PROVIDENCE, R.I. (July 30th, 2012) – As a born and bred New Yorker unable to fight in his own hometown, Don Carlos-Clauss takes pride in being the unwelcomed house guest every time he steps foot inside the cage.
“If I don’t travel, I don’t fight,” said Carlos-Clauss (9-6, 3 KOs), who’ll face hometown hero Mike Campbell (10-4, 7 KOs) of Providence, R.I., on Friday, Aug. 3, 2012 at Twin River Casino.
“The only way to get big fights is to face guys in their hometown and hopefully piss in the punch bowl.”
“Not in this fight,” Campbell countered. “He’s not going to be a road warrior on Friday night.”
Campbell’s middleweight showdown against Carlos-Clauss is part of a dynamic undercard on Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports’ “Far Beyond Driven” mixed martial arts show, which also features the highly-anticipated main event between John “Doomsday” Howard and Scott Rehm.
Campbell-Clauss is an intriguing match-up for a number of reasons, not just because of the contrast in styles – Campbell is a natural striker while Carlos-Clauss has four years of Division I college wrestling experience at Virginia – but because of what’s at stake for both fighters. After signing a promotional agreement with CES MMA, Campbell is now one of the most prolific Rhode Island-based fighters for New England’s No. 1 combat sports promotion, joining a list that includes Todd “The Hulk” Chattelle and Andre Soukhamthath.
Campbell takes that distinction seriously; he fought on CES’ first show in Rhode Island two years ago and wants to continue being part of that family if and when he gets back to the top (he fought on two World Extreme Cagefighting shows in mid-2009), which could come soon if he wins Friday night.
“CES is one of the best and biggest up-and-coming promotions and I want to grow with them,” Campbell said. “I’m still growing as a fighter and they’re still growing as an organization, so let’s grow together and make it happen.
“I’m expecting a lot of big things in the next year or two. I’m much more patient now as a fighter. I won’t make the same mistakes I made in the past. Everything is coming together. I’m starting to evolve into what I thought I was when I was with the WEC. I wasn’t ready for that then. I am now.”
Carlos-Clauss has put far less pressure on himself. He didn’t start training for mixed martial arts until several years after college when he already stopped working out for more than a year. The idea at the time was simply to get back into shape.
“I got fat and ugly looking,” he said. “I was disgusted with myself.”
With no amateur experience, Carlos-Clauss made his professional debut in 2007, losing to Travis Lerchen. He continued taking fights in other people’s backyards and eventually began learning – and winning – along the way. Among his notable wins are a split-decision victory over Calvin Kattar in 2010 and, most recently, back-to-back victories over John Ortolani and Jacob Kirwan, the latter coming on the undercard of the Bellator Fighting Championships show at Caesar’s Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City in May.
Starting with the win over Kattar, Carlos-Clauss has now won four of his last seven fights. The combined record of those seven opponents is a respectable 58-22. Likewise, Carlos-Clauss has only lost to one fighter who now has a losing record (Lerchen, who was 1-0 at the time and is now 5-9 overall). In other words, Carlos-Clauss will fight anyone at any given time in almost any venue.
“Those are the fights I want. That’s the whole point of doing this, right?” Carlos-Clauss said. “These are the wins that get you noticed. I don’t want to get by beating up on a bunch of puds. I want to fight the best and beat the best. I want to take their status.
“If you’ve covered this sport, you know it’s all about constant evolution. Everyone has different backgrounds and strengths, but I work on everything. Every week, my workouts are split up evenly. The whole point is to be well-rounded. I’m ready to go to the ground, or stand and bang – whatever it takes to get that win.”
Although fighting has become his life, it’s not his only source of income; Carlos-Clauss also runs a training facility in Ithica, N.Y., so he has something to fall back on once he stops fighting. Putting less pressure on himself has already helped him achieve more success than he ever could’ve imagined.
“Obviously, everyone has those [Ultimate Fighting Championships] dreams, but I’m 32 years old. I’m realistic about what I’m doing,” he said. “This is what I do for fun. I don’t have to fight. I don’t need the money. I like to train and compete.
“Instead of worrying about wins, I’m just worrying about having fun in training and making my team proud. How far can I go? I have no idea, but as long as I’m having fun I’ll keep doing it.”
Winning certainly helps make it fun, and Carlos-Clauss has trained hard during this camp to make sure he has the right game plan for an opponent he describes as “aggressive.”
“He tends to physically overwhelm guys,” Carlos-Clauss said of Campbell. “I think it’s clear I have the wrestling edge. I don’t think he’s a guy who looks to take guys down. I see him wanting to stand up unless I get the better of him and he goes for a takedown. He likes to stand and bang. So do I. It should be an exciting fight.”
With a seven-month layoff since his last fight, Campbell has worked equally hard, especially on his wrestling as he attempts to dispel the notion that he’s a one-dimensional striker.
“Just getting more of an understanding of the game has helped me significantly,” said Campbell, before adding that he’s worked exclusively with Providence’s Brennan Ward, a former standout wrestler at Rhode Island College.
“That’s my boy,” Campbell said. “Anyone who has seen him knows he has great wrestling. Last time out, he shot in on me between 20 and 30 times and only took me down once, so if I can do that against Brennan, I’m not worried about anyone else’s wrestling.
“I’m expecting a really tough fight. That’s what I’m preparing for mentally and physically. He won’t be able to handle me physically. He buckles under pressure. He doesn’t like to get hit. The positions I put people in 90 percent of the time are the positions he doesn’t like to be in. It’ll be an incredible fight.”
Tickets for “Far Beyond Driven” are $35.00, $55.00, $100.00 and $125.00 and can be purchased by calling CES at 401.724.2253/2254, online at www.cesmma.com or www.twinriver.com, at the Players Club booth at Twin River, or through any TicketMaster location. Doors open 6 p.m. with the first bout scheduled for 7.
The undercard features a light heavyweight battle between Greg Rebello (13-4, 7 KOs), also of Providence, and Carlos Cline (3-3, 1 KO) of Queens.
Lightweight Ruben Rey (5-3, 5 KOs) of Providence will face Sergio Moran Cabrera (1-0) of Boston; Hector Sanchez (0-3) of Woonsocket, R.I., will battle newcomer Dave Maggiore of Framingham, Mass., in a welterweight bout; and Johnston, R.I., light heavyweight Joe Pingitore (1-0, 1 KO) will face newcomer Ahsan Abdullah of Cortland, N.Y. Also on the undercard, Tyson Chartier (2-2) of Waltham, Mass., will face Wakefield, R.I., welterweight Tim O’Connell (4-4); welterweight Chris Cole (2-1) of Attleboro, Mass., will battle Robbie Leroux (3-1, 1 KO) of Fall River, Mass.; and Dinis Paiva Jr. (1-3) of East Providence, R.I., will face Framingham’s Gilvan Santos (1-3) in a welterweight bout. All fights and fighters are subject to change.
(Twin River has waived its 18+ rule for “Far Beyond Driven.” Anybody under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult and must enter through the West entrance).