SALEM — Four years ago, Brent Kinberger reluctantly walked away from mixed martial arts fighting to take care of his family, including his ailing wife, and his out-of-the-cage career. But as his wife’s health improved and his family situation stabilized, the temptation to return became too great to resist.
Friday night, Kinberger resumes his professional fighting career in Combat Zone MMA’s 14-event “All or Nothing” card at the Sports Club at Rockingham Park.
“I’ve been fighting off the temptation to get back in the cage for a while,” Kinberger said. “I’m excited about this fight.”
An electrical engineer with Manchester-based technology company DEKA Research and Development and formerly the top-ranked lightweight in the Northeast, Kinberger takes a 5-3 record into his 155-pound bout with Mervin Rodriguez (5-7) of Newark, N.J.
It’s a fight made possible, Kinberger said, by his wife’s successful bout with leukemia and battles through chemotherapy and a bone-marrow transplant.
“I’m only fighting because I enjoy it. I do it for fun. I’m not looking to become a full-time professional fighter, but I enjoy the whole process,” he said. “During my time away, I never relinquished the thought that I would still fight. I never assumed I was done. It was a matter of stability in my life. Now my household is good, my wife is good, my kids are good, and my job is good. I’m training a lot, and I’m healthy. It’s just a good time to get back into it.”
Although he hasn’t been engaged in competition for the record, Kinberger said, he has remained fit and fight-ready through his association with Team Link, where he serves as the sparring partner and a trainer for the studio’s team of successful and highly ranked amateur and pro fighters. Team Link’s Perry Filkens has used Kinberger’s services while climbing the MMA charts all the way to the Bellator Fighting Championships.
“Brent is training very well. He’s strong. His timing and his speed look good,” said Ed Carr, the driving force behind Team Link. “His reactions are good, and his flexibility is back. He’s had a very good training camp, and I see a lot of good things from him going into this fight. We’re all looking forward to Brent’s comeback.”
The co-main event features Derry middleweight Eddie Brito (3-5) looking to hand Cheyenne Vasquez (2-0) his first professional defeat.
Eleven other fights pairing amateur fighters from the Merrimack Valley and across the Northeast complete the card.
One of those bouts, between between Jake Pilla and Paulo Alves DeSousa, is for Combat Zone’s amateur featherweight title. Pilla and De Sousa bring identical records of 2-0 and an arsenal of mixed martial arts skills to the bout.
Doors at the Sports Club open at 6:30 p.m., with the first fight scheduled for 8 p.m. Tickets range from $40 for general admission to $120 for ringside seating. Parking is free.
Tickets can be purchased at www.combatzonemma.com or by calling 978-361-6772.
The public is invited to Thursday’s weigh-in, where fighters will greet fans and sign autographs. The weigh-in will take place in the Sports Club, beginning at 6 p.m.
Friday, April 4
(subject to change)PROFESSIONAL
155 pounds — Brent Kinberger, 5-3, Manchester, vs. Mervin Rodriguez, 5-7, Newark, N.J.
185 — Cheyenne Vazquez, 2-0, Lawrence, Mass. vs. Eddie Brito, 3-5, Derry
145-pound title fight: Jake Pilla, 2-0, Billerica, Mass., vs. Paulo Alves DeSousa, 2-0, Malden, Mass.
145 — Michael Fagan, 0-0, Lawrence, Mass. vs. Josh Harvey, 0-0, Bangor, Maine
170 — Tim Loughran, 1-0, Mass., vs. Roger Williams, 0-0, Cortland, N.Y.
155 — Jeff Beal, 0-0, N.H. vs. Mike Bulger, 0-0, Vt.
135 — David Bradbury, 1-0, Vt. vs. Carl Langston, 1-3, Windham, Maine
170 — Claudio Rene, 1-0, Lawrence, Mass. vs. Corey Bowehall, 1-2, Watertown, N.Y.
185 — Kristian Lombari, 0-3, Methuen, Mass. vs. John Ryan, 0-0, Nashua, N.H.
145 — Danny Abad, 1-2, Watertown, N.Y., vs. Dan Lynch, 2-0, Plaistow
170 — Brett Trahan, 9-2, Burlington, Vt. vs. J.T. Harold, 3-1, North Andover, Mass.
145 — Aaron Lacey, 3-0, Bangor, Maine, vs. Matt Tullos, 5-0, Dedham, Mass.
135 — Alec Wilson, 0-0, Mass. vs. Jordan Yantin, 0-2, Methuen, Mass.