by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
This past week there was a lot of discussion about MMA and boxing and how the two exist either coherently or in a nonsensical manner.

When all is said and done, both sports do share numerous similarities, however there are areas in which they are strikingly different; one such case being the amateur ranks.

In professional boxing it’s rare to find a fighter who hasn’t gone through some extensive amateur program of sometimes hundreds of fights before becoming a professional. In MMA it’s almost completely diametric.

More often than not, an MMA fighter has almost no amateur experience before turning pro. Even some of the most successful fighters in the sport had their first MMA bout in the professional ranks.

Even with the heavy emphasis on professional competition in MMA, the tide is slowly starting to turn. Organizations such as the Full Contact Fighting Federation [FCFF] are completely amateur-based and more local shows are beginning to feature amateur fighters.

In recent years we’ve begun to see some of those featured amateur fighters later go on to achieve professional success, such as Team Quest’s Ed Nuno.

This past weekend Nuno defeated notoriously tough Eddy Ellis to capture the Sportfight Welterweight Championship, returning the belt to Team Quest after previous champion Chris Wilson relinquished the title to join the International Fight League last year.

Ed went 9-2 in his extensive amateur career before winning all three of his pro bouts, and is now reaping the rewards of his hard work and continued evolution as a fighter.

“It went good,” said Nuno of his title victory over Ellis. “I went in there Saturday and tried some new stuff. Instead of going out there, just wailing away, I tried to create a controlled environment for myself.”

“I heard the 10-second mark in the second round. I felt him get tired and was waiting for him to release [the rear naked choke]. Usually it’s pretty hard to hold a rear naked, especially when they fight it, you wear out your arms – if you remember BJ Penn versus Georges St. Pierre [at UFC 58] – same thing. I eventually broke out; I knew I had two rounds down, so I went for it, do or die I guess,” continued Ed.

From there Nuno managed to reverse position and laid a barrage of strikes, rendering Ellis unconscious.

“I’m pretty sure he was out,” recalled Ed. “I remember punching him as he was holding me and I felt his whole body go limp, so naturally I hit him some more [and finished the fight].”

With the win comes the Sportfight 170-pound Championship, which is just one of many Sportfight titles that has helped produce such successful young talents as John Gunderson, Ed Herman, Chris Leben, and the aforementioned Chris Wilson.

“I’m just glad I had the chance to fight for it,” exclaimed Nuno. “There’s a lot of fighters who are waiting in line for a Sportfight title, a lot of great fighters. You just have to be there at the right time.”

Ed added, “What else can I say? I’m excited to be up there with everyone, and it’s a long time coming I would say.”

Now that he has a title and a bright future, Nuno is more than happy to let the trusted people around him help shape where that future goes, as long as he can continue to grow as a fighter in his own right.

“I leave it in the hands of Robert Follis and Matt Lindland,” explained Ed. “I go where they send me. I always tell Matt, ‘You set it up and I’ll take care of the rest.’ So it’ll be up to him.”

“There’s still a lot I need to learn and want to learn. During this fight I found a lot of things I want to improve on. I thought I would be totally excited about having a belt, but I think I was more excited on the things that I saw that I think I need to learn. So after a little bit of rest, I’ll be back in there trying to fix those things and we’ll go from there,” continued Nuno.

As Ed Nuno continues to grow and add more experience you can bet that wherever he goes, it won’t belong before he gets his chance to shine on the national stage.

“I want to thank Matt Lindland and Robert Follis, they’re great coaches and I hope they’ll be my coaches until the end,” said Ed. “I want to thank Residential Lending Group; they’re my first sponsors and I definitely want to say thank you to them.”

Nuno concluded, “I don’t know exactly what’s in my future, but I want to thank everyone for going [to the show] and supporting us. Like I’ve said before, it’s all in the crowd, the more people [there] the more pumped up I get.”