Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Nichole Castillo Interview
Photos 1: ISO Photo Studio
Photos 2-3: NAAFS
For many, the highlight of the year for Ohio MMA is the NAAFS Fight Night in the Flats card. For Fight Night, the NAAFS pulls out all the stops putting together a card with many of the top pros in the area and many of the top amateurs. This card features two title fights with Hector Urbina taking on Nick Duell and Terry Blackwell facing Torrance Taylor as well as a main event featuring possibly the areas most popular fighter, Jessica Eye facing Carina Damm, not to mention several other of the areas most popular fighters in action. As per usual, I got to talk with Matchmaker Nichole Castillo about the card. Also, for more on this event, check out Pro WMMA Now and their interviews with both Nichole as well as main event participant Jessica Eye.
Q: For people not familiar or newer fans, can you just explain the significance of Fight Night in the Flats for the NAAFS?
A: This is number nine we are going on now. It was the biggest event to hit Ohio when it first came out. Nothing that large had hit Ohio on the MMA stage. The venue is bar-none the most amazing venue when you walk in. It has that atmosphere where everyone walks in and says "wow". It is right on the water, it is lit up, there is a stage, a cage, bleachers that when you are in the cage, it seems like the bleachers go to the sky. They hold back on nothing. For the fighters, they are all excited when they get in that cage, the sounds, everything is more amazing. Let alone the card we put on for Fight Night in the Flats. It is one of those cards that we want to be spectacular. I think every year we proved ourselves to do that. It is funny, our March 30th card people said it was a Fight Night in the Flats card. People don't even refer to amazing cards as great cards, they call it a Fight Night in the Flats card.
Q: The amateur fights alone would make a big show. is it fair to say the winners of the amateur fights will take the lead as far as rankings for Night of Champions?
A: Oh yeah, it would definitely be fair to say. Look at them, no one with a minimum of three fights on this one. I had to scale back on how many amateurs we have on this one because of all the pros and two titles, we don't wanna drag it out for two long. A lot of these amateurs were former title holders already and coming back from winning it. It makes it fun to have them come back and make a statement that "this is my weight class, this is my house." I like to see the new kids coming in and trying to beat them to. Everyone who walks out with the win is walking out with the top rankings.
Q: One fight I am psyched for is Sammy Callari against Izzy Williams. I bring this one up because it is the opening fight and will be very exciting. Does this fight give everyone that incentive to make sure you are there on time?
A: Yeah! That is actually my pick for amateur Fight of the Night. Both of them are very explosive fighters who love to strike. It is going to be fast paced and keep moving however long it goes. Sometimes you get a feel that a fight isn't going three rounds, you get feelings. You don't know who will win but you know if it will end, but with this one, I have no clue what is gonna happen and that excites me the most. The love to strike and are wild on their feet. With both having fights with us, they are definitely front runners for the rankings in their class.
Q: The amateur Main Event is R.J. Buck and Darryl Davis. R.J. has to me been so impressive of late. How impressed have you been with him?
A: R.J. kind of hit a slump there. I think taking time off from the sport and getting with a new team kind of re-energized him. It's the same R.J. Buck that I remember seeing when we first brought him to the NAAFS. I think we are seeing that out of him now and his level of talent is progressing. He is getting so much more technical with what he does. I think this year we will see him keep progressing and see how far he can really go now that he has a good team behind him. he trains hard. On the other half, Darryl Davis, I have been interested in bringing him in for four or five months now and it hasn't worked out. I am really excited to bring him into the mix, he is very talented. The NAAFS fans will enjoy having him on our card.
Q: To show how stacked the pro card is, George Comer and Brian Camozzi is the opener. George has looked really good since the loss to Clint Musser and while Camozzi may not be as known around here, he is very skilled, how big is this fight for George?
A: I think this is a huge fight for George. That fight could main event any lesser show. George being a two time amateur champ for NAAFS and doing very well minus the blemish in the Musser fight. That fight was a close fight, it isn't like he got killed. It is huge for him. It is that "where am I at in my career now, am I ready for the next tier of fighters or am I here where I should be." Same thing for Brian, like you said, he is very skilled and fought a lot of talent, but never traveled this far to fight. Him coming here is a great thing. Everyone knows the name Camozzi, between him doing well and his brother Chris being in the UFC. Even though are fans may not know Brian, they are familiar with name. It is gonna be an interesting fight.
Q: You also have Max Grishin against Ray Lopez. Max was super impressive in his NAAFS debut and Lopez is a good fighter who we have seen is hard to finish. If Max were to get a finish, how big would that be?
A: I think it would be huge. Ray has been around and fought the whose who list. He has a great pedigree. The John Hawk fight, he could not be finished, no one knew the first exchange, Ray broke his hand. he fought that entire fight with a broken hand and couldn't be finished. Yeah, he lost, but he only had one hand and couldn't be finished. Max was very impressive. He is an electric fighter. Max is not in there to play, he wants to knock you out and get out of the cage. They are both nice and funny guys. A win for Lopez would jump start him back to getting towards the top, a win for Max and we probably wont see him around here anymore, I think he would move on to the next level.
Q: A lot of times promotions bring someone in to fight the hometown guy and then he's gone. You are bringing Ray back quick, is that a sign everyone was impressed?
A: I knew who Ray was from back on the King of the Cage circuit. I had a good feel for who he was. We signed him to a two fight deal instead of a one fight deal, he is talented and I wanted to see him come in and do well. I don't think he got to show the skill he had because of the broken hand. It will be nice to see him come in and show what he can do.
Q: Also, we have Jason Dent against Andrew Osborne and Forrest Petz against Chris Curtis. Forrest and Jason go way back with NAAFS. How happy are you to be able to get them back in an NAAFS cage?
A: it is nice the see the NAAFS veterans come back. Not just NAAFS, but both of them are multiple UFC vets. It isn't just a name NAAFS fans know, but vets the entire world knows. For the NAAFS fans, you get some old school fans that don't come out as much for the new blood. They see those names who started out with us and get excited. It brings the old school and new school fans together. Everyone wants to see what these guys are still doing and it is great to have them both on the same event.
Q: On the flip side for Chris and Andrew, those are nice names to put on a resume, how big would wins be for them?
A: For either of them it would be huge. For Chris a win over a UFC vet would be something huge. A win for him is even bigger than for Osborne over Dent. Chris is also bumping up a weight class to fight Petz. Him winning would be a bigger thing for him. Osborne keeps getting better. His fight with Joe Heiland was a close fight that he took on short notice. I would have loved to see if he didn't take it on short notice with a quick weight cut what he could have done. It is part of why when we have guys come in and get injured right away or take it on short notice, I wanna bring them back. When they show all that heart, I wanna see them come back.
Q: We have two title fights. First Terry Blackwell and Torrance Taylor. I explained this fight to someone as a potential striking clinic, is that accurate?
A: It is for the interim title. Daniel Strauss still has our title at 155. As of now, he will be at the event and commentating this fight. It is a little haiku that people didn't know he was coming. We are excited to have him back as a guest. He gets to come watch who he will be fighting. With that said, he knows who both are and if fans don't they should look them up. It will be a clinic of all things. Both are traditional martial artists. They have known each other and fought on the same circuit since the beginning. They are friends, they know each other. Not best friends, but been on the same shows, they send fighters back and fourth. Terry just did an interview and is a corrections officer, a kid was getting out and served his time and wanted to get into martial arts and Terry called up Torrance and sent him there. They will have respect for each other but both want the same thing. They have a great pedigree on the ground but both like to stand and bang so it will be interesting to see if either takes it to the ground. Terry is more classic with his standing and Torrance has more of the spinning, shock and awe moves. This is gonna be electric.
Q: The other is Hector Urbina against Nick Duell. Everyone will be screaming for Nick, but last time that happened, Hector kind of spoiled the party, so wouldn't it be foolish to think this is just an easy shot for Nick to get the title back?
A: Since Hector fought for us in West Virginia, a lot of our Ohio fans didn't see it. He was our middleweight champ, he stole that title from Travis Clark and did it within sixteen seconds. It was so fast, there was a guy screaming behind me, I looked back because they were starting a fight, I looked forward and the fight was over. Hector is no joke. I have known him awhile. I met him helping with Bellator. I got to see him fight and we talked of bringing him here. He said "if you ever bring me in, I will not disappoint" and he did what he said he was gonna do and he won quick. Anyone overlooking Hector, you might wanna do your homework. Hector has been around a long time. He has gone to American Top Team now and I think we will see an even better Hector. I am excited to see how he does at a lighter weight. Nick is an NAAFS veteran. He has had this title before. He feels he is on right now. Nick knows, you can tell when you talk to him, I have spoken to him and he sounds ready to go. It will be a great fight for the fans.
Q: The Main Event is Jessica Eye against Carina Damm. Jess has been on a roll but this could be her toughest test couldn't it?
A: I think this is her hardest fight to date. If you look Carina up, she has fought the whose who list. She has fought everyone. There aren't that many left. Jessica is just one that is left. I am a fan of Carina's. She is from American Top Team also. I am honored and happy to have her come out. Jessica is Miss. NAAFS. She started with us. I am so proud of how far she has gotten. I love watching her fight. They are both amazing and we couldn't have a better headliner. The entire world is watching this one. We are thankful to Bellator for letting us do this, this is my dream fight come true.
Q: At the end of the night, what is fight of the night?
A: I cant pick one, there are so many good ones. I think for amateurs it will be Sammy and Izzy, I don't know why. For the pros, there are so many, I cant pick one.
Q: Anything I missed?
A: Nope, I think you got everything.