SALEM — Calvin Kattar may be one victory away from advancing to the big stage of the UFC or Bellator MMA, but he has a formidable opponent standing in his way: undefeated Brazilian Gabriel Baino.
The battle between the two highly regarded featherweights is the marquee event for the next mixed martial arts card at Rockingham Park, Friday night’s Combat Zone 44.
Winner of his last five fights, Kattar (13-2-0) has notched six KO/TKOs, three submissions, and four decisions, three of which were unanimous.
Baino (5-5-0) won one of his fights by unanimous decision; none of the others lasted through the second round.
A lightweight bout between two fighters stepping up into the professional ranks for the first time is billed as the co-main event. Wakefield resident John Healey of Team Iron Jaw brings his 4-3-0 record as an amateur into the cage against Laconia’s Mike Burke (5-1-0 as an amateur) of Lakes Region Valley Tudo.
“I know he likes to guillotine (choke hold) people and throw in some strikes, but my game is different,” said Healey, 22, who decided he wanted to be a mixed martial artist at age 12 after watching Chuck Liddell knock out Tito Ortiz in UFC 47.
“I’m a boxer and a kick boxer. I’ve got great hands and a great ground game with my Jui-Jitsu, Muay Thai and wrestling. I’m a complete fighter.”
The main and co-main events will follow seven amateur matches. One of the more intriguing is between Dominic Cofone, whose record is unblemished in three fights, against Kirk Florian (0-1-0), the younger brother of former UFC star and current UFC sportscaster Kenny Florian.
“When I fight, people do expect a lot from me because of my last name,” said the 29-year-old Florian, “but I’m the youngest of six kids, so it’s been that way since I was a little kid.
“This will be my first fight in New Hampshire, and I don’t know all that much about my opponent. He’s undefeated, so he’s definitely someone to be taken seriously. But I’ve been training well, and I’m ready.”
Doors for Combat Zone 44 open at 6:30 p.m., and the first fight is scheduled for 8 p.m. Tickets, which may be purchased at www.combatzonemma.com or by calling 360-3846, are $40 for general admission, $50, $75, $90 and, for ringside seating, $120.
COMBAT ZONE 44 CARD
(Subject to change)
At Rockingham Park, Salem
145 —Calvin Kattar (13-2), Wai Kru vs. Gabriel Baino (5-0), Team Link
155 — John Healey (0-0), Team Iron Jaw, vs. Mike Burke (0-0), Lakes Region Valley Tudo
195 — Paul Gaffney (1-0), Team Link, vs. Gerry Lyndon Wells (0-0)
185 — Kristian Lombardi (0-1), Team Fury, vs. Dan Connaughton (0-0), DefensiveEdge/Best Way
155 — Tollison Lewis (3-6 ), Balanced Ground MMA, vs. Wayne Ahlquist (1-5), Lakes Region Valley Tudo
150 — Dominic Cofone (3-0 ), Balanced Ground MMA, vs. Kirk Florian (0-1), Florian Martial Arts Center
145 — Scott Gorgone (2-0), Mass BJJ vs. David Sousa (1-1), IntenZe
140 — Fernanda Arujo (0-2 ), Defensive Edge, vs. Kim Russell (0-0), Balanced Ground
140 — Jay Perrin (2-1), Team Triumph, vs. Matt Denning (1-1), CMBJJ