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. takes you deep inside the sport and presents you with some of the upcoming New Blood.

By Mick Hammond // MMAWEEKLY.COM

Chas Skelly

Record: 10-0
Key Victories: Luis Vega, Daniel Pineda
Weight Class: 145 lbs.
Age: 27
Country: United States

Looking back on his third-round TKO win at Legacy FC 16, undefeated featherweight prospect Chas Skelly sees both the positives and negatives of his performance.

“There are a lot of things that I could’ve done better that I didn’t do because I was trying to set him up for a certain submission the first couple rounds, but it wasn’t working,” says Skelly. “It should have been a 30-second fight, instead of three rounds. The good thing is, I learned a lot from that fight, and it was a very valuable experience for me, so I can’t say too many bad things about it.”

That veteran-like outlook comes on the heels of a successful comeback following a two-year layoff. Skelly’s three wins in three fights in 2012 couldn’t have been more successful.

“In 2010, I suffered an injury that put me out for a year, then in 2011, I tried to come back from the injury and got hurt again,” he says. “Finally getting back in there and getting great coaching and training partners at Team Takedown, things are going great for me. It’s nice to get back in there and get a few wins under my belt. Last year went better than I could have ever expected.”

Having fought in Bellator before his injury, Skelly is looking forward to getting back to that level and finishing what he started prior to his layoff.

“Now that I’m back and rolling and feeling good, I know I can push myself just like I used to before I got hurt—that’s a huge step for me,” says Skelly. “Hopefully, I’ll get a call up to the big time.”

Matt Hobar

Record: 6-1
Key Victories: Steven Peterson, Aaron Cerda
Weight Class: 135 lbs.
Age: 26
Country: United States
Nickname: Crowbar

Legacy FC bantamweight prospect Matt “Crowbar” Hobar may have suffered the first defeat of his career in 2012, but it was the rather odd finish to the fight that left a sour taste in his mouth.
“Four minutes into the first round, he [Steven Peterson] pressured into me, and I threw a looping overhand left punch that landed on top of his shoulder,” says Hobar. “My elbow actually popped out of
its socket.”

Luckily, Hobar’s dislocation was a clean one. Two months later he was ready to fight again, and Legacy FC signed the rematch. Hobar managed to control much of the second fight on his feet and earned a majority decision. For the normally ground-based fighter, winning the bout without having to take it to the mat was a big step forward in the evolution of his fight game.

“This is the first fight I stood all three rounds and banged with the guy,” says Hobar. “I’m a wrestler, so I’m always taking it to the mat and trying to get a submission or ground-and-pound. I actually controlled the whole fight from my feet, so I’m very happy with that.”

The win gets Hobar back on track, and with a 6-1 record, possibly into title contention.

“I’d like to fight for the Legacy FC Bantamweight Championship—that’d be great,” says Hobar. “I also know that you have to make those fights happen, so I’m going to take things one fight at a time and look for good match-ups that are entertaining and bring in the fans.”

Ryan Benoit

Record: 6-1
Key Victory: Joseph Sandoval
Weight Class: 135 lbs.
Age: 23
Country: United States
Nickname: Baby Face

While bantamweight prospect Ryan “Baby Face” Benoit was expecting a win in his bout against Joseph Sandoval at Legacy FC 16, the way it came about was completely unexpected.

“I ended up catching him with a straight right hand,” says Benoit. “I wasn’t expecting him to go down. Usually, when you’re trying to really grind your punches, you can feel them land and expect a reaction, but that one, I just kind of threw it out there and he happened to go down. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
The win capped off a banner year for Benoit, who went undefeated in his three fights and raised his record to 6-1. Perhaps more noteworthy for Benoit was the fact that 2012 was the first time in years that he was completely healthy when he stepped into the cage.

“I’ve had to take some big layoffs in between fights early in my career, going almost an entire year without a fight because of hand injuries,” he says. “I ended up breaking my hand one time this year, but it wasn’t too bad, and I think I was only out for six weeks of training. I’ve already had four hand surgeries during my career and to not have to go through that this year was a huge relief.”

Benoit feels his hand issues came simply because he started as a wrestler and hadn’t yet developed the proper striking technique. Along with becoming more refined in his stand-up game, Benoit says that he’d like to be more comprehensive in his training environment.

“One thing I’d like to have more of is a team structure,” he says.
Benoit feels he’s made the right moves forward to warrant bigger opportunities in the near future. He also hopes that a move down in weight will allow him to better capitalize on those opportunities when they should arise. With the UFC opening up career sustainability for 125-pounders, if Benoit keeps going the way he did in 2012 (two knockouts and a submission finish), the 23-year-old prospect could be entertaining bigger opportunities in the near future.

“I think I’ve done well and have started to pay my dues a little bit,” he says. “My last four fights have been on AXS TV, and I’ve finished all of them. My last three fights, I’ve finished in the first round. I feel comfortable in front of the cameras, so I’m ready for whatever comes. I’d like to start making my drop to 125 pounds. I’ve seen these guys at 135 pounds, and they’re huge. Even though I look muscular, they’re a little bit bigger than me. I think if I can make the weight, I can be a force at 125 pounds.”

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