Pro MMA Xplode Fight Series 2, the battles continue

Light heavyweight Matt Lagler, getting ready for his title fight against Carlos Baruch of City Boxing, takes a moment out of his busy schedule for a photo. Photo: J. Wyatt

Last week it was heavyweights Cain Velasquez versus Junior Dos Santos of the UFC representing the Mixed Martial Arts community on Fox Sports.

Saturday evening, the action will be closer to home with two championship fights and a super fight on the bill at the Valley Center Pavilion in Valley Center, CA on the Xplode Fight Series, XFS2. The gentlemen in the 170 pound, light heavyweight title fight are Matt Lagler of Undisputed North Park and Carlos Baruch Ferreira of City Boxing. And yet this is just one of the many explosive bouts being featured.

What makes the Lagler versus Baruch bout standout are the principles involved. Lagler, who turns 32 on Sunday, November 20, has never flinched from fighting anyone. The tougher they are, the better he likes it. And don’t be fooled by his pedestrian 6-5-1 record, those wins and losses have come against only the top Mixed Martial Artists.

His only concern is getting better and being the best. In high school, he dominated CIF wrestling for three straight years. Even though he’s been a standout at every sport he’s played, the fighting sports have always been his favorite. Despite working two jobs, and fathering two daughters, he began to run more and stay longer at his home gym in North Park. His click of fellow warriors have been keying on his maturation.

In his last match at Valley Center, he lost to Jake Mapes, a full-time instructor at The Arena MMA Gym. Wanting to learn from his mistakes, he took instruction and additional sparring at The Arena.

For Saturday’s event, the matchmaker had to call him four times to tell him his opponent had changed. First up they had him fighting the Strikeforce knockout artist Keith “KO Kid” Berry. After that match-up fell through they had Manny Murrillo of Team Quest lined-up. Murrillo had recently won the Epic Fighting Middleweight Title. After that matchup failed to materialize, they went with Brodie Farber of FU2 Riverside Submission, another very tough pro. After preparing for Farber, another change was made.

It was one of those situations where the opponent kept getting tougher and tougher. Then late last week, he learned he would have to drop 20 pounds in order to fight the legend, Baruch. As of Thursday, he still needs to drop an additional six pounds.

In most every photo of Baruch (R) you will see him unselfishly assisting either a pro boxer, a Muay Thai fighter or a fellow Mixed Martial Artist. (L to R) Mark Dion, owner of City Boxing, Denis Grachev, Boxer and Muay Thai Champion, Manny Melchor, former boxing champion and now trainer, and Baruch, MMA & Brazilian Jiu Jitsu coach and world class fighter. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Carlos Baruch Ferreira is a well known instructor at City Boxing Downtown San Diego by way of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Over nine years ago, he received a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from the legendary Carlson Gracie. The man known simply as Baruch is a seasoned competitor who’s frequently called upon to train fighters in all the top MMA organizations.

To hone his craft he’s trained with people like former UFC Light Heavyweight Champ – Vitor Belfort, current UFC Middleweight Champ – Anderson Silva, former PrideFC Heavyweight Champ – Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, former BJJ Mundial Champ Amaury Bitteti, and current WEC Middleweight Champ – Paulo Filho.

Baruch’s last fight lasted all of 37 seconds. Shortly after the signal to start, his victim, Robert Hefel of Dirty Tactics MMA went down with a thud. Seconds later came the rear naked choke at the :37 mark of the first round.

Allan Roach (R) poses for a photo with an equipment supplier at LA Boxing in Carlsbad. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Another colorful personality on Saturday’s fight card is 30 year-old Alan Roach (5-2). He’s now a part of the fraternity of Traveling Coaches that drives around to the various gyms to either coach or man the front counter. He might be at your gym on Monday and Wednesday, then he’s off to a second gym on Tuesday and Thursday and possibly a third gym on Saturday.

When you see Mr. Roach, you’ll have to agree he’s colorful. How colorful? Over the majority of his body are tattoos, even the top of his head; the tattoos that have you gawking as if you were looking at a famous painting.

When it comes to the Mixed Martial Arts, he’s what you’d call a late bloomer. He did start to wrestle in the 7th grade, and then along with friends moved on to the other fighting sports. His formal training didn’t come until much later.

Middleweight boxer Danny “Dynamite” Perez is his boxing coach and every fight that Roach won has been by knockout. For this reason, Roach is considered a formidable striker.

Jeff Clark, a coach at San Diego’s Arena MMA Gym, has also been a big help. Clark makes up the strategy for each of his fights, watches the film of his opponents and then devises the strategy. Clark does this for a lot of MMA fighters and his reputation for being a great game planner has grown.

The main event features Brady Harrison going up against Masonori Kanehara. Also on the fight card, Briggs Foreman, the son of Lance Foreman, is making his debut. The mention of the name Foreman evokes thoughts of the Lions Den, Ken Shamrock, Reno, and additional fighters from Wanderlei Silva’s gym, the families of MMA.

Fighters have already started to talk the talk: Derek Anderson of Xplode MMA, who won his debut last time out, is anxious to take Dominque Chisem to school. Lightweight Edgar Cardenas (3-1) says he’s ready to make his opponent, Joe Neri, suffer.


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