watched and I’ve learned from old mistakes that I’m gonna capitalize off of. Although it’s not necessarily the matchup that I wanted and he [Uriquijo] is coming off of two losses, out of respect for him, I did wanted to give him his rematch, the judges thought it was a close fight the first time and I’m gonna prove why I won the first time,” said Caracappa.
Similar to Urquijo, Caracappa sees the big picture of this bout just land hopes to climb the ranks in MMA until he can support his loved ones so they don’t have to work anymore.
”My brothers and my parents have been there for me since the beginning and I know they’re always gonna continue to be there because they push me. This fight means so much to be because going forward, I wanna take my parents and everyone out of work.”
Adam Collarile – Opportunity Knocks
Adam Collarile may be making his ROC debut this Friday, but he’s no rookie. Collarile rose to the top of the ranks in Hawaii during his decade-long tenure at BJ Penn’s training academy. The former wrestler turned MMA spartan is filling in for Alex Olivera on five weeks notice, but isn’t sweating one bit.
“Training has been difficult as always, I literally got the call five weeks ago to fill in for Alex Oliveira who’s an outstanding grappler, so it’s been a grind. Luckily I’ve been in shape, Matt Culley has been adamant about having me at the RISE Invitationals, I was in the 8-man tournament for RISE 1 and 2 and then I had a superfight for RISE 3. Just being able to get out there and compete makes a world of difference,” said Collarile.
Collarile fell in love with MMA after his father suggested he join a nearby gym to stay on the right track heading into college.
He recalls the deja-vu he felt when first stepping into the gym, “I felt the squish of the mats against my feet and it just clicked, I was back.”
And that he was, Collarile packed up and moved to Hawaii for a change, little did he know that BJ Penn’s academy was just two blocks away from his house and would introduce him to his new Ohana.
”I remember watching BJ training with Kendall Grove and just sitting there being starstruck, little did I know he would later become a training partner, a friend, a coach. He’s taught me so much about MMA and fighting in general and I can always hang onto that constant, knowing that I had someone like him in my corner,” recalls Collarile.
He goes on to recall the hardcore training that has now shaped him into the fighter he is today, “What separates everyone at BJ’s gym from other gyms is that the amateurs train as though they’re professionals. In Hawaii we don’t wear shin guards, it’s professional rules so making the transition from an amateur to a professional was nothing different except the rounds were bit longer so cardio had to be stronger.”
Collarile is a decorated MMA/BJJ trainer who’s launched his own adult and youth programs. Despite the experience, Collarile notes that the most important quality of a teacher, is their ability to be a student as well.
”It’s hard to watch my guys compete and not want to get in there. You can’t sit in the back and crack a whip on your fighters. You gotta show them,” said Collarile.
Collarile plans to show everyone at ROC 62 why opportunity keeps knocking on his door.
“Most fighters go in there and they want a quick and easy win. I want a battle, I want a fight where people talk about for the next 10 years.”
Bill Algeo – Body Collector
Another vet in the game, Bill “Honey Badger” Algeo looks to further solidify his spot in his first title defense against Tevin Cooke.
”I know he comes from a wrestling background, so I’m expecting like most wrestlers after they get punched and kicked for him to probably try to shoot in on me and it’s more than likely not gonna be there or I’m gonna be defending it or dealing with in several different ways so I’m prepared for everything,” said Algeo.
Between teaching and training, Algeo is constantly in the gym fine tuning his craft for the day when he’ll get the call up to the UFC. The only stains you’ll find on Algeo’s record come at the hands of current UFC fighters such as Jared Gordon and Shane Burgos, but the Honey Badger takes every loss as a learning experience and
“I want to keep collecting bodies, I genuinely enjoy competing. I took a lost last year in front of Dana White and it sucked but I’ve grown form that. I realized that you learn a lot from the losses, the wins are all great and stuff but the moment passes. I really just enjoy competing and Ii think it’s fun to test yourself. Without this stuff I wouldn’t have any reason to eat healthy or work out as hard and i look forward to having something to look forward to,” said Algeo.
Will Cooke be another body?
Taj Abdul Hakim – Visualize Differently
The “Black Spartan”, Taj Abdul-Hakim will be defending his Welterweight title against Bradley Desir in what is sure to be a fight of the night candidate. How does he plan to get the W?
“I’m not really sure,” Hakim says. He places focus on being the most the most cross-skilled fighter he can be.
“I’m training to be really good at everything. Sometimes I have a definite way, but with this I’ll go with the flow. I know he’s very very powerful, dangerous and explosive so it’ll be a lot of technique,” said Hakim.
Coming off an epic K.O. win at Ring of Combat 60, Hakim was set to fight at ROC 61, but the bout ended up getting scrapped to multiple opponents getting injured. Not being sure on who his next opponent was gonna be, kept the “Black Spartan” on his toes, pushing him to be sharp all across the board.
’i just want to be sharp everywhere, stuff happens when you’ll be preparing to fight someone and someone will get injured and stuff will change,” said Hakim.
Between training for different opponents and teaching students young and old, Hakim finds himself in the gym for “damn near 6-7 hours a day,” but he loves every bit of it.
”I love being a teacher, it makes me look at things differently. Visualizing the different advantages and disadvantages your opponent will have over you. When you’re a teacher you have to teach different body types, skills levels you get to see what the possibilities are. It gives you a better imagination of what your opponent can or cannot do.”
Hakim is seeking to successfully defend his title against Bradley and continuing climbing the ranks to hopefully get a call from Dana White. In the meantime, he’ll be dabbling into more grappling and kickboxing events to keep on point.
Don’t miss these fighters put it all on the line this Friday at ROC 62. From debuts, to rematches, to title defenses, this card is stack with the baddest playmakers on the New York circuit all looking to get to the next level.
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