Monday, January 22, 2007


Even with the UFC opening their doors to new competition due primarily to more television and pay per view programming, the jump from the grassroots is still a significant one to make. When Carmelo Marrero (6-1) finished off the American Top Team's Petrus Walker (2-2-1) with a TKO last June, he was just about to make that very jump. He leapt into deep waters against Frenchman Cheick Kongo (8-3-1) at UFC 64 last October. Zuffa's doorway has gotten wider since they increased their number of events per year, but Kongo developed a pedigree within the octagon and was a tough way to make a debut.

He excited fans with two straight stoppages in two straight months and earned some consideration as a legitimate contender. When Marrero made his entrance to the organization this past October he did it as an underdog. As a heavyweight who started polishing his takedowns and conditioning with the Rider University wrestling team, Marrero wasn't fazed by the striking dynamo Kongo from so far away.

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