January 11, 2007

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Rattling the cage
Mixed martial arts return to NHs
By Erica Febre efebre@hippopress.com

Just last year, Combat Zone hosted New Hampshire’s debut mixed martial arts (MMA) fights.On Saturday, Jan. 27, Combat Zone 20 brings cage fights back to Manchester, along with New Hampshire’s first-ever women’s MMA match. MMA is an intensive full-combat sport in which fighters are permitted to kick, strike, punch, wrestle and grapple.

“Mixed martial arts is becoming more popular than boxing. It’s the hardest sport as far as full-contact fighting goes,” said Roger Woo, matchmaker and head instructor for Team Woo-MFS.

Undefeated, 10-0
Team Woo-MFS, based in Hooksett, stands with an undefeated MMA record of 10-0. Team Woo is an affiliate of the Miletich Fighting System (MFS), using the techniques of Pat Miletich.

Roger, Team Woo’s lead, holds a black belt in karate and a brown belt in BJJ and is trained in several other martial arts techniques, but he doesn’t compete in the MMA fights.

“I don’t have any desire to compete. The way I look at it, I beat my own guys up all the time and, if they’re the ones winning in the ring, then what does that say? Besides, I prefer to teach,” Roger said. Roger is a level three instructor in MFS.

Four fighters from Team Woo-MFS will battle at Combat Zone 20. They are Woody Weatherby of Nashua, Dan Pasquarella of Manchester, Ben Manseau of Haverhill, Mass., and Barbara Woo of Londonderry.

Two-year Team Woo-MFS member Weatherby, 24, is the team’s top MMA fighter; he will fight Justin Hammerstrum of Team Tengu from Milford for the 175-lb. Super Light-Heavyweight Combat Zone Title Belt. He has a 3-0 record.

Manseau, age 23 and 140 lbs, is also a 3-0 undefeated champ, winning bouts with BJJ submissions. Manseau travels six days a week from Massachusetts to train and practice with his team. He will compete against Dan Bonnell of Dragon Warrior from Massachusetts.

Pasquarella, 19 and 202 lbs., known as “The Gorilla,” is a new member of Team Woo-MFS. Pasquarella was granted All-American status in the wrestling category. He joined Team Woo in November 2006 and will make his debut fight in front of his Manchester hometown crowd. He will compete against Mark Hoxie of Shikaku Ryu JJ.

Girl fight
Aside from debuting New Hampshire’s first women’s bout, Barbara will also be stepping into the cage for her own debut. This “fighter girl” used to be a ballerina.

“Yeah, former ballerina, now fighter. But ... I get treated the same as everyone else, makes no difference that I’m a woman or Roger’s wife,” Barbara said.

“There’s going to be a lot of pressure on her to fight hard because she’s my wife,” Roger said. Barbara trains with the guys — it’s not easy to find a woman who can match her combat training.

“But there are other female fighters out there,” Barbara said. “I’m hoping that this will provoke them to come out, if indeed they are out there,” Barbara said.

Barbara will compete against Sabrina Meserve of Seacoast Boxing from Rochester.

Ready to rumble
Combat Zone 20 will feature 30 of New England’s premiere MMA fighters, matched up for 15 bouts. The official weigh-in will be held on Friday, Jan. 26, at Hooters, located at 21 Front St. in Manchester. The weigh-in is open to the public and begins at 6 p.m.
What: Combat Zone 20 Cage Masters/Mixed Martial Arts event
When: Saturday, Jan. 27. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. First fight starts at 8 p.m.
Where: National Guard Armory, 1059 Canal St., Manchester
For more information: Go to www.combatzonemma.com, or call 978-828-2149. Tickets can also be purchased at the Uptown Tavern, 1301 Elm St., Manchester.