March 2, 2009

by Al Yu – MMAWeekly.com
(Photo courtesy of Mike Marrello)

Mike Marrello claimed the XFO heavyweight championship this past weekend. The Team Curran fighter defeated UFC veteran Sherman Pendergarst via split decision after three tough rounds.

“I am so happy with the win. I fell short a couple years ago for the 205 belt and I made it my goal to get that belt. I have had most of my career with the XFO so it was a proud moment,” elated Marrello.

“Pendergarst was strong but he just held on for the most part. I expected that from him.”

After suffering a loss to Terry Davinney last year, Marrello made the decision to move up to heavyweight. Three straight victories and a new belt around his waist, the Illinois resident feels very comfortable at his new weight class.

“It feels really natural for me because I don’t have to diet as strict these days,” revealed the former Marine. “I like fighting at 205 (pounds) but my life right now, with work and a new baby boy, makes it hard for me to put that extra effort to diet.”

Marrello was chosen as a contestant for the seventh season of The Ultimate Fighter. Previously campaigning as a light heavyweight, he cut down to 185-pounds for the opportunity to participate on the show. The weight cut proved difficult and it showed in his decision loss to Gerald Harris, which denied him entrance into The Ultimate Fighter house.

“I won three fights in a row at the weight and I feel good about it,” added Marrello. “I do feel strong at heavyweight for sure. I feel faster at heavyweight than most of the guys.”

Mike Marrello is poised to capitalize on his recent success and looks to make an impact in his new weight class.

“You can expect to see me climbing the ladder to some bigger shows soon and hope to make it a solid run all the way. Jeff (Curran) is a good manager; Jeff and my boxing coach Doug Mango have made a great combination for my success. It’s all coming together.”