Both fighters have been on a tear recently, so let’s not waste time and get to the reasons why you should care about this fight.
5 – Legacy of the title
The featherweight title is one that has been held by two fighters in the history of Pinnacle FC – Mark Cherico and Dominic Mazzotta. They’re probably not going to face off against each other anytime soon in anything other than thumb wrestling, so here we are trying to find the next champion to win this title and catapult to the next level. Both De Jesus and Warr have been on a tear over the past few years and could use a bump winning a marquee title like Pinnacle’s.
4 – The streaks
One of the things that’s so fascinating about this fight to me is the almost perfect parallels between the careers of De Jesus and Warr. Both were sort of vagabond fighters before finding their current teams and really taking it to the next level with the situations that fit each guy perfectly.
De Jesus was born in the Dominican Republic and started his early career at American Top Team while living in Florida. After getting a 4-5 start to his pro career, he made the move to Pittsburgh in 2016 and began training at The Academy MMA. Since that time training with some of the top fighters in the Steel City, he’s gone 4-1 including a recent win over Josh Rohler at Honor FC 4. After the win over Rohler, he mentioned that his team has helped him blossom into the fighter we see today.
Warr has had a similar path. He started his career with a 3-7 record after moving all over and training with different gyms. In 2016, he moved to Kentucky, eventually joined AFS Academy in Richmond, and has since racked up an 8-1 record including winning the Hardrock MMA featherweight title in February over “Ultimate Fighter” veteran B.J. Ferguson.
3 – The camps
Folks are probably pretty familiar with The Academy MMA, now owned by Khama Worthy. Since its inception as Fight Club Pittsburgh it has produced some of the best fighters in the Steel City, including Worthy, Mark Cherico, Cody Garbrandt, Adam Milstead, and more. De Jesus really found a home with the team and it has shown in his performances recently.
AFS Academy is one of Kentucky’s top gyms, with Scott Elliott producing some of the top talent in the state. From Gina Elliott and Adam Fritz, to Warr himself, the gym is known for its level of fighters.
2 – Warr’s story
Not many people knew much about Warr when he showed up on the scene in Kentucky a couple of years ago, but he’s made his name by taking on all comers, and defeating most of the top talent in the Bluegrass State. He’s also lived up to his “Bad Boy” moniker by calling out opponents and just being a great heel.
But not many people realized that he was homeless for a time to help support his training and fighting career. We profiled his story leading up to the Ferguson fight earlier this year.
1 – The matchup
At the risk of simplifying this fight too much, this is your classic striker vs. grappler. De Jesus grew up on the streets boxing and then found ATT to help hone his craft. He’s a crafty striker with a style built perfectly for MMA. He likes to throw kicks although that may not be part of the gameplan here against a wrestler like Warr. He’s also a blue belt in jiu-jitsu, and has shown adept takedown defense against other top wrestlers like Cody Stevens and Josh Rohler. Quite simply, if he can keep it on his feet, this will be his fight.
Warr is a classic blast double wrestler who can put you on your back and keep you there, blowing you up with elbows on the ground in the process. He can take the will of his opponents and has against multiple foes. He’s also got a slick jiu-jitsu game training under Elliott with a 10th Planet background, and he has a couple of submissions on his resume recently. He uses his power to set up takedowns, very similar to the way that Cherico has done in the past. He has a gameplan and typically sticks with it, despite his opponents knowing exactly what he wants to do.