Saturday, September 14, 2013

World beware and get ready for this dynamic duo of MMA

My good friend MMA Junkie Radio host Gorgeous George Garcia is constantly heard saying, "Right now at this very moment, there are beasts around the world training that will become the next superstars of MMA." While we don't always agree on a lot of things, this is one thing we can both agree on. However, for me I don't need to look around the world for those "beasts," as I have two of them right here in my backyard

World beware as there is a dynamic duo of MMA right here in the Lehigh Valley. Step aside Batman and Robin as Scott Heckman and Rick Nuno (pictured above respectively) are ready to make their mark; as Rick Nuno told me, "Get ready, the Bash Brothers are coming." Though one is still relatively new to the game, in terms of fights and experience, the other is a veteran of 19 fights already, including three in the Bellator Fighting Championships. However, all those 19 fights have been in less than three and a half years; so he's been both busy and hungry.

Not just a beast, Scott 'The Animal' Heckman (15-4, 1 KO, 11 subs) is an animal as his nickname suggest. At 145 lbs. this featherweight becomes a monster when he gets in the cage. A ball of fire who is a wrestler by trade, Heckman tends to walk his opponents down, as an animal stalks his prey, and literally overwhelms them with punches, takedowns and his ground and pound before looking for the finish.

A product of Bangor, PA, Heckman began his college wrestling career at Bloomsburg University on full scholarship, where he qualified for nationals as a true freshman, before transferring to my Alma Mater East Stroudsburg University. After college, he wasn't sure what direction he wanted to go in, but as he told me, "I knew I was not ready for a desk job." A fan of MMA before he ever considered doing it, it was a chance to see a friend fight locally that cemented his career choice.

"At first, I thought MMA was only fought in the UFC and Strikeforce; I never realized there were other organizations out there you could fight in and work your way up to that level," he told me. However, once he found out, he went up to his friend's trainer, introduced himself and told him, "That's what I want to do." The trainer told him if he was serious to be at his gym Monday at a certain time and 19 pro fights later, the rest is history.

A lot has changed over the last few years, besides his game and skill level. Heckman is now a full time professional fighter who trains with the some of the elite of the sport at AMA Fight Club in New Jersey, his boxing with noted trainer Lemuel 'Indio' Rodriguez and his Strength and Conditioning with Craig Merrick at MADE S&C in Nazareth, PA. That combination resulted in a seven fight win streak that was derailed in his last fight in June, but not without controversy.

Heckman, who had recently won and was defending the XFE featherweight title, was dominating his opponent Terrell Hobbs in the first round. However at the beginning of the second is when an overhand right from his opponent resulted in a thumb going directly into his eye. From that point on as Heckman told me, "I was in survival mode." Unable to see, he told the referee whose only response was just, "keep fighting." Unable to defend himself, he inevitably gave up his back and neck resulting in a choke hold submission loss.

Heckman and his camp attempted to appeal the decision to the Pennsylvania Athletic Commission, trying to change the decision to a no-contest, but his appeal fell on deaf ears. Three months later, he's ready to put that behind him and get back to his winning ways next Saturday September 21st at the Valley Forge Casino as he fights for Caged Fury Fighting Championships @ CFFC 27. Besides the incentive of coming off a loss, Heckman has another motivating factor in his corner.

A week after that controversial defeat, he was quickly lifted from any possible setback as he got married to the love of his life Sara. I asked him how this monumental change in his life has impacted his MMA career and he said, "If anything it's had a positive impact. I can be hard to deal with sometimes, yet she's so positive. She's always supportive of my career and has become that final piece of my heart that will drive me to go all out."

On that same CFFC 27 card, Heckman's teammate lightweight (155 lbs.) Rick 'El Numero Uno' Nuno (2-1, 1 KO) will step into the cage as well. Coming off a big win at that same XFE card three months ago, Nuno, from Bethlehem, PA, looks to ride that momentum as he propels his career. Rick, who is a dynamite striker with super fast hands, has been working really hard at rounding out his overall MMA game.When asked specifically how his jiu-jitsu has been coming along, he told me, "It's coming really good. Training everyday at AMA with guys like Charlie Brenneman, the Main Brothers, Renzo Gracie black belt Jaime Cruz, UFC fighter Jimmy Hettis and of course Scott Heckman, it can't do anything but get better."

I asked Heckman first hand about Nuno and his response was even more impressive; "Here's a young kid that's going to be good. He already had the stand-up; we just transformed him into a complete fighter. When he first started I would get the best of him on the ground because that's my world, but that's no longer the case." Since Nuno also has the same circuit of trainers for MMA, boxing and strength and conditioning, I asked him what it's like training with Heckman every day. His response was, "We hit it off well right from the start. We both come from opposite ends of the spectrum as fighters, so we complement each other perfectly. Plus, because of his experience, I'm able to pick his brain."

Young in his career, but moving along nicely, I asked him where he would like to be a year from now in his career. Nuno responded by saying, "I'm not promised tomorrow or even my next fight. I want to keep working hard, get better and hopefully if an opportunity came along to get on either 'The Ultimate Fighter' or 'Fight Master' reality shows, I will be prepared."

Bellator has a show scheduled at The Sands Event Center in Bethlehem on November 22nd. Heckman, who's fought for Bellator before, has a signed a one fight deal to appear on that card. Nuno, as of now, is not scheduled to appear however he told me, "I'm all about it; I want to be on there, so if they call I will be ready to go." Bellator, UFC, world beware and get ready for this dynamic duo of MMA.

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