SALEM, NH- Lucas Cruz uses patience as one of his most effective tactics in his job as a Boston night club bouncer, but it will not be in his arsenal when he steps into the cage to battle Jeff Anderson in the main event of Combat Zone MMA’s “Summer Beatdown” on Friday, June 27 at Rockingham Park.
“No way. In the fight I’ve got to be aggressive and bring it the whole time,” said the 21-year-old Brazilian native, who lives in Somerville, MA and trains with Carlos Neto BJJ in that city.
Cruz (8-2), nicknamed “The Golden Boy” and ranked #5 in the Northeast in the lightweight division, never knew the bitter taste of defeat as an amateur or a pro until his last two efforts, when the judges ruled against him by a unanimous and then a split decision. He understands the importance of halting his skid.
“I definitely need a win. Having these two losses made me see that there is no playing around if you want to get somewhere in this sport. You have to win and I am not going to lose again. Winning is the only option,” said Cruz, who has been training in the mixed martial arts since the age of 12.
The 35-year-old Anderson (8-8) also needs to get back on the winning track after dropping his last four matches. Nonetheless, the record of the “Candyman” is deceptive.
“We don’t take tomato fights. We’ll take on anybody,” said Humberto Nezes, his manager and coach at B&F boxing in Pawtucket, RI. “His problem is that he never took easy fights. He always felt that win or lose, he wanted to take on guys who were equal to him or better. That’s why he doesn’t have a perfect record. But he fights well. Always.”
Anderson certainly competes with toughness and has plenty of grit. When he last fought for Combat Zone, which is the longest running MMA promotion in New England, on July 29, 2011 and lost by split decision to Team Triumph MMA’s John Ortolani, he went the distance despite suffering a broken arm.
“He’s definitely a tough dude. I know that. But I’m not giving up either,” said Cruz.
Anderson took 12 months off following that loss, and comes into this fight after another year’s hiatus. Nezes doesn’t expect him to have any ring rust in this battle at 155 pounds.
“Jeff looks better than ever now,” he said. “He wasn’t with me for a couple of years. I had him doing a lot of boxing and ground work. After he went with somebody else and he lost his touch in boxing. Now he’s back strong again with his boxing technique and doing good ground work as well.”
Cruz said he’s ready for anything Anderson plans, including his trademark guillotine choke holds.
“The strongest point of my game is stand-up and on the ground. Whatever he throws, I’m comfortable with. This guy is a boxer and I’ve definitely needed to work on my boxing for this fight,” said Cruz, who has been training twice daily while in camp for the past two months. “He likes to hold the stand-up and he goes for the takedown and likes to hold his opponent until the time goes by.”
Anderson stands 5’11” and has a longer reach than Cruz. But Cruz has a 14-year age advantage.
“Age doesn’t matter to us. Of course the kid is going to have a lot of energy. It depends more on how hard a person works at this,” said Nezes, who will celebrate his birthday on fight night. “When you go in the ring you’re by yourself. It’s you and your opponent, that’s it. It all comes down to how hard you’ve prepared and how bad you want it.”
The Anderson-Cruz match-up in the top billed of the four pro and seven amateur evenly-matched bouts on the card figures to live up to lofty expectations.
“Jeff always gives a good fight, win or lose. The crowd will get its money’s worth. That’s for sure,” Nezes promised.
The undercard also holds a great deal of intrigue as exciting young fighter Jay Perrin (0-0), the top-ranked amateur (5-1) in the Northeast in the flyweight class, makes his professional debut against Quincy Humphry (0-0), who hails from Allson, MA and fights for Wai Kru in Boston.
Perrin is from Hudson, NH and represents Team Triumph MMA in Nashua, which will also send out Walter Smith Cotito (2-2) in another pro match-up at 145 pounds against first time pro Rodrigo Faria (0-0) from Windham, ME.
There will even be a battle between two women when Kim Russell (1-1) and Rebecca Moore (0-0) go at it in the 138 lb. division.
Doors open at 6:30 pm and the first of the 10 pro and amateur fight taps off at 8 PM. Tickets are $40, $50, $75, $90 and $120 may be ordered through www.czmma.com or calling co-promoter Jamison Kattar at 978-361-677. Parking is free.
The weigh-in will be held on Thursday, June 26 in Rockingham Park’s Sports Club and the event is free and offers the public the chance to meet the fighters and their camps.
The full card, which is subject to change is:
155lbs Lucas Cruz (8-2) Somerville, MA vs. Jeff Anderson (8-8) Lincoln, RI
145lbs Walter Smith-Cotito (2-2) Milford, NH vs. Rodrigo Faria (0-0) Windham, ME
125lbs Jay Perrin (0-0) Hudson, NH vs. Quincy Humpfry (0-0) Allston, MA
145lbs Austin Davis (0-0) Bethlehem, NH vs. John Santos (1-1) Londonderry, NH
170lbs Chris Perrin (1-1) Hudson, NH vs. Mike Reutz (2-1) Hooksett, NH
170lbs Justin Boraczek (2-0) Haverhill, MA vs. Scott Coburn (0-1) Haverhill, MA
138lbs Kim Russell (1-1) Windham, ME vs. Rebecca Moore (0-0) Marlborough, MA
145lbs LJ Scarcella (1-0) Somerville, MA vs. Mike Scappachio (0-0) Plaistow, NH
185lbs Kristian Lombari (0-4) Methuen, MA vs. Thomas Cheviot (0-0) Allston, MA
155lbs Brian Cosco (1-0) Revere, MA vs. James Squires (1-0) Somerville, MA
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