Combat Zone MMA Returns to Rockingham Park Friday
He had his first two scheduled matches as a pro canceled and then his last opponent scratched twice as well, so it's no wonder that Cody Anderson can't wait to end his layoff and get back into the cage in hopes of extending his undefeated record.
He'll get that opportunity on Friday night when he battles Ryan Hodge in the main event of March Madness presented by Combat Zone at Rockingham Park.
"I want to see him unleash in the cage and do what he does in training," said John Fain, the head of Team Triumph in Nashua, who has trained the 19-year-old fighter from Billerica, MA since his parents first brought him through the door at 14. "Cody has phenomenal knees, elbows and feet. I want him to really do some damage. He's absolutely peaked and he's ready to go."
Hodge, a 32-year-old tough and seasoned pro who has been fighting in MMA since before the sport was even sanctioned, will be looking to inflict some blows, kicks and strikes of his own when the middleweights match up at 185 pounds.
The owner and head coach of F2 Arena in Gainesville, FL has been fighting guys with UFC experience so his talent and experience belie his record of 4-7-0 even though he is coming into this match off three straight losses.
“When you’re in a fight, anything can happen,” he said. "Guys who don’t have that many fights can come in extremely well conditioned so I am not taking him lightly.”
Anderson began his amateur career and quickly racked up five wins against no losses as an 18-year-old. In his lone professional start, he scored a first round TKO against Hector Sanchez on November 10 last year.
In his six wins, the rising star has won with four TKOs or KOs and the other two times he submitted his opponents with a rear naked choke hold.
Not one opponent has lasted past the second round.
“I looked at Cody’s fights and he looks like he’s being well trained and is well coached,” said Hodge, who is the head coach of five other pro and 24 amateur fighters at the gym he owns with his wife. “He’s being taught the right things and he’s got some wrestling background so I’m sure he’ll be prepared and ready to go.”
Fain said that wrestling is a talent Anderson acquired strictly to enhance his repertoire as an MMA fighter.
"He knew it was a skill he had to have so he went out and became one of the top wrestlers in the state. He's very well-rounded and is disciplined. He's a purple belt in Jui-Jitsu and he's in the gym boxing five days a week. He's training hard and he's training great.," he explained.
It's not only how Anderson trains, it is with whom. The Team Triumph roster has included top regional MMA fighters like UFC veteran Chuck O'Neil, Dennis Olso, John Ortolani and Peggy Morgan, who is on her way to the female faction of the UFC. Even though Anderson has been training for just five years, he's had the benefit of the experience and insights of O'Neil, Olson and Ortolani among others. That's why he's come so far so fast.
"Cody's been in camp for 12 weeks (since his last fight) and he's pushed hard. It's been a very long, grueling camp for him," said Fain. "But I told him that even though you've only been fighting for a year, all of your training partners could beat Ryan Hodge."
Hodge, who was raised in Boston before majoring in electrical engineering at the University of Florida, earned a brown belt in Jiu-Jitsu and is also accomplished in all of the various mixed martial arts.
“I can roll with the black belt J-J performers and I can always fall back on my wrestling background. If you started out as a wrestler, you’re always a wrestler,” he said. “The combination of my wrestling and grappling makes me dangerous when I get an opponent on the ground. I’m as comfortable on my back as I am on top. So whatever position I get into in the cage, I feel comfortable.”
Anderson, who will have the support of a raucous home crowd at Rockingham, will do everything he can to make sure that doesn't happen.
"Really, nobody has done what Cody has in that short of a period of time," said Fain. "He is excited and absolutely ready for this fight."
In another highly anticipated pro match on the card, Team Triumph's Walter Smith Cotito (1-1-0) takes on Ray Wood (1-0-0) from Bucksport, Maine at 145 pounds. The young fighter has also impressed many seasoned observers.
"He keeps getting better and better and his stand-ups have come along the fastest," said Fain, who will also send out Joey Gomez in his po debut on Friday night. "He's a brand new brown belt in Jui-Jitsu. He's phenomenal on the ground now and he's a really fierce kick boxer."
Wood has a reputation as an aggressive fighter with explosive hands and strong take downs. He's also athletic and likes to submit opponents on the ground.
"The problem is that he hasn't been fighting guy's on Smith's level," said Fain. "Wood uses his athleticism and strength to try and overwhelm his opponents, so we're going to have to try and capitalize on that."
Combat Zone 43 will have 13 competitive and evenly-matched fights, six pro and seven amateur, on the undercard. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and the first fight on the March Madness card begins at 8:00 p.m.
Tickets are on sale now for $120, $90, $75, $50 and $40 and can be purchased through www.czmma.com or by calling promoter Dave George at 978-360-3846.
Parking at Rockingham Park is free. The weigh-in will be held in the Sports Club at the racetrack at 6 p.m. on Thursday, February 28 and the event is free and open to the public.
The fighters will be available to meet with their fans and sign autographs. The updated and current card for March Madness, which is subject to change, is on the website: czmma.com.