By Thomas Gerbasi
When it was announced earlier this year that the WEC organization was dropping the light heavyweight and middleweight divisions to focus on the four weight classes from bantamweight to welterweight, many wondered what would happen to fighters such as WEC 205-pound champion Steve Cantwell.
Well, on December 10th, fans won’t need to search too hard for the 22-year old Las Vegan, as he will make his UFC debut against fellow newcomer Razak Al-Hassan in an intriguing light heavyweight bout on the “Fight For The Troops” card at the Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
“I'm extremely thankful, it's a dream come true for me,” said Cantwell of fighting in the UFC. “But it is definitely something I can't take for granted. Not everyone gets a chance to make a dream come true. And this is just the beginning; without hard work, dedication, focus, perseverance and heart it can quickly turn into a nightmare.”
This special Spike TV live event, which is headlined by the welterweight clash between Josh Koscheck and Yoshiyuki Yoshida, will raise funds to build a hospital for traumatic brain injuries for the brave men and women in the United States Armed Forces. Thousands of soldiers from nearby Fort Bragg, the proud home of the U.S. Airborne and Special Operations Forces, will be in attendance.
A black belt in kickboxing under Nick Blomgren, and a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Sergio Penha, Cantwell (6-1) turned pro in 2005 with a submission win over Ultimate Fighter alumnus Richie Hightower, and moved to 3-0 before getting called to the WEC to face fellow unbeaten Brian Stann in March of 2007. Cantwell was stopped by Stann in that fight, but with back-to-back first round victories over Justin McElfresh and Tim McKenzie, he earned a rematch against the then-WEC light heavyweight champion. On August 3, 2008, “The Robot” became what would ultimately be the last WEC light heavyweight champion in history as he impressively stopped Stann in the second round.
Now, he will take the next step in his career against Des Moines, Iowa’s “Razor” Razak Al-Hassan, a Tae Kwon Do brown belt who is 6-0 as a pro and coming off a 45 second submission win over Andrew Force in September. And although the 26-year old Al-Hassan is new to the UFC, Cantwell is training as if he’s fighting for a world championship.
“To be honest with you I don't know much about Razak Al-Hassan, so in my head I'm training for a Division I wrestler, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and a K-1 level kickboxer,” he said.
UFC Fight for The Troops airs on Spike TV on Wednesday, December 10th at 9pm ET / PT.
Only 30 tickets have been made available to the public for this event, with all funds raised benefiting the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. To bid now on this ticket auction, click here.
To donate to the Fallen Heroes Fund, click here.
WEC Champ Cantwell gets Fresh Start in UFC
Thomas Gerbasi, UFC - When it was announced earlier this year that the WEC organization was dropping the light heavyweight and middleweight divisions to focus on the four weight classes from bantamweight to welterweight, many wondered what would happen to fighters such as WEC 205-pound champion Steve Cantwell.