This Saturday night is the latest SteelFist MMA pro/am card. Fight card number 54 is at the Rail Event Center in Salt Lake City (235 N. 500 West, SLC 84116. The main event matches Eric Iman, of Team Link Utah, (seen above) as well as a Ben Lomond High School graduate, against One Hit MMA fighter Ben Moa, former collegiate (Utah) and NFL football player. They are fighting for the promotion's professional heavyweight title. The entire card is here.
We've followed Iman's career through the second decade of the 21st century and are pleased to publish this pre-fight interview:
Utah Fight Game: Tell readers a little about yourself. What got you interested in MMA, who are some MMA athletes you admire?
Iman: "I was always interested in martial arts; who growing up didn’t want to be a samurai or a super hero? I started training with Rich Layton in Brazilian jiu-jitsu back in 2006 or so I trained with him for almost a year. Then I started training Muay Thai with Chris Fisher and learned from him for 6 months or so then I moved to train with Mickee Janjira and Danny Sanchez in Clearfield, I also was going to the Muay Thai Institute once a week or so to train with Sakasem. I trained at the Mori academy for a bit then moved to California where I trained under Gonyao, Jongsonan, and Enn at Fairtex in San Francisco for several years. I fought amateur Muay Thai in the Bay Area. When I moved back from California I met Fabio Serao and we have been training together ever since. I help coach him and some students at Team Link Utah in Layton."
Utah Fight Game: Who are some MMA athletes you admire?
Iman: "I really look up to Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone. He is a no-nonsense hard-nosed fighter I respect a lot. I have been really impressed with Anthony Joshua and the fight he had with (Wladimir) Klitschko, I admire a fighter that can weather some damage and show some grit and bite down on his mouth piece and fight on. Robbie Lawler is always entertaining and tough."
Utah Fight Game: What are your strengths, what are your opponent’s strengths and what’s your strategy to come out on top?
Iman: "My striking is definitely my strength, I have worked relentlessly on my takedown defense my whole career so I can keep the fight standing. I have knockout power in my hands and can finish a fight kicking with either leg. I think Ben has a lot of athleticism and I believe he will try to get me to the ground. I will use my defensive wrestling to keep the fight standing and I will always return with my shield or on it. I went the distance with (Maurice) Jackson and felt I won but I know if it's left to the judges it may be a crap shoot."
Utah Fight Game: Where do you hope to be in your career a year from now?
Iman: "As far as my fight career and where it will be in the next year? All I can say is 'You never know how far you can go, until you have gone too far.' -- T.S. Eliot. I am 39 and I am in as good shape as I have ever been. I am definitely towards the end but I have a few left in the tank. A win here will definitely determine what’s next!
We wish the best of luck Saturday night for Iman, and Moa, as well as for all the fighters on the card. In the co-main, Josh Wixom and Cole Shafer fight for the SteelFist amateur middleweight belt. We are intrigued by pro bouts matching Trever Bradshaw with William Dunkle and Jared Toothaker versus Tyson Cowan. One of the amateur bouts matches a returning Carissa Merrill against debuting Brittany Guillemin.
MMA RESULTS LAST WEEKEND OF AREA NOTE
In Mesquite, Nevada, Kaecy Raddon lost a close bout to Rocky Cantu for the TuffNUff amateur lightweight title. This was a closely contested bout that could have gone to both fighters. Raddon finished the fight very strongly. A couple of local amateurs from KOA gym fought on the card. Kelsey Skillman lost a decision and Hector Lopez scored a TKO win.
Brenda Enriquez, a former SteelFist amateur champ who fights pro MMA with Combate Americas is now 1-1 as a pro after losing a decision to Vanessa Rico Fernandez last weekend at Combate 19 in San Antonio, Texas.
And amateur Aubree Thompson, who also won a SteelFist title when she lived in the Top of Utah, stopped Irene White in round one last weekend in Portland, Ore.
AMATEUR BOXING IN SLC
The U.S. Boxing nationals amateur boxing championships and junior open is this week in Salt Lake City. Some local amateurs have competed, including Mateo Holt of Louie's gym, and James Cox and Dylan Bahena, of LightsOut gym..