RYAN HODGE READY TO HEADLINE COMBAT ZONE MAIN EVENT
SALEM, NH- He was fighting in the cage when MMA was billed as no holds barred and before it was a sanctioned sport in most every jurisdiction. But even though Ryan Hodge is well-seasoned and battle-hardened, he’s not overlooking his much younger and less experienced opponent in the main event of Combat Zone 43.
“When you’re in a fight, anything can happen,” said the 32-year-old Hodge (4-7-0), who hails from Gainesville, FL and will travel to Rockingham Park to headline the March Madness card in a middleweight match against Cody Anderson (1-0-0) on March 1. “Guys who don’t have that many fights can come in extremely well conditioned so I am not taking him lightly.”
The 19-year-old Anderson has never tasted defeat, but he has only had one professional start and won it with a first round TKO on November 10 last year. The win stretched his consecutive streak to six as he was victorious in all five of his amateur contests and Anderson, who represents Team Triumph in Nashua, NH, has impressed with his talent and skill.
“I looked at Cody’s fights and he looks like he’s being well trained and is well coached,” said Hodge, who owns F2 Arena with his wife and is the head coach of five other pro and 24 amateur fighters at the gym. “He’s being taught the right things and he’s got some wrestling background so I’m sure he’ll be prepared and ready to go.”
Anderson has been talking on social media about his training schedule and on the night of Feb. 18 tweeted, “I cannot wait to fight. I’m tired of waiting.”
Hodge, whose record belies his ability because he’s been matching up against veteran and very tough UFC fighters, said he’s excited and ready as well. Coming in off three straight losses, he needs to get back on track.
“For that last fight I had in Maine (when he lost by unanimous decision to Luc Bondole on Feb. 2), I was coming out of the holidays and I hadn’t been training all that hard,” he explained. “So I had a month to get in shape. The week before the fight I was cutting weight and that’s where I should have been a month before. I’m in much better condition for this fight. I’ve been pushing it hard.”
At Hodge’s age, professional athletes in many sports can be on the downslide. But he thinks being 32 gives him a decided advantage.
“MMA has not really become a young man’s sport yet. That’s because of the sheer amount of knowledge you have to have to become a well-rounded fighter. It takes time for all of it to set in. Guys in their thirties hit their peak and strength at the point I’m at now. That’s why you see guys in their thirties fighting in the UFC and they are still putting some pretty tough guys away,” said Hodge, who has been training and fighting since 1999.
Hodge, who was raised in Boston before majoring in electrical engineering at the University of Florida, earned a brown belt in Jiu-Jitsu and is accomplished in all of the mixed martial arts.
“I can roll with the black belt J-J performers and I can always fall back on my wrestling background. If you started out as a wrestler, you’re always a wrestler,” he said. “The combination of my wrestling and grappling makes me dangerous when I get an opponent on the ground. I’m as comfortable on my back as I am on top. So whatever position I get into in the cage, I feel comfortable.”
Combat Zone 43 will have 12 competitive and evenly-matched fights, five pro and seven amateur, on the undercard.
The weigh-in will be held in the Sports Club at the racetrack at 5 PM on Thursday, February 28 and the event is free and open to the public. The fighters will be available to meet with their fans and sign autographs.
The entire card for March Madness, which is subject to change, is:
Cody Lightfoot 6-4 (The Shop) vs Dirlei Broenstrup 5-3 (Team Link)
Cody Anderson 1-0 (Team Triumph) vs Ryan Hodge 4-7 (F2 Arena) * Main Event
Rodrigo Almeida 9-2 (IntenZe) vs Josh Parker 4-5 (Independent)
Walter Smith Cotito 1-1 (Team Triumph) vs Ray Wood 1-0 (Young’s)
John Santos 0-0 (Team Fury) vs Joey Gomez 0-0 (Team Triumph)
Ernesto Ornelas 0-2 (Choi’s Institute) vs Jimmy Alexander 0-3 (F2 Arena)
Cody Sargent 1-2 (Balanced Ground MMA) vs Jordan Pope 1-1 (GracieFighter NH)
CJ Ziogas 0-0 (Bill Jones’ Shop) vs Steven Bang 1-1 (CMBJJ)
Dominic Cofone 0-0 (Balanced Ground MMA) vs Matt Denning 0-0 (CMBJJ)
Dan Dinan 0-0 (Team Pitbull/BTT) vs Josh Batchelder 0-0 (USA Karate)
JT Harold 1-1 (Team Pitbull/BTT) vs Tollison Lewis 2-4 (Balanced Ground MMA)
Cheyenne Vazquez 1-1 (IntenZe) vs Jacob Cameron 0-0 (Independent)
Crowsneck Boutin 2-2 (Independent) vs Branden Gibbs 1-0 (CMBJJ)