The game plan is simple, nothing too complex for New Hampshire native Joey Gomez as he prepares for the biggest fight of his life.
"I just want to punch people in the face, man," Gomez said.
Facing rising star Kin Moy Friday, March 13th, 2015 on the nationally-televised portion of "CES MMA XXVIII" at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I., could take Gomez's new career to new heights. The same applies for Moy (6-1, 2 KOs), who is fresh off a trial run with Bellator in September looking to get back to the big stage.
When two fighters sharing similar goals collide in front of a worldwide audience, the results are usually epic, and the Gomez-Moy bantamweight showdown could steal the spotlight from the bigger, more established names on the main card.
"I want a war," Gomez said. "I've been waiting for a Micky Ward-Arturo Gatti fight. I want someone who will test me as a fighter."
Moy will gladly oblige. In just his fifth professional fight, the Cambridge, Mass., native stepped up to face the red-hot Andre Soukhamthath in January of 2014. Soukhamthath hadn't lost since his pro debut, a seven-fight win streak, but Moy won by unanimous decision, earning him a spot on Bellator 123 later that year.
Tough fights are the norm, not the exception, for Moy, and now the scrappy, 5-foot-5 bantamweight is aiming to hand Gomez his first loss in five pro fights, an impressive streak of five consecutive knockout wins for the Hollis native that began in March of 2013.
"I've always been attracted to the big fight," Moy said, "and right now he's the guy to beat. I don't think it's the venue or the stage that will make the difference. I think it'll be the quality of opponents we've faced. So far, I've fought the tougher fighters.
"I'm more tested in that regard. I'll be by far the toughest opponent he's stood across from, and maybe vice-versa. That's what makes this fight especially intriguing. I do think, and I hope, me fighting the tougher fights before this will pay dividends. There's only way to find out."
While this might, on paper, be considered a step up for Gomez based on experience alone, Gomez actually credits Moy for stepping up to fight him. Gomez sought out a fight against 15-fight vet Pedro Gonzalez, but the two could never settle on the weight, so he'll instead face Moy, who is coming off a win over Fernando Perez in December.
"The thing he's got going for him is he's durable," Gomez said of Moy. "He's like a Jon Fitch type of fighter. He grinds people down. It makes for a nasty fight. Someone in your face pressing you against the cage, peppering you with shots, not letting you breath, that constant pressure breaks a lot of people.
"I'm too dumb and tough to be broken."
While acknowledging Moy "likes to box," Gomez also pointed out perceived weaknesses in his opponent's ground game.
"I've seen him shoot, but I've also seen him get taken down a lot, so it makes me question his takedown defense," Gomez said. "He comes forward a lot, but doesn't like to be pressured. Soukhamthath pressured him a lot and every time he got him against the cage, he took him down. He still ended up winning."
"From watching his fights, the biggest thing about him is his aggression. He's always on the attack," countered Moy. "Even when he gets taken down, he's throwing up submissions from his back. He's got really good hands. Throws a good 1-2 combination. Good boxing technique. He's put a lot of people out in the first round and that's what makes him extremely dangerous, but I think I can weather the storm."
Though both fighters dream of gracing a much bigger stage in the future, the thrill of facing a competitive opponent with the same hopes and dreams is what motivates them to succeed.
"If I could fight tough people here for the rest of my life, I'd be happy with that," said Moy, who admits he doubts himself from time to time.
"That's the whole point. I want to go in there and see where I'm at. I get nervous, but the satisfaction of finding out where I stand is what drives me to do this. It invigorates rather than hinders."
Each fight is a stepping stone, even in defeat. In fact, Moy has learned the most from his losses, even as an amateur when he suffered his only loss to Rico Disciullo.
"Before that fight, I never thought I could get knocked out. I lost by TKO," he said. "That inspired me to learn the nuances of defense."
He put those lessons to use in his Bellator showdown with Garcia despite coming out on the short end of a split decision.
"It was bloody and dramatic all the way through, the kind of fight I like," Moy said. "What I took away from that is I can't leave everything up in the air. That's how I feel moving forward. I need to end my exchanges with an exclamation point, and if I can work my way inside, I need to stay in there."
Added Gomez: "This kind of fight makes me rise to the occasion. That's what I want. I want it to be exciting. I want to stand and bang. People want to see people get knocked out and I happen to be good at knocking people out."
Tickets for "CES MMA XXVIII" are priced at $40.00, $55.00, $100.00 and $125.00 and available for purchase online at www.cesmma.com or www.twinriver.com, by phone at 401-724-2253/2254 or at the Twin River Players Club. All fights and fighters are subject to change.
Dracut, Mass., lightweight and 14-time Bellator vet Rick Hawn (19-4, 11 KOs) faces Derek Loffer (9-2, 6 KOs) of Cedar Rapids, Iowa in the main event. The main card of "CES MMA XXVIII" also features fan-favorite Luis Felix (12-8, 4 KOs) of Providence, R.I., who makes his third AXS TV appearance in the co-feature against Rich Patishnock (6-2, 1 KO) of East Stroudsburg, Pa.; and the television debut of bantamweight Andre Soukhamthath (8-2, 4 KOs) of Woonsocket, R.I. (Boca Raton, Fla.), who'll face New York native and Bombsquad vet Brian Kelleher (11-7, 5 KOs).
Norwood, Mass., heavyweight Tyler King (8-2, 3 KOs) returns in a three-round bout against seasoned vet Mike Mucitelli (7-1, 1 KO) of Syracuse while Pawtucket, R.I., middleweight Todd Chattelle (12-11, 9 KOs) returns to the CES MMA cage for a record 12th time looking to snap a two-fight losing streak when he faces the dangerous Roger Carroll (15-11), who has submitted 14 of his 15 victims.
The star-studded undercard features the return of rising stars Kyle Bochniak (4-0, 1 KO) and Lewis Corapi (6-1, 3 KOs). Bochniak, a Boston native, faces featherweight Dominic Warr (4-5, 1 KO) of Allston, Mass., while the Medford, Mass., vet Corapi battles Jay Bakanowski (2-1, 1 KO) of Northborough, Mass. Flyweight Chad Kelly (3-1, 1 KO) faces newcomer Jesse Gutierrez of Norwood, Mass.; Warwick, R.I., welterweight Tommy Venticinque (1-2) returns against Toby Oden (1-1) of Milford, Mass.; and Boston featherweight James Grant Murrin (2-0, 2 KOs) battles Brockton, Mass., vet Lionel Young (6-14). Female bantamweights Sarah Payant of West Springfield, Mass., and Janice Meyer of Cortland, N.Y., each make their professional debuts against one another in a three-round bout.
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