1Not only is the GFL bringing an innovative style to the MMA scene via a nostalgic 1920s boxing atmosphere, but it is also instilling a strong relationship between itself and the fighters it's tirelessly endorsing.
One of the 18 fighters on the card is Amesbury native Chris Fisette, a 24-year-old MMA practitioner who has, for the last year, accomplished a goal most people would deem impossible.
Nicknamed "The Ego" for his semi-cocky and casual demeanor, Fisette has trained under Jeff Saab at Saab's East Coast Martial Arts for the past dozen years and eventually earned himself a black belt after four years of studying kempo karate. However, the Whittier Tech graduate, who has been wrestling periodically for the past eight years, has struggled with a weight issue since he was a sixth-grader at Amesbury Middle School.
Hovering around the 240-pound mark during high school, Fisette joined the wrestling team at Whittier, gaining appreciation for another martial art form and shedding excess weight in the process.
"Because wrestling is so physically demanding, I started to trim down and managed to cut my weight to around 185," Fisette said. "But once high school ended, my lifestyle just started to slow down, and combined with poor eating habits, I put the weight back on."
A sporadic training regimen wasn't producing the results Fisette was hoping for, and a monotonous life of work and routine seemed to be dragging at his heels, wearing away at his potential. But a chance night at a local MMA event watching a friend compete — Chris Grandmaison of Haverhill — tore asunder the wall of complacency that was holding Fisette from discovering where his true passion dwelled: in a mixed martial arts cage.
On Nov. 1, 2007, Fisette challenged himself to lose the necessary weight and consequently compete in his first MMA match within a year's length. Thanks to a rearranged eating habit and a steady training regimen, on Sept. 6, 2008, nearly 100 pounds lighter, Fisette competed and won his initial MMA contest, besting his opponent with a guillotine choke at 3:18 in the first round.
Now competing in his second MMA fight in a little over two months, the night of the fight is amazingly an exact count of 12 months, 12 days, and 12 hours since Fisette's fateful decision.
Over the past year, Fisette has been training with Saab and Eric Boles — a mixed martial artist instructor with a black belt in pankration, a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, a red belt in muay thai, and experience in vale tudo — who has been studying and competing in martial arts for over a decade, is confident in Fisette's skill level.
"He's definitely working very hard to get in the best shape possible and to learn as much as possible," said Boles, who started studying at American Pankration in Tempe, Ariz. "He's been training to the best of his abilities in all aspects of fighting, and I think that if he puts his heart and mind into it and continues to train as hard as he can, Chris has an excellent chance of winning."
Adhering to a training routine of early morning cardio and weight-training workouts, and night classes that shuffle between stand-up, wrestling and MMA sessions, Fisette juggles his training with 60-hour work weeks thanks to a schedule of three jobs. He still manages to sneak in some time to roll with his friends on Saab's mats.
One question remains — one that many non-advocates of MMA continually ask. Why?
"I love to fight. I love the competition. Being in a match is incredible," Fisette said. "You're able to use this sixth sense that the majority of people aren't even aware they have. To show your heart and your passion, and to display your talent and will all at the same time is what I love about it. I believe that my passion for this sport is what separates me from other mixed martial artists."
Distancing himself from other MMA practitioners is easier said than done, especially when a willing opponent in Scott Nichols (0-1, decision loss) stands across the cage eager to prove Fisette wrong. But Fisette is sure of his abilities and is cognizant of what his opponent brings.
"He's been training for three years and appears to enjoy standing," Fisette said. "But he doesn't seem confident about the entirety of the fight and whether he can take me down, which is something I plan to use to my advantage.
"I obviously see myself winning and not going out of the first round. If it does, it will be a very short second round, because I honestly think he'll be too gassed to continue any further," Fisette said. "I just believe that my cardio is just too advanced and that I'll be throwing the harder punches as the fight progresses."
For more information regarding GFL's Nov. 13 event, visit www.gflmma.com.
The Fisette Files
Name: Chris "The Ego" Fisette
Weight: 175 pounds
Gym: Saab's East Coast Martial Arts
Record: 1-0 (guillotine submission - Round 1)
Favorite fighter: Anderson Silva
Favorite movies: Gladiator, The Departed, Superbad
Training music: Techno, Blink-182, Limp Bizkit