HOFFMAN ESTATES, ILLINOIS – Much of the attention on the Xtreme Fighting Organization’s mega-show on Nov. 11 is being directed at the mixed martial arts debut of former National Football League standout Alonzo Spellman.
At 6-foot-6 and more than 300 pounds, Spellman will be the biggest competitor on the 18-bout card at the new 11,000-seat Sears Centre.
However, mma veteran Jeff Curran says the lightweight main event fight between himself and undefeated Rafael Assuncao will definitely steal the show.
“I’m predicting a great fight… an exciting fight,” said Curran, who has won 10 of his last 11 bouts and is 26-8-1 overall. “I think Rafael and I can do it all… we can strike, kick and knee standing up and submit people on the ground. It’s a very close fight.”
Curran, who will have homecourt advantage, is no stranger to “close fights.” In the last year, he has beaten then undefeated Antonio Carvalho for the Shooto Americas title; submitted Charles Bennett on a King of the Cage Pay-Per-View event; lost a decision in Pride Bushido to Japan star Hatsu Hioki in Tokyo; and edged out hometown favorite Wagney Fabiano by split decision in Canada.
Assuncao, a Brazilian with a 7-0 record, has also done well. He submitted Joe Lauzon, who recently knocked out former world champion Jens Pulver in the UFC, and also owns a win over tough Jorge Masvidal.
“This is a huge fight in the lightweight division,” said promoter Dan Lardy. “Both guys are competing at the top level and are known for putting on exciting fights. We’re expecting fans to be talking about this fight on the way out of the arena.”
Spellman, who played nine years in the NFL, mostly with the Chicago Bears, is taking the fight game seriously. He has set up a camp in Las Vegas that includes pro boxer Ty Fields (37-1) and he is being coached by Augie “School Boy” Sanchez, who fought for the WBO lightweight world title against Prince Naseem Hamed.
“I’m taking this very seriously,” Spellman said. “I’ve been dealt a lot of lemons in my life and I’m looking at this to turn it all into lemonade.”
Chicago native Antoine “Herc” Hayes will try to spoil Spellman’s debut. Hayes is 3-2 overall with a big knockout win over previously unbeaten Mark Burch and a loss to UFC fighter Jake O’Brien.
“Alonzo was a great football player… and he’s a great athlete,” Hayes said. “But this isn’t football… this is mma and this is my sport. He’s going to find out there’s a big difference between the two sports.”
Another feature bout includes Chicago legend Bob Schirmer, who has countless submission grappling titles, getting into the cage for probably the last time. Schirmer, although in great shape, is 50 years old.
Also, Chicago’s Brian Gassaway (23-14) a UFC veteran, will face Donnie Liles (6-1) of Denver in a welterweight bout… and UFC veteran Terry Martin will battle Jason Guida for the XFO middleweight title. Both Martin and Guida are Chicago standouts.
XFO 145-pound champion Matt Fiordirosa (5-1) will defend his title against unbeaten Justin Robbins (5-0) of Springfield, Ill.
In another noteworthy match, Kerry “Meat Truck” Schall, a veteran of “The Ultimate Fighter” television show, will compete against Geza Kalman in a heavyweight bout between two UFC veterans.
Tickets are available at 1-888-SEARSTIX and more information is available at www.x-fighting.tv and www.searscentre.com.
Raphael Assuncao vs. Jeff Curran, 155
James Kugler vs. Bob Schirmer, 165
Antoine Hayes vs. Alonzo Spellman, S. Hvy.
Donnie Liles vs. Brian Gassaway, 175
Justin Robbins vs. Matt Fiordirosa (145 title fight)
Jason Guida vs. Terry Martin, (185 title fight)
Ron Fields vs. Justin McElfresh (205 title fight)
Jon Hosman vs. Mustafa Hussaini, 135
Ryan Williams vs. Kenny Nyquist, 170
Josh Taibl vs Mike Marrello, 205
Norm Alexander vs. Nate Mohr, 155
Geza Kalman vs. Kerry Schall, Hwt.
Tony Rook vs. Mike Stumpf, 170
Jay Little vs. Art Guerrero, 155
Sean Najm vs. Steve Johnson, Hvy
Chris Barbeau vs. Cal Ferry, 145
Camrann Pacheco vs. Jason Wagner, 145
Russ Janca vs. TBA, 165