The Wish List: Ohio Valley fights we’d like to see in every division in 2017
Flyweight – Eric Moell (8-3) vs. Cody Gabelman (5-2)
These two guys train just a few miles away from each other in Cincinnati, and to my knowledge don’t cross-train. Oh and they’re both up and comers in the same division. Alliance MMA’s Moell looked better than ever in his lone fight of 2016 – a submission over James London at Hardrock MMA in July. G-Force’s Gabelman also had just one fight last year, a submission over Zakk Smith at Absolute Action MMA. If Hardrock MMA is looking for a main event for their May show at Turfway, it doesn’t get any bigger than this.
Bantamweight – Dominic Mazzotta (12-1) vs. Jerrell Hodge (4-1)
Sure, Mazzotta should be in the UFC, and we’re pretty surprised he isn’t already. But if he doesn’t get signed to fight in the Octagon early this year, this would be an interesting fight for him to take. It could be billed as a guy whose only loss is to Cody Garbrandt against a guy who knocked him out as an amateur. Hodge has been super hot over the past year, moving his winning streak to four with wins over Isaiah Chapman and Brandon Seyler. Mazzotta has now won eight in a row and has more belts than he knows what to do with.
Featherweight – Mark Cherico (11-1) vs. Adam Townsend (16-4)
This one might have to be at a catchweight of 150 pounds, but I’m sure both of these guys would just be willing to fight at any weight for a top-flight matchup like this. Cherico has looked great since returning from retirement, picking up two wins. He says he wants to stay busy in 2017, and is already lining up fights. Townsend still has to fight his tournament finale in China, but this could be a great fight between perhaps the two most marketable fighters in the area.
Lightweight – Nick Browne (7-0) vs. Devonte Smith (4-0)
Smith is fresh off of being named the 2016 BluegrassMMA Pro Fighter of the Year, and perhaps nobody in the area is hotter than him right now. Browne had a relatively quiet 2016, fighting just once, a win over Troy Lamson for King of the Cage. Smith has a tough fight against John Gunther later this month, but if he passes that test, this would be a great fight to make.
Welterweight – Que Parks Jr. (6-0) vs. Chris Curtis (14-5)
Parks is undefeated with six finishes, but we’d like to see him take a step up in competition against the veteran Curtis. If he really wants to prove that he has next level talent, then these are the fights he should be taking. For Curtis, it would be nice to see him fighting near home again after he spent 2016 fighting for CES and in Florida.
Middleweight – Travis Davis (4-0) vs. Sid Wheeler (5-2)
Davis reeled off four impressive submission wins to start his pro career, and now he’s ready for a big test against a talented striker like Wheeler. Davis was slated to kick off his 2017 this weekend, but his fight wasn’t approved. Wheeler has dropped two straight, but a win over a fellow up and comer like Davis would put him right back on the map.
Light Heavyweight – Dan Spohn (14-5) vs. Brian Rogers (12-9)
I shouldn’t even have to sell this fight to you. Two of the most talented strikers to ever come out of Ohio MMA, this would be the biggest fight in the Buckeye State in some time. I’ve always wanted to see how Rogers’ raw power would match up against Spohn’s counter-punching precision, and with both guys currently unsigned, this may be the perfect time to finally get this dream fight made.
Heavyweight – Don’Tale Mayes (2-1) vs. Jeff Hughes (6-1)
Both guys are coming off of tough losses, but they’re still the two best heavyweight prospects in the area. Mayes had a controversial disqualification in his RFA debut, despite the fact that he was dominating the fight. Hughes is looking to bounce back from a tough TKO loss against Spohn, and this would be a good place to start. This fight could headline any marquee in the Ohio Valley.
Women – Jan Finney (9-11) vs. Evva Johnson (2-1)
After a rough few years, Finney reeled off three straight wins in 2016 over tough competition. She proved that she’s not done yet, and her talented striking is fun to watch. Johnson returned from a two-year layoff in December and looked better than ever, and this would be a bit-time women’s fight to make in 2017.
We’d also love to hear your input! Which fights would you like to see in 2017?