Heatherly vs Kocani - Main Event Preview
Though many in the know may not even realize it, but an alluring main event is slated for Friday's Cage Fighting Events at the Heart of St. Charles.
In one corner, you have a young fighter well-known around the St. Louis MMA circles. In the other is a newcomer to the region who some will likely think that his name on the poster is a typo.
Either way, welterweights Chris Heatherly and Gert Kocani have the skills and know-how to make it a fight to remember.
At a steady pace, Heatherly has climbed the evolution ladder in MMA. Heatherly was named the 2012 Breakout Fighter of the Year.
We've interviewed Heatherly several times over the last year, so we thought we'd try something a little different. Above is a video interview with ‘Stump', where he talks about Kocani and what's in store for Friday night. Below, you will find a brief Q&A where we ask the Fit or Fight product some questions related and not-related to MMA.
Kocani has set up at Luigi Fioravanti's new gym in St. Louis, Kakuto Dojo MMA. Don't forget to keep on reading past the Heathlery Q&A to find out more about Kocani, where he came from, and what skill sets he will bring to the table on Friday night.
Also make sure you check out the video interview with Stump at the bottom of the article.
A quick Q&A with Stump
Walkout song: "Champion," by a local rap artist, Peete Roze. It's been my walkout song since Day 1 when I turned professional.
Favorite finish: Head kick knockout.
Past jobs: A movie store, mechanic on racing go-karts. (Heatherly currently works at Brinks and owns his own lawn care business)
Favorite cuss word: I use the f-word quite a bit.
What job would you like to have: I would love to continue this run at professional fighting. Also, if I can keep my lawn care business rolling and branch out to other states.
What job would you not like to have: Brinks may not sound the worst place in the world, but it's at the top of my list right now.
Favorite movie: Vision Quest and Knockaround Guys.
First car: A 1994 Dodge Dakota truck. It was my grandfathers. He was an over-the-road truck driver and from the age of six to 12, I road with him quite a bit. We hit every state except Alaska and Hawaii. He died from cancer and passed it on to me.
First concert: Eminem. I couldn't believe all of the weed that was being smoked. It was like Mardi Gras before the concert. For a 16-year-old, it was pretty eye-opening.
Supplements: One of my weaknesses is that I don't stick with a proper diet. At one point I was 260-pounds and have made it down to 170 and I tried a lot of stuff along the way. I take the basic protein drinks and complex amino acids and some potassium to help with cramping during the cut. But hard work and dedication is the only real supplement that I believe in.
Batman or Spiderman: Spiderman all day. He's the only one than can shoot stringy substances on people and get away with it.
Must-see TV: I'm a fiend for ‘Black Gold,' anything to do with the UFC or The Ultimate Fighter, and I have to admit that I'm a sucker for ‘Buckwild.'
Introducing Gert Kocani
At 30-years-old, Gert Kocani is starting to hit his stride.
Kocani got into MMA during his stint in the Army. He began fighting at the amateur level in Florida in 2007 and went pro in 2008.
"I joined the Army Combatives because a lot of the people I hung around with loved watching Pride and that is where I started to train in jiu-jitsu," Kocani said.
Based in Florida, once Kocani as done with the Army, he joined up at American Top Team - one of the most prestigious MMA schools in the country - and the evolution continued.
Kocani started his career 4-1 and is currently 5-4. He moved to St. Louis in December of 2012 to reunite with Fioravanti, whom he met in Florida. He has lost three of his last four with his last fight coming in August, a loss to Chris Liguori.
On Friday night, Kocani is looking to take advantage of Heatherly's lack of cage time. In three out of four of Heatherly's wins, the total time amassed is under 90 seconds.
"From what I've seen of his record and one, two videos is that he's explosive and likes to go hard to finish," Kocani said. "I don't think he has really been tested and I'm looking forward to exploiting that."
Kocani is a BJJ purple belt but he doesn't exist only on the ground.
"I don't like to use (BJJ)," he said. "I like to strike. I've learned the hard way, though, that every point counts. I will have to mix it up. I've fought (BJJ) black belts and submitted them. Not to take anything away from Chris, but I'm not worried about being submitted."
It's a safe bet that few in the crowd at the Heart of St. Charles will be hoo-raying for Kocani, much less know much about him. Heatherly has a large, local following. But being the unknown is just the way Kocani likes it.
"I like to keep a low profile," he said. "I like to stay under the radar and focus."
He knows if his arm is raised in victory, the fans will come.
"I'm very excited about this opportunity and I'm looking to make the most of it," Kocani said. "I'm looking to make a name out here. I like my chances a lot with this fight. I like the odds. I think I'm better at every level and have a lot more experience."
Stump talks about the fight
We caught up with Heatherly as he was winding down training camp at Fit or Fight. They discuss a variety of topics including Stump's last fight, why he tries to entertain the fans, and what the future holds.
Ameristar Casino, Kansas City, MO
Fight Hard MMA | Sat, March 9th
Chaifetz Arena, St. Louis, MO
Shamrock FC: 316 | Fri, March 15th
River City Casino, St. Louis, MO
Shamrock FC: 317 | Sat, April 6th
Ameristar Casino, Kasnas City, MO