Ring of Combat will be hosting its 47th event on Jan. 24. The card, which takes place at the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City, N.J., features five title fights, as well as an exciting undercard.

If you’re thinking, ‘Who cares about another regional card with a bunch of no-names fighting over belts that don’t mean anything?’ then let me hit you with this fun fact: if a fighter has held a championship in the Ring of Combat organization, there’s an extremely high probability that you have seen that fighter compete under the UFC banner. These former champions make up part of the 80 ROC alumni that have gone on to compete on MMA’s biggest stage.

Those who make the transition aren’t one-and-done fighters either. Many are or have been UFC mainstays. There’s Pete Sell, Uriah Hall and Costas Philippou, all of whom held ROC gold at one point in time. Former UFC champions Frankie Edgar and Matt Serra, plus current UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman, all have competed in president Lou Neglia’s show. In fact, Edgar, Serra and Weidman will all be in attendance on Friday night.

“I’m very happy that these fighters remember where they got started,” said Neglia in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “[Alumni] come to my shows all the time to support Ring of Combat and the fighters in Ring of Combat. They come as a friend, not as a guest appearance, but as a friend to support the place that they started.”

Neglia’s focus has always been on showcasing new talent, and that’s what he wants to continue to do in the future. He’s very proud of the fact that so many fighters got their start in his promotion, and he understands his purpose on the MMA landscape.

“I’ve been approached by other organizations, two big organizations that are now defunct,” said the ROC president. “They had $30 million behind them, and they wanted to team up with me because of the reputation of Ring of Combat. I asked them what their business plan was, and it was to beat the UFC. And I said, ‘I’m not interested in that.’ I think the UFC is the World Series of MMA. It’s the highest level you could be, and if I were a fighter, I would want to be in the UFC.”

Ring of Combat attracts fighters not only from all over the country, but from all over the world. Even if it’s an expense for a fighter to come compete, Neglia explained, it’s worth the risk to get good match-ups and more exposure.

“It’s like The Beatles,” said Neglia. “They could have stayed in England and been famous, but they wanted to get global recognition and attention, and they came to the United States. And I think these fighters also want to come from their country to get global attention.”

Neglia’s promotion has reached a level of credibility where even if an ROC fighter’s record isn’t perfect, promotions like the UFC know that he has faced much tougher competition than he would on most other regional circuits.

“It’s who you’ve fought and how you fought that matters, and the UFC is very in tune with the knowledge of that,” said Neglia. “They’ve taken fighters from my show who are 7-4, and guys that are 10-0 [from different promotions] can’t get in the UFC.

“Guys will sometimes call me up looking for an easy fight, and I tell them, ‘Call me back when you want a real fight, because great fights make great fighters.’ Weidman would fight anyone, anytime, and those are the guys to go on to have success in MMA.

“I tell other guys, ‘What? Do you want to date the guy or do you want to fight him?’”

Friday night’s main event is a fight between Pat Defranco and Chris Wade for the vacant ROC welterweight title. Neglia believes that either of these men have the talent to compete under the Zuffa banner. The previous champion, Ryan LaFlare, is now 3-0 in the UFC and 10-0 overall.

On the undercard, Neglia says to check out the undefeated lightweight Frankie Perez, who is battling Mike Santiago for the No. 1 contender spot. There’s also an exciting bantamweight match-up between Jose Villanueva and Leodegario Muniz, plus many more.

“Don’t miss this show,” said Neglia. “It’s one of my best Ring of Combats ever.”

Lou would like to let fans know that tickets are available for ROC 47 on the Ring of Combat website, Ticketmaster and at the Tropicana Casino box office. The show is also being streamed live on GoFightLive. He would like to thank Lombardi’s Pizzeria, BoneBreakerz Clothing and Everlast. Follow Ring of Combat and Neglia on Twitter at: @ringofcombat and @LouNeglia

About The Author

Zach Miller
Staff Writer

Zach is a Boston native and has had a fascination with martial arts since playing Mortal Kombat at five years old. He was introduced to MMA after watching The Ultimate Fighter 5: Team Pulver vs. Team Penn. A recent graduate of the University of New Hampshire, Zach seeks to one day become a full-time MMA journalist. In addition to watching the sport, he has also trained in Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu, kickboxing, and tae kwon do. Zach has also written for NortheastMMA.