PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Sept. 25, 2012) – The only way a professional fighter working full-time in the airline business can soar to new heights is by stepping into the cage against a former Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) veteran.
On Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, Charleston, S.C., middleweight Chris McNally (5-4) will face his toughest test in front of a Pay Per View audience at The Dunkin’ Donuts Center when he battles former UFC title contender Dave Loiseau (20-10, 13 KOs) on the undercard of “Real Pain,” presented by Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports in association with June Entertainment.
The show, highlighted by the professional mixed martial arts debut of former six-time World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) heavyweight champion Dave Bautista, features an undercard stacked with four UFC veterans, including this intriguing showdown between McNally and Loiseau, two fighters at polar opposites in their careers battling for the same prize.
“Dave is definitely the best fighter I’ve faced,” said McNally, who works for The Boeing Company’s material management division. “I believe a win like this could really accelerate my career in a lot of ways and put me a lot closer to where I want to be.
“I want to go global. I want to go as far as this sport can take me. I’m getting older, so I’m at the point where I really want my shot. I’ve been doing this for four years, and my aspirations have always been extremely high. I want it to finally pay dividends.”
A 32-year-old father of four (three daughters and one son), McNally works for the department that stores, supplies and retains parts to build Boeing aircrafts, including, screws, nuts, bolts and all raw materials.
“I kind of got into it by accident in some regard,” he said.
The same could be said for his mixed martial arts career. After four years at Western Maryland College – now known as McDaniel College – where he wrestled for four years and finished fourth in the country among Division III wrestlers as a senior, McNally moved to South Carolina to begin working on his Master’s degree at The Citadel.
While attending night classes, he met a local Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructor who wanted McNally to teach he and his students fundamental wrestling moves. At the time, McNally was helping coach The Citadel’s wrestling team, so he agreed. In exchange, McNally began learning Jiu-Jitsu and eventually started studying other forms of self-defense and hand-to-hand combat, including Muay Thai.
“To me, it was cool,” he said. “I had always wanted to train in martial arts and now I had my chance. Then it just of progressed.”
Three years later, McNally made his amateur debut in mixed martial arts and eventually turned pro in 2010. He’s now 5-4 with all five wins by submission, showcasing his elite wrestling technique. He’ll need every bit of it against Loiseau, a 12-year veteran who, despite being the same age as McNally, has three times the experience inside the cage and once fought for the UFC middleweight championship against Rich Franklin six years ago.
“I’ve always been the underdog,” McNally said. “I had a severe learning disability growing up, which really hurt me my whole life. I almost quit wrestling a number of times, but I eventually worked my way up to No. 4 in the country as a senior. I know if you believe in yourself and don’t quit you can achieve greatness. You just have to be willing to make sacrifices along the way.”
Loiseau, a Montreal native who is a close friend and training partner of UFC welterweight champion George St-Pierre, will enter next week’s fight as the heavy favorite as he continues to work his way back from a knee injury that has kept him out of the cage for more than a year and a half. Next month’s showdown against McNally will be his first since February of 2011.
While his ultimate goal is to get back to the UFC following his release in January of 2010, Loiseau refuses to look ahead – “I’ve made that mistake in the past,” he said – and is instead focusing on the task at hand, which is taking care of business against McNally on Oct. 6.
“I’ve got experience on my side, and that’s something you can’t buy,” he said. “I’m taking it one fight at a time. I’ve been doing this for 12 years and I’ve had a lot of ups and downs, but thankfully I’m 100-percent healthy now.
“I’ve approached fights strategically through the years, which is why longevity is on my side. I live a very clean and healthy lifestyle. I don’t drink or smoke – no drugs. Fighting for another six or seven years is what I fully expect.”
The 13 knockouts on his resume suggest Loiseau would prefer to keep his opponent upright, but the reality is he’s become more well-rounded through the years and is fully prepared to hit the canvas if that’s where the fight ends up.
“There’s a difference between training Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling to defend it and actually embracing the whole art. That’s the biggest change from today compared to years ago,” Loiseau said. “I no longer just train to defend.
“Everyone practices everything these days. There are no more karate guys fighting judo guys. It’s not like that anymore. I’ve noticed [McNally] is strong on the ground. That’s about it.”
The possibility of fighting in front of thousands of fans both at The Dunk and on Pay Per View worldwide does not faze Loiseau, who fought Franklin in front of 9,569 at UFC 58 in Las Vegas and 12,604 fans in Anaheim at UFC 63.
“The UFC is the [National Football League] of MMA,” he said. “This is where the top dogs are at, and it’s a great experience, but it could be at Mandalay Bay or Montreal or California – wherever. A fight is a fight to me.”
“My family is the driving force behind what I do,” said McNally, who celebrated his seventh wedding anniversary this past summer. “I just don’t accept that I can’t make something of this because of all the time and training I’ve put into it and the sacrifices I’ve made. What this has taught me is if I hang on, it’ll pay off. To me it’s not about proving anything. I just want to be as successful as I possibly can.”
The main event of “Real Pain” stars Bautista against fellow newcomer Rashid Evans of Newburgh, N.Y. The show also features former UFC welterweight Marc Stevens (14-7, 6 KOs) of Lorraine, N.Y., who will face dangerous Providence native Luis Felix (7-6, 4 KOs), a winner of back-to-back fights, including a huge win over The Ultimate Fighter: Live quarterfinalist and current UFC contender Joe Proctor in November of 2010.
Stevens, who has also appeared on Bellator Fighting Championships and Strikeforce promotions, was cast on Season 12 of TUF, also known as The Ultimate Fighter: Team GSP vs. Team Koscheck, in 2010. Stevens lost both of his fights on the show, including his re-entry into the house via the wild card selection, but has since won two of his last three bouts and is aiming for another shot with the UFC.
Boston native John “Doomsday” Howard (17-7, 6 KOs), a veteran of seven UFC shows between 2009 and 2011, finds himself in a similar position, though he’s much closer to making it back to the sport’s biggest stage. Since the UFC released him in 2011 following three consecutive losses, Howard has won three in a row and will look to extend that streak Oct. 6 when he faces middleweight Brett Chism (16-11, 7 KOs) of Valdosta, Ga. Chism has won three of his last four fights within the past two years, including two by knockout.
The fourth UFC veteran on next month’s card, welterweight Chad Reiner (29-13, 9 KOs) of Omaha, Neb., will face arguably the stiffest test among his UFC alumni when he battles Pawtucket, R.I., veteran Keith Jeffrey (8-2). Reiner, who fought for the UFC twice in 2007 and also has an appearance with Bellator on his resume, has won seven of his last 10 bouts since 2010, while Jeffrey has won three in a row since returning from a knee injury, including an impressive submission win over Harley Beekman in June. Jeffrey is now ranked No. 5 among welterweights in the northeast.
The remainder of the undercard is littered with Top 10 regional fighters, including a dynamic showdown between No. 1 ranked 145-pounder Saul “The Spider” Almeida (12-2) of Framingham, Mass., and No. 4 ranked Calvin Kattar (12-2, 6 KOs) of Methuen, Mass. Nicknamed “The Boston Finisher,” Kattar has won four consecutive bouts, including big wins over Cody Stevens and Jeff Anderson, while Almeida is looking to bounce back from his loss to Matt Bessette at Bellator’s show in March, which ended his five-fight winning streak.
Providence’s Mike “The Beast” Campbell (11-4, 7 KOs), a former World Extreme Cagefighting contender who is now ranked No. 5 among lightweights in the northeast, will face Philadelphia’s Gemiyale Adkins (7-3, 3 KOs), a former welterweight making his first appearance in the 155-pound division. Campbell won a unanimous decision over Bombsqaud veteran Don Carlo-Clauss in August, giving him back-to-back wins for the first time in more than two years.
Pawtucket’s Todd “The Hulk” Chattelle (10-7, 8 KOs), the former CES MMA middleweight champion, will end his five-month layoff and face Boulder, Colo., native Chandler Holderness (9-3, 4 KOs) in a bout originally scheduled for June before Chattelle suffered an arm injury during training camp.
Chattelle last fought in April when he lost by second-round knockout to Howard, but had won his last four fights leading up to the showdown against “Doomsday.” Holderness, who splits time between training in Colorado and Boston, still fought in June, knocking out Bob Burton at the 2:33 mark of the opening round, which, at the time, was his first win in 11 months. Overall, he’s won four of his last five and is now ranked No. 7 in the middleweight division – five spots behind Chattelle, who is No. 2 behind Howard.
In the 205-pound division, Providence’s Greg Rebello (13-4, 7 KOs), No. 3 in the northeast, will look to get back on track against Chris Guillen (13-12, 1 KO), a St. George, Utah, veteran with a deceiving record. Of Guillen’s 12 losses, four have come against future UFC contenders, including former UFC interim heavyweight champion Shane Carwin, who will face Roy Nelson in The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale in December, and former heavyweight contender Ben Rothwell. Rebello, who has lost two of his last three, is looking for his first win since beating Cody Lightfoot in September of 2011.
“Real Pain” also features another battle between two Top 10 fighters, this time in the heavyweight division with No. 3 Josh Diekmann (12-4, 8 KOs) of Groton, Conn., facing No. 5 Tyler King (4-1, 2 KOs), a former NFL offensive lineman from Norwood, Mass. King and Diekmann actually fought on the same card in separate bouts in Rhode Island back in February; King beat Eric Bedard while Diekmann lost to former UFC contender Josh Hendricks. Neither fighter has fought since then, so the winner could continue climbing the northeast rankings in the heavyweight division.
Also on the undercard, No. 6 ranked middleweight Brennan Ward (3-0, 2 KOs) of Providence will face Shedrick “Chocolate Thunder” Goodridge (2-2) of Rahway, N.J.; Providence’s Nate Andrews (1-0) will battle Leon Davis (2-0) of Springfield, Mass., in an interstate welterweight showdown and bantamweight Andre Soukhamthath (2-1, 1 KO) of Woonsocket, R.I., will face Rob Costa (2-0) of Fall River, Mass.
Tickets are available at www.cesmma.com or www.ticketmaster.com and are priced at $20.00, $35.00, $55.00, $75.00, $125.00 and $250.00. The show will also air live on Direct TV Pay Per View for $29.95 ($39.95 in high definition) beginning at 8 p.m., or through Livestream via www.bautistamma.com in high definition.