As fight fans who follow the regional scene know, we rarely get to see match ups between local notable fighters against in-state notable opponents. The recipe for the regional scene has always been built around locals fighting out of state competition so our locals aren’t put behind in their career track by a fellow local. While that idea has worked for many fighters, Bellator’s arrival in New Mexico has erased that precedent and set its own.
Starting with Judgement MMA’s Adrian Cruz and Jackson-Winklejohn’s Nick Gonzales matched up in a bantamweight fight, the trend of locals versus locals will continue when regional MMA journeyman Ran Weathers (16-12) paired with Mean 1 MMA’s Kevin Croom (7-4). It will be a match up between two southern based fighters as Croom will be coming out of Rio Rancho and Weathers has spent time at several gyms in Albuquerque.
Croom will be entering the cage with a heap of momentum as he brings into the cage a two fight win streak including an incredible performance in his 42-second knockout win over Brian Davidson in early January. Croom has stayed busy; fighting four times since the last time his opponent even stepped into the cage.
Weathers was last seen in action in June of 2012 where he would lose a five round unanimous decision. While Weathers has fallen on some less then fortunate times in his MMA career, his extensive experience should have him geared properly to make his resurgence. A win over a hot name in Croom will be step one to doing so.
The Mean 1 MMA fighter Croom is a very durable and tough draw for anyone and that includes the veteran in Weathers. Croom is a stalking striker that is often seen absorbing strikes to get inside to start working single and double legs. One of the more impressive facets of Croom’s game is that he throws very straight punches and utilizes head movement in a way that makes it very difficult to time and makes for a hard to hit target.
Croom has secured several victories by submission which simply makes the Rio Rancho fighter dangerous on the ground as he is just as durable on the ground where Croom will begin hunting for limbs or chokes to attempt to the turn the tables with his grappling ability. His gritty nature creates a match up problem for opponents as they have to be weary of his ability to win a fight through toughness alone. Croom is definitely not afraid to turn the fight into a dog fight.
The regional veteran Weathers is very durable as he has only lost twice in twelve losses by a stoppage and very aggressive in his style finishing thirteen of sixteen career victories. Weathers has game changing power which was best shown earlier in his career when he stopped eventual Ultimate Fighter winner Diego Brandao by technical knockout.
Where Weathers increases in danger for his opponent is with intangibles; the game Weathers is full of pressure and even when pushed back will still fight through fatigue or strikes to come forward. Not only does his power and will to fight become a problem for opponents but it can also be quite frustrating.
An “X-factor” in this fight may be the preparation for the two featherweight 145-pound fighters. Croom has has extensive time to prepare while Weathers is a short notice fill-in. Since we do not know the condition Weathers is in stepping in on two week notice, his cardio will be the “X-factor” come fight night.
This fight should be a very tough and interesting clash of two different fighters who carry in a much different approach to utilizing their skill sets. Croom’s tough nosed, pressing style against Weathers and his ability to wear a fighter down with his forward pressed style. Croom’s finishing ability in a dog fight against the experienced veteran in Sanchez may be contrasted by Weathers ability to absorb punishment and fight back with his fight ending skills. The fight may be decided by which fighter is able to fight at the desired pace, which may end up being a grueling pace set by the more aggressive fighter.
SWFight.com is excited for the local match ups and stay tuned right here for more event coverage and fight breakdowns and as always we encourage our New Mexico fight fans to support all of our local athletes competing February 28th at the Santa Ana Star Center for Bellator 91.