SALEM — Nate LaMotte, once the top-ranked mixed martial arts welterweight in the Northeast, returns from an 18-month layoff to take on a U.S. Army captain and Iraq War combat veteran in what promises to be an intensely waged battle in the main event of Combat Zone's "Throwdown at The Rock" on Friday night in the Sports Club at Rockingham Park.
"I missed it," said LaMotte, a former New Hampshire state high school wrestling champion and the owner of Manchester's Team Burgess. "For a while there, I had been doing it for so long that I got burned out. But when you belong doing something, after a while away from it, you get hungry for it again. You feel out of place when you're not doing what you belong doing. I've got the hunger back."
Capt. Jason Norwood, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point who is currently stationed at Fort Hood in Texas, is also a veteran of last season's "Bellator Fightmaster" reality TV series. Competing for New Jersey's Legionnaire Fight Team and nicknamed "Righteous," he pits his 12-3 record as a professional against LaMotte (12-6) in the match at 170 pounds.
LaMotte, nicknamed "The Future", has been idle since a June 2012 loss to ranked fighter Bret Oteri.
"I feel great," said LaMotte, who wrestled for Plymouth State University and has been traveling the globe as a referee for the North American Grappling Association. "I had a long, stress-free camp, let all of my injuries heal, and my weight is really low. I'm ready."
Norwood, who was deployed to Iraq at age 25 and spent 2009-2010 as an incumbent commander with 98 soldiers under him, isn't worried that his opponent might have to shake off some ring rust.
"I hope to God that I get the best Nate LaMotte that has ever walked the face of this planet," he said.
Capt. Norwood had to take leave to take this fight, which he contracted for six weeks ago after another scheduled match-up fell through at the last minute. The two-time winner of the All-Army Combatants Championships, a competition featuring the best fighters from bases across the globe, is approaching this match with a strategic battle plan.
165 pounds — Nick Torresi, 0-1 (Methuen, Mass.) vs. Dan Lynch, 0-1 (Spero MMA/Haverhill, Mass.)
190 — Kristian Lombari, 0-2 (Team Fury/Methuen, Mass.) vs. Tim Fields, 1-0 (Team Link/Manchester)
140 — Paulo Alves De Sousa, 0-0 (BMAC) vs. Jordan Yantin, 0-0 (Untamed MMA/Methuen, Mass.)
170 — Justin Boraczek, 1-0 (Spero MMA/Haverhill, Mass.) vs. Nick Alley, 1-0 (Team Link/Pembroke)
185 — Brad O'Brien, 0-0 (Triumph BJJ/Tyngsboro, Mass.) vs. Jake Kohn, 1-0 (CCFA)
185 — Xavier Vargas, 2-2 (Spero MMA/Haverhill, Mass.) vs. Eduardo Bergana 0-2 (Fenix Fight Club) (Chelmsford, Mass.)
170 — Joey Getchell, 0-0 (Intenze MMA/CNBJJ/Methuen, Mass.) vs. Michelle Garcia, 0-0 (Malden, Mass.)
130 — Jack Greene, 2-1 (Cagestrikers/Amesbury, Mass.) vs. Jay Perrin, 3-1 (Triumph BJJ/Hudson)
145 — John Santos, 0-1/5-4 (Team Fury/Derry) vs. Aaron Petrucelli, 2-1 (Mass. BJJ/Methuen, Mass.)
Ray Shawdee, 3-2 (Iron House) vs. Eddie Brito, 3-4 (Team Fury/Methuen, Mass.)
140 — Rodrigo Almeida, 11-2 (CNBJJ/Woburn, Mass.) vs. Walel Watson, 11-6 (Team Hurricane Awesome/San Diego)
170 — Nate Lamotte, 12-6 (Team Burgess/Manchester) vs. Jason Norwood, 12-3 (Legionnaire Fight Team/Moorestown, N.J.)