Full press release below:
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (Aug. 22, 2012) – Mike Stewart doesn’t worry much about where he’s ranked among his peers in the light heavyweight division. The numbers game in mixed martial arts can be quite fickle at times.
“I could be out of those rankings in a mere second,” said Stewart, a White Plains, N.Y., native who’s ranked No. 1 in the northeast in the 205-pound weight class. “You’ve got to treat everyone the same regardless of their record or ranking.
“The biggest fight is the one in front of you, and you never know when you might get that call – or who’s watching.”
Stewart (8-3, 3 KOs) hopes all eyes are on him Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012 at the Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City when he faces veteran Eric Thompson (7-16, 4 KOs) of Slidell, La., on the undercard of Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports “War On The Shore” mixed martial arts event.
With three consecutive wins – two against fighters currently ranked among the Top 5 in the northeast, including former No. 1 Greg Rebello of Rhode Island – Stewart knows he’s on the cusp of something big if he can keep the momentum going. Thompson’s resume isn’t as flashy as what Rebello or Cody Lightfoot – the current third-ranked light heavyweight in the region, whom Stewart beat in February – bring to the table, but Stewart knows better than to overlook anyone, especially considering what’s at stake.
“I think we’re getting close,” Stewart said of his chances of a possible invite to the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC). “Greg and Cody were such tough guys and tough fighters, and, to be honest, it’s easy to get up when you’re facing someone that good, but right now Eric Thompson is the most dangerous guy in the world to me.
“If I lose to him, all my recent winnings are undone. He’s got nothing to lose, so I need to be that much sharper. I need him – I need him to get to where I want to be.”
Stewart’s recent success, and subsequent climb in the rankings, hasn’t affected his mentality, nor has the pressure of needing every last win brought on any unwanted bouts with stage fright. He’s figured out how to ignore all the outside chatter, a skill he developed over the years while balancing his personal life and career.
“You have to block that stuff out,” he said. “If you think about anything else other than the day in front of you, things won’t get done. Learning how to deal with adversity and being uncomfortable is what makes you a champion, and with every fight I’ve had, it seems like there’s always something.”
Two weeks before his win over Frederic Belleton in January of 2010 in Plymouth, Mass., Stewart’s father passed away – “I was going from the funeral to my workout sessions,” he said – and he’s had to adjust his training schedule for Saturday’s fight with his wife, Dana, undergoing a surgical procedure earlier this month.
“I think these are the little speed bumps God throws in your way to make you stronger,” Stewart said.
“If you sit and harp and worry, you won’t get done what you need to get done. I love training. I’m glad I’m a simple-minded person. Once I get in there, I shut my phone off and just concentrate on what I need to do. I live for this. When I’m in there, either training or fighting, there’s nothing else – no worries, just the guy standing in front of you trying to punch you in the face.”
The task at hand Saturday night is defeating Thompson, whom Stewart describes as a crafty veteran capable of switching between an orthodox and southpaw stance if necessary.
“He’s going to come out swinging for the fences,” Stewart said. “That’s what I would tell him to do.”
Stewart’s goal, as always, is to use his dominant strength and size to overwhelm his opponent, similar to what he did against both Rebello and Lightfoot.
“I just want to come forward and make him bend to my will. I like to pressure guys until they’re worn out,” Stewart said. “If that means throwing punches, then so be it, or if they hit the cage and go to the floor I’ll just punch them until they throw their hands up and say, ‘Get me out of here!’
“I just want to outwork the guy. I’m not the most talented guy in the world, but the one thing I do is work. I’m going to work harder than him and we’ll find out who’s willing to give more.”
The main event of Saturday’s show stars former UFC welterweight Kris McCray of Toms River, N.J., battling Chris Curtis in addition to a dynamic lightweight showdown between Brazil’s Gil de Freitas and Philadelphia native Gemiyale Adkins.
Also on the undercard, Bricktown, N.J., lightweight Kevin Roddy (12-14-1) will face Brazilian Fabio Serrao (4-2) – fighting out of the city of Manaus – with Roddy seeking three consecutive wins for the first time since 2006.
Welterweight Joe McGann (3-1, 1 KO) of Franklin, Mass., will battle Lester Caslow (8-7, 3 KOs) of Belmar, N.J.; Philadelphia’s Rami Ibrahim (1-1) will take on fellow bantamweight Keyon Wilkins (0-2) of South Hill, Va.; and featherweight Jason McLean (6-5, 2 KOs) of Perthamboy, N.J., will face Corey Simmons (1-1) of Defiance, Ohio.
Tickets for “War On The Shore” are on sale now at $45, $65, $75 and $125 and can be purchased by calling CES at 401.724.2253/2254, online at www.cesboxing.com and www.ticketmaster.com, or at the Resorts Casino Hotel Box Office. Showtime is 8 p.m. (EST) with doors opening at 7.