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Catching up with Cella

By Brett Auten | Knuckle Junkies

The first half of Adam Cella’s 2013 was so bananas that it was bound to slow down so he could catch his breath.

Cella, out of Finney’s MMA, started the year as cast mate on Season 17 of The Ultimate Fighter where he was picked to be a member of Team Jones, as in Jon Jones, the UFC light heavyweight champ. He submitted his way onto to show, got KO’d by Uriah Hall during the show, road out the season, then went to Sweden in April. He lost that fight to standout grappler Tor Troeng at UFC on Fuel TV 9, but he came back to St. Louis on fire, and in June he was back to his winning ways with a tremendous KO of Justin DeMoney.

Cella was looking to squeeze in another fight to help keep the momentum going but a hand injury in September required surgery. He shattered his finger and tore a tendon during a jiu-jitsu practice.

“It wasn’t anything cool,” he said. “I went to put my hand down, and I don’t know if it got twisted up in the mats or whatever, but I felt a snap and I looked at it and said, this is not normal.”

It was the first time in nine years that Cella had an injury that needed surgery. He spent two weeks in a cast, then another two in a soft cast. Once the rod came out of the injured finger he was back sparring the next day.

“It’s one of those things,” Cella said. “Everybody wants to take breaks from the gym but when you can’t do something you can’t wait to get back in there. It let a fire under my ass and I came back still in pretty good shape, which was shocking.”

Cella (5-1) is slated to return to action on Jan. 18 at Shamrock FC: Demolition at Lumiere Casino.

No opponent has been named. One potential suitor, whose name has been bandied about, at least on Facebook, is local standout Chris Heatherly (7-1). Cella is obviously game for the match-up and he threw out the idea that a big venue should be considered if such a marquee match-up was to take place.

“For some reason people keep throwing around the name Chris Heatherly. I’m all for it,” Cella said. “We’ll see if we can make it happen. I don’t see it being a particularly hard fight. The deal is that’s a big fight for him, me, and St. Louis. We may wait until March when we come back here to River City, something that holds more people, a bigger venue, and really pump it up and maybe get some TV involved. We’ll see what happens.”

Being away from fighting and not having a training camp to manage and strife through has led Cella to be on the other side of the cage and to corner, heavily, over the past six months. He has gotten more out than he could have expected.

“I have helped guys in the past but I’ve always been in the backseat,” Cella said. “Now it’s cool because I’m starting to see how much of this sport that I actually know. I see guys on the ground, where I’m apparently the weakest, and I’m like, ‘block here, crossover there,’ and it works. I’m enjoying the coaching side of it. You don’t realize how much you know until you watch a fight and are breaking it down. It really hit me when I was watching Kris Craig and Andrew Berger spar. I don’t think I’m going to fight for too many more years, get out of it, and keep training these guys for bigger fights.”

Fully-recovered, Cella is ready to make another run. He’s not going to grab that coaches’ whistle full-time just yet.

“I want to get back to the UFC or a bigger show in general,” he said. “Shamrock is a great show to launch people. If you go look in the crowd you have Luigi Fioravanti, Tyron Woodley, and those guys all got started on shows like this.”

Being back at full strength has allowed Cella to take advantage of his new training partners at Finney’s MMA. Joining staples Ryan Sutton and Kevin Engle have been two gurus of the ground in American Top Team black belt Luigi Fioravanti and wrestling ace and BJJ purple belt, Andrew Sanchez.

“Me going down to 170, it’s cool having guys like Sanchez, who is a legit 85’er, you have Ryan Sutton, who is walking around at 225 and he looks like a sculpture, and Luigi is a heavy 170 and is very smart and has been around the game a long time,” Cell said. “My main thing now is to beat up Andrew Sanchez. My goal is to take him down on a consistent basis and then beat him up. He got his break at RFA and he deserved it and I think he’s better than a lot of people know but I want to make him to earn that RFA spot so he has to get through guys like me at the gym."

Training room rivalries aside, Cella has his goals set high.

"I have a little grudge with Andrew and Luigi but its all good hearted. These guys, I feel, are better than me so when I start doing what I think I can do against them, then it’s time to move on to another adversary. I’m going to tap out Ezra one day.”