New Blood

Mixed martial arts is the fastest growing sport in the world. It garners more attention and new fans daily. The emergence of so many new athletes sometimes makes it hard for fans to notice some of the fighters on the verge of making it to the next level. MMAWeekly.com takes you deep inside the sport and presents you with some of the upcoming New Blood.

 

JOHN CHOLISH

 

RECORD: 6-1
KEY VICTORIES: Marc Stevens, Rich Moskowitz
WEIGHT CLASS: 155 pounds
AGE: 27
COUNTRY: United States

 

It’s not often that you come across a fighter who is as comfortable on Wall Street as he is in the cage, but that’s exactly what you get in John Cholish. A member of Team Renzo Gracie, Cholish is a former Cornell wrestling standout who now holds a 6-1 record as a pro MMA fighter, while holding down a day job as a stockbroker on Wall Street.

 

It’s a rarity that a graduate from an Ivy League school is jumping into the cage to start fighting, but when his wrestling career was over and the fast-paced world of buying and selling stocks still left a void, Cholish looked for another outlet.

 

“I’ve pretty much been wrestling since I was four years old,” says Cholish. “After I graduated from Cornell, I started working at Morgan Stanley in Manhattan, which conveniently happened to be a block away from Renzo’s gym. I figured jiu-jitsu would be fun, so I went in there one day and started training no-gi and then had the gi on in a month or two. John Danaher gave me my blue belt within three months, and I was hooked.”

 

That lead to training with the likes of Georges St-Pierre, Kenny Florian, Frankie Edgar, and Ricardo Almeida, and stepping into the cage. From the outside looking in, it might be hard to find the comparisons between mixed martial arts and the financial world, but the similarities are definitely there—both are frenetic jobs where careers can be made or broken on a dime and both require mental toughness.

 

In just three short years, Cholish utilized that mental toughness to capture the Ring of Combat Lightweight Championship with a submission of Rick Moskowitz. That lead to a shot on the undercard of Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva in New Jersey. Cholish made the most of his opportunity, submitting Marc Stevens in the second round. Cholish has finished five of the six opponents he has defeated.

 

It’s his own competitive nature that led Cholish to becoming a stockbroker and a mixed martial artist, and he’s passionate about both. While many fighters hang up their day job at the first chance they get when big promotions come calling, he has no intention of walking away. As a matter of fact, Cholish believes leaving his day job is the last thing he plans on doing.

 

“I truly believe when I get to the next level, which is obviously my goal, I could still work a full-time schedule,” says Cholish. “I think I can burn the candle at both ends, at least for a couple more years. I don’t think there’s any reason to be lazy about it.”

 

JUSTIN SALAS

 

RECORD: 8-3
KEY VICTORY: Robert Emerson
WEIGHT CLASS: 155 pounds
AGE: 28
COUNTRY: United States

 

For lightweight prospect Justin Salas, the path has been simple: set goals, achieve them, and then move on. It is upon this foundation that he has found his success in MMA.

 

“Last year, we had a list of things we wanted to get done,” Salas says. “Number one was to get a title, and since then, I’ve won two. Another marker was to beat a UFC caliber guy, which was something I accomplished with my last win.”

 

The fight that Salas is speaking of is his win over UFC veteran Rob Emerson for the Full Force MMA Lightweight Title. Despite injuring his foot in the first round, Salas was able to produce the kind of performance that he hopes will become his staple in the years to come.

 

“I dictated the fight,” he says. “If I wanted to stand, I stood, and when I decided to take it to the ground, we went to the ground. It allowed me to control the whole pace of the fight.”

 

Coming from a wrestling background, Salas has been able to make the transition to MMA with help from some of the best trainers and fighters in the business at the Grudge Training Center in Colorado and Jackson’s MMA in New Mexico. Having an opportunity to work with such high-level talent, Salas knows that his fight game is improving every day.

 

“I think people have set criteria out there, and I feel like I’ve met those challenges,” says Salas. “I’d like to get in there and get my chance, but at the same time, you can’t waste too much time worrying about it. If they give me the shot, I’ll take it. If not, I’m just going to look forward to the next step and take it one fight at a time.”

 

DARRELL MONTAGUE

 

RECORD: 9-1
KEY VICTORIES:Ulysses Gomez, Jeremy Bolt
WEIGHT CLASS: 125 Pounds
AGE: 23
COUNTRY: United States
NICKNAME: Mongoose

 

Flyweight fighters in the United States don’t get much attention. World Extreme Cagefighting did not have a flyweight division before it merged into the UFC. The UFC has plans on tap, but there is no 125 pound weight class currently on the books. Strikeforce? Nope. However, there is an ever growing roster of fighters that are pioneering the fly weightclass. Darrell Montague is one such fighter.

 

Under the guidance of Romie Aram and Bettis Mansouri at Millennia MMA and training alongside WEC veterans Manny Tapia and Charlie Valencia, Montague has quickly made huge strides in the sport.

 

Fighting professionally for three years, at just 23 years of age, he hasn’t wasted time spinning his wheels. Montague racked up a 41 record in the first year of his career alone. His record now stands at 91, finishing all but two of the fights he has won.

 

Montague’s greatest achievement was also his greatest performance. He stepped into the co main event of Tachi Palace Fights 8, challenging Flyweight Champion Ulysses Gomez, a fighter who most pundits expected to help break out the division when the bright lights of the bigger leagues came calling.

 

Montague catapulted himself into the upper echelon of the class by dominating Gomez. He put on a performance reminiscent of UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz, taking Gomez completely out of his game for the entire fight. When Gomez wanted to go to the ground, the only times he got there were courtesy of Montague’s striking.

 

For the duration of the five rounds, Montague chopped away at Gomez with a wide array of strikes and kicks. He threw everything in his arsenal, and he worked from high to low at all angles.

 

Montague walked out of the cage with a unanimous decision and the Tachi Palace Fights Flyweight Title around his waist, immediately making him one of the hottest properties in the burgeoning division.

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