VFS 5 Previews & Picks: Must-See Matches

Valley Fight Series 5 amateur MMA promotion in Reedley, California this Saturday September 28 at The Armory Hall.

2 days away.

I'm competing in my first ever sub-only superfight against Marlon Leano from Piranha BJJ in Bakersfield. Couldn't be more excited. My "camp" went about as perfectly as one can go. Overcame some early injuries. Made weight with little effort. Feeling well-prepared. Woke up with some flu-like symptoms this morning, but I believe they will pass by Saturday, because it's at that minor level where it feels like it's not gonna fully set in, you know what I mean? Fingers crossed. Either way I'm ready to showcase my skills and have an all-around good time on Saturday.

As excited as I am to compete, I can't help but look forward to the other fights on the card.
There are some very special matchups that you won't want to miss. I'm taking a few minutes now to talk about some of my favorites:

Severiano Perez vs. Sterling Ingram

These two guys are fighting for the lightweight title. Both are returning Valley Fight Series fighters, and both are promising young guys.

Severiano Perez is 19 years old, the younger brother of heavyweight title contender AJ Perez. I met Severiano at the VFS 5 Press conference and got a chance to talk with him for a few minutes about his training, his perspective on competing and life in general. While he is only 19, he speaks with a level of humility and wisdom well beyond his years. Still, he is firey and believes he can be the best, which is what it takes to become the best.

In his last match, at VFS 4,  he took the KO win over Catre Warren:

19 years old is super young, but if you talk to this kid for 5 minutes you'll get the sense that he has unlimited potential and he is capable of greatness. He has an incredible work ethic and the sky is the limit for him.

Sterling Ingram

Now let's talk about Sterling "Money" Ingram. I've seen Sterling fight twice for Valley Fight Series and both times he was super entertaining and took the win. I sat next to him at the VFS 5 press conference and could tell right away he's a strong personality. Very friendly guy. I got along with him great. It's hard not to root for the guy. He's got a boxing championship belt, runs 5 miles every day, and has a super positive respectful attitude toward his competition.

He's 2-0 in Valley Fight Series. I believe he's the same age as me, 28. His confidence as a man and as a fighter is inspiring. The guy is easy to root for. Here's a video of his last fight at Valley Fight Series:

I'm having a hard time deciding who I want, much less expect, to win this fight. I'm expecting for both guys to put on a tremendous performance. Only one guy can walk away with the belt, but there should be no losers in this fight.

I think Sterling has more tools in his belt and it'll be tough for Sevy to overcome, but I can also see Sevy's youth and aggressiveness factoring well into this fight.

Gun-to-my-head pick: If you held a gun to my head, I'd have to go with Sterling. He's got more experience, he's got more time training, more tools in his kit. But these two are both winners as men and as fighters and I have high hopes for both of them regardless of the outcome on Saturday.

AJ Perez vs. Omar Reneau

These two heavy hitters are fighting for the light heavyweight title and it is going to be an absolute barn burner. These two men are true dogs, and are coming to brawl. After the VFS 5 Press Conference I couldn't help but feel like a win for AJ Perez would mean a lot more than it would for Omar.

I don't know either of them very well, they were both really nice to me. Yet, I had a chance to chat with entire the Perez family and couldn't help but feel like they are a true cinderella story in the making. A win for AJ would warm my heart.

That said, Omar is a mother F'er of a fighter and that's what we are talking about here.
He won the light heavyweight title at the last Valley Fight Series defeating Hack Culling:

 

 

Omar has a legitimate team behind him. He's making a push for greatness. He's got the fighter mentality, military man, long time training, well rounded MMA game. He should be a tall order for AJ and he has a very high ceiling in MMA.

AJ Perez

AJ is a very young dude. You wouldn't know this from talking to him because he talks like a wise man who has been to war. His self-belief is inspiring. He's got a lot of heart and his approach to MMA is one of perpetual learning. He's patient, knowing he is still young, but has no self-imposed limitations and believes he can make a pro push. It's hard not to believe in him too. I know he has a wrestling background. As far as I can tell he is a wrestling boxer, but I wouldn't underestimate his ability to kick and grapple from his back either.

Here's AJ putting it on Ruben Castaneda Jr in spectacular fashion at Valley Fight Series 3:

 

 

Omar looks like the far more athletic opponent, but AJ is strong and he trains hard. I think this is going to be a true clash for the ages in Valley Fight Series history. Whoever wins, there will be blood, and I expect an all-out war.

Gun-to-my-head pick: If I was in Vegas, I'd put some money on Omar because I think he has more tools in his belt.

But I'm not gonna be in Vegas. I'm gonna be in the building with my hands partially covering my eyes. And my heart says to go with AJ. Dreams do come true, and this title would mean so much more in the hands of AJ than Omar's. I might be picking wrong, I might not be doing the correct math, but fuck it, it's amateur MMA and it's gonna be fun either way. So AJ Perez is my official pick for this fight.

James Delsid vs. Kastriot Useni

Let's talk about this doozy!!!

Last minute bout scheduled yesterday, I can't believe it's really happening. James Delsid is not only a friend and former training partner of mine, he's my favorite amateur MMA fighter of all time. As far as entertaining fighters go, this guy is on top. I totally believe in his jiujitsu because he's put it on me so many times. He works relentlessly on his craft with boxing and even with the kickboxing, and he is as game as they come. He's a real OG. He will fight anyone at anytime, fighting is who he is.

His opponent, Kastriot Useni, is from the MMA royal bloodline SBG Ireland. His coach none other than John Kavanaugh. If you're not keen to MMA, that's Conor McGregor's coach. If you look at Useni's instagram page, you'll see pictures of him training with the SBG squad, including his most recent photo with Artem Lobov. This guy is training in a world class facility in Ireland as we speak. He's probably flying in tomorrow. He's fighting out of West Hollywood, so I'm not sure how that fits into his training at SBG Ireland, but never matter.

This guy is a legit actor. He was in Blue Mountain State, and a few other appearances. It looks like he's working on some more stuff. Good for him.

I haven't seen any of his fights, but I have to imagine he's in the right environment for improving his game on a professional level. Even if he's not spending a ton of time with Kavanaugh himself, the training facility looks impeccable, and he seems to genuinely have the support of those guys on a higher-than-entry level.

Let's accept the fact that we have no idea how this match is gonna go down.

That said, I'm putting all my chips on the table towards Delsid because he's my boy, he's on a tear right now fighting all the time and winning, and he's an absolute dog.

Here's James winning 7 months ago in the 209 Beatdown promotion:

So there you have it. My title fight summaries and picks, and my pick for the special last minute bout between James Delsid and the SBC Ireland hotshot Kastriot Useni.

There are plenty of other great matchups on the card, but it's getting late, I'm feeling a bit under the weather so I've got to rest up, tomorrow's Friday, I'm not trying to have a Michael Jordan flu game on Saturday so I'm gonna wrap it up now and get ready for bed.

I'm really excited to get in the cage and compete, and I'm almost JUST as excited to watch some of these other bouts.

If you haven't purchased your tickets yet, don't miss out, get them while you still can. You can buy them from me or you can buy them at VFSMMA.com 

If you're gonna buy them at the gate, get there early!

See you Saturday, ladies and gentlemen.

Till next time.