The bad blood will come to an end this Saturday live from the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in Atlantic City, New Jersey when Azunna "Zu" Anyanwu takes on Plinio Cruz for a third time for the coveted Cage Fury Fighting Championship’s (CFFC) heavyweight crown. Along with this heavyweight title fight, nine other professional mixed martial arts bouts are scheduled to take place at CFFC 58!
This all started on November 1, 2014 when Cruz defeated Anyanwu by unanimous decision and in the process, took the title back to North New Jersey. After that loss, Anyanwu redeemed himself with a knockout victory over Lewis Rumsey, setting himself up for the rematch. On July 18, 2015, Anyanwu avenged the loss and earned a split decision victory over Cruz, taking back his title. With both coming off victories, there is no better time for the trilogy to happen. "In the Northeast, these two are at the top," stated CFFC CEO Robert Haydak Jr. "The first two fights between these guys were epic, I expect the trilogy to be more of the same. "Zu" and Plinio are both laser focused on getting to the UFC. A lot is at stake come May 21!"
"In the first fight, I was out of shape thought I can beat him out of shape and he walked away barely winning," reflected Anyanwu. "The second fight, I outclassed him. My footwork was magnificent and my head movement was on point. I know him better than he knows himself now."
After losing to Anyanwu, Cruz went on to defeat Joe Stripling, but he didn't seem to impressed by that performance. "I was there live for that fight it was very entertaining," stated Anyanwu. "I personally think Joe won the fight.
Anyanwu is also coming off a fascinating victory over former CFFC heavyweight champion, Chris Birchler, who also trains with Cruz. However, he maybe his own biggest critic. "Although I was not physically prepared, mentally I was hundred percent. I only trained a couple days of week for that fight. I was busy life at the time. If my physical was on point with my mental that night, I would've got the finish earlier. Not taking anything away from Birchler, he's a great competitor, and In my opinion, the number one contender in the heavyweight division.
Anyanwu is looking for another victory this Saturday and when asked for a prediction, he laughed and stated he would win by a triangle choke in the first round. "The fights with Zu got me a lot of experience and made me grow a lot as a martial artist," stated Cruz. "In our first fight, I took it on three weeks notice and got the job done. I fought more elusive and picked my shots. I knocked him down and beat him standing. In our second fight, I moved forward and chased him. Zu came in better shape for that rematch and gave me a good fight. But I still believe I won that fight, but the judges gave him a split decision. It is what it is. I believe that this rivalry between me and Zu is making us both train harder. We're both going to be on the top of our games to make this last one a memorable fight, not only for us but for everyone who’s going to be watching it."
Cruz was in attendance when Anyanwu beat Birchler and was actually in his corner. That loss doesn't sit well with him. "Chris Birchler is not only my training partner but also a good friend of mine," continued Cruz. "We all believed he was going to get the win over Zu, but in the fighting business, anything can happen."
Cruz also spoke about his last fight, a decision victory over Stripling. "That fight with Stripling was one of the funnest fights I’ve ever had. Stripling is a great person and we both respect each other as men. We went there and left it all in the cage. To get a win after a war like that for sure got my confidence better than ever".
When it comes to predictions, Cruz didn't hold back any words. "This Saturday I’m coming to get that belt back. Zu knows he didn’t beat me in that rematch. I’m prepared to finish this fight in the first round or go the distance to take the belt, I’m ready. I don’t care how it ends as long as I leave the winner and that's what's going to happen. I believe that this is gonna be the best fight we had. I’m ready to go over there and do whatever it takes to win and I believe Zu is gonna be on the top of his game too. So everyone be prepared for a show in which "Big Daddy Cruz" is going to come out the winner."
In the comain event, Kurt Pellegrino's Stephen Regman is looking to reclaim his number one contender status to the CFFC lightweight crown when he takes on Pennsylvania's Mike Wilkins. "Regman vs. Wilkins is a great matchup," stated Haydak. "Everybody loves striking and this one has the makings of FOTN. Regman has endured numerous opponents changes leading up to his number one contender fight. Nonetheless, with a his typical fighter mentality, he has embraced all the changes and simply wants to fight. A win gets him the shot at the next lightweight title."
When we last saw Stephen Regman, he was taking on the CFFC lightweight champion, Darrell Horcher. Regman came up short and Horcher went on to the UFC. The experience he gained from that can't be measured. "The last fight I was on a five fight win streak fighting for the CFFC lightweight title," said Regman. "Words can't express how excited I was for that fight. Unfortunately, things didn't go my way, I got caught with a good body shot and couldn't recover. I always look to put on a show and hopefully I can fight for the title in the future and be the main event again!" After that loss, Regman switched camps and now trains under former UFC standout, Kurt Pellegrino. "This training camp has gone extremely well from weight cutting to fine tuning my techniques, both standing and on the ground," continued Regman. "Hats off to Kurt Pellegrino for taking the time to work with me and help me grow in all areas. It's a big motivator having Kurt train with me in both sparring and jiujitsu, especially knowing how good of a fighter he was in the UFC! Making the switch to KPMMA was smooth with everyone being so friendly and welcoming."
Regman was originally scheduled to fight Cole Pressley, but a hand injury forced him out. Next up was another tough challenge, Thomas Webb who sported a record of 103. However, after an exam revealed an orbital fracture, Webb had to withdraw as well. Now stepping up is Mike Wilkins. "Having multiple opponent changes has not been a problem for me," stated Regman. "I have not been distracted or unfocused. My mind is set on what I want to accomplish in the fight despite the opponent. I look at fight videos with my coach and come up with a game plan and if the opponent changes then we just tweak the game plan a little. In the end, I know what I am going to do and am confident about it. Mike is from Renzo Gracie and is obviously a ground guy. He doesn't seem afraid to strike, which is exciting to me. I respect him for taking the fight on such a short notice. I'm looking to share the cage with him on May 21st!"
When asked what kind of Regman we will see this Saturday, he responded with the following, "I'm going to go in there, be vicious, finish the fight and show why I deserve another title shot. That's a huge motivator for me. I've been there before and I know I deserve it. I couldn't sit still on the couch watching Horcher's UFC fight knowing that I was so close. I won't allow that opportunity to slip away again. Thinking about my fight with Horcher, pushes me to train harder each and everyday! There's nothing I want more than fighting for the title again and becoming CFFC's new lightweight champ!"
This card will also feature another heavyweight bout pitting two undefeated prospects Shawn Teed (10) facing Bradley Schott (10). CFFC 58 will also feature a pair of bantamweight fights that will have title implications when Jordan Morales takes on Ricky Bandejas and Tony Gravely takes on the undefeated Dave Roberts.