Inside the Chicago Cagefighting Championship

By Bloody Elbow

Saturday, March 5th. Illinois is in deep cloud cover, awash with snow and icy rain. Forty minutes west of Chicago, in the town of Villa Park, inside the Odeum Expo Center, Jens Pulver is hounding local palooka Wade Choate around the cage. It’s the closing minutes of their three-round affair. The arena is already half emptied out.

For Pulver, having just snapped a six-fight losing streak last January, this fight is the first chance in nearly five years for him to put two wins together and begin to change the story of the end of his career. Wade Choate is in a hole almost as deep. Dubbed “The Last Dog Man,” he also just recently emerged from a stretch of losses, which saw his record fall to 12-12-0 before a win last August. He’s a little younger than Pulver, but he’s never reached the heights the former UFC champ has seen. As if he’d like to erase the past two years of his career, Choate’s introduction states his record as it stood in January of 2009, before his five-fight skid: 12-7-0.

It’s easy to imagine how desperate he is to string a couple of wins together, and though outside the cage he may have observed Pulver’s recent downward spiral with due sympathy, in the fight it’s every man for himself. Hence Choate’s refusal to stand in the pocket, and his stubborn adherence to a stick-and-move game plan. It’s been surprisingly effective. Pulver’s had trouble chasing him down all night, and his power shots have come slow and fallen short time and again. It’s enough to draw angry boos from the crowd. Unthinkably, the words “You suck” rain down from somewhere in the audience.

Pulver and Choate fight it out for a final, lonely couple of minutes. When it comes time to hear the judges’ decision, Pulver favors his left foot as he walks over to the referee. It’s a close fight to call, but people nevertheless crowd the exits.

 

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Eddie Alvarez to Defend Bellator LW Title vs. Pat Curran, April 2nd

By Full Contact Fighter

After months delay due to a shoulder injury, Pat Curran will finally face Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez, at the promotion’s upcoming April 2nd event in Uncasville, CT. Bellator 39 will be hosted by the Mohegan Sun Arena and it will be broadcast live on MTV 2. (Pictured: Alvarez punching Roger Huerta)

Curran (13-3) worked his way into a title shot last year by winning Bellator’s Season 2 lightweight tournament, scoring wins over Mike Ricci, Roger Huerta and finally, Toby Imada. The 23 year-old Illinois fighter has won four straight fights and hasn’t loss since December, 2009, when he was submitted by Travis Perzynski.

 

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Jason Reinhardt: ‘This Is My Only Way Out’

By Frank Curreri

At an advanced age when most fighters have either retired, or are being urged to retire by those around them, 41-year-old Jason Reinhardt finds himself on the cusp of finally “making it” in the UFC.

Much of the fuel for Reinhardt’s fire can be traced to this: job hatred. Disdain for his vocation has been parked in the recesses of the Illinois native’s mind as he prepares to step into the Octagon on Feb. 26 against Chinese sensation Tiequan Zhang (17-1).

Don’t be confused — Reinhardt’s deep-seated resentment is not directed at professional fighting, where he has amassed a spectacular 20-1 record. It’s his other job, the one Reinhardt has reluctantly mastered and refined over the past 22 years, the trade his father began teaching him at age 19. It’s a tedious gig that causes him to walk door-to-door delivering a rehearsed pitch to perfect strangers.

“Hi, I’m Jason Reinhardt. I’m in the area talking to people about life insurance and I wanted to share some information with you about ….”

Waking up every day and soliciting others is not for the meek of heart or easily discouraged.

“I’d knock on about 120 doors a day,” Reinhardt said. “Maybe 1 in 20 would say ‘yes.’”

1 in 20, dismal as it sounds, actually qualified him as a success. Reinhardt, married with an 11-year-old daughter, said he has made north of $100,000 a year selling life and funeral insurance policies to people at their dinner tables. But boredom trumped finance, and Reinhardt sees a breakout performance against Zhang as the freedom he’s been awaiting for two decades.

“I hate it. I don’t want to sell life insurance door-to-door any more so I have to win this fight,” he said. “This is my only way out, it’s do or die with this fight. I’m going to fight until the end in that cage. This is my only shot.”

 

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