Irish Eyes Are Smiling
The last time Dan O’Connor was in a main event it was his first-ever fight. Yeah, you heard that right.
“I fought up two weight classes and it was for a belt,” O’Connor said.
Oh, the ammy days.
Come Friday, O’Connor will be in a proper main event as Rumble Time Promotions returns home to the Ameristar Casino with "Destruction".
‘Johnny Irish’ will face fellow flyweight Gary Becker. Becker has just one pro fight, a loss to Lance DeClue via TKO in the second round in August, 2013. O’Connor is the more seasoned pro fighter, standing at 4-1 including one no contest.
O’Connor and Becker are very familiar with each other’s skill set. They even shared the same training room for some time. When Southside Fight Club closed its doors, many of those fighters packed their bags and ventured to Steve Berger’s Fit or Fight located in Valley Park. Becker was one of those fighters.
For six months, give or take, Becker and O’Connor were training partners and the respect was mutual. After Becker split from Berger’s rumors of a potential fight between the two started to circulate and is now coming to fruition.
While O’Connor may (and should) be looked at as the odds-on favorite Friday night, by no means does he feel it will be a cake walk.
“Gary’s very tough,” O’Connor said. “He’s hard to put away. His striking is pretty good and he’s just a scrappy guy. He’s had a lot of (amateur) fights.”
Case in point, Becker’s loss to DeClue.
“He was fighting two weight classes up and still made it a tough fight,” O’Connor said. “He got beat up pretty bad and still came back. I don’t see it as I’m just going to walk through this guy. I’m a little more refined in all aspects and a little stronger. When it comes to the clinch I’ll be able to get in tight and work and will be stronger for the takedowns. I think that’s likely where the fight will take place.”
And that’s where things could get fun.
Here are some words of advice to fans that come out Friday night. Should (or when) O’Connor and Becker hit the mat and if they spend more than 10 seconds there, suppress your primal urge to scream, “stand them up.”
Both O’Connor and Becker are super tricky and talented when it comes to their submission games. O’Connor has all three of his wins via submission. For a flyweight, Becker is long and rangy and also carries many submission tools in his belt.
“Gary has submitted me in practice before,” O’Connor said. “He’s slick. I just think I’m a notch or two better.”
While the respect is mutual, it wasn’t hard for O’Connor to drum up motivation for this fight. According to O’Connor, Becker has asked for this fight to a couple of promoters before Rumble Time put pen to paper. O’Connor was skeptical at first, pointing towards Becker’s erratic training lifestyle.
“(Gary) joined up at River City as soon as this fight was put together and I’m so glad he put in a real camp,” O’Connor said. “I had no interest in taking this fight if he was not taking his training seriously.”
However Friday night shakes out, there will be some serious partying in the O’Connor camp. O’Connor wears his Irish pride on his sleeve and with it being St. Patrick Day’s weekend, a glass or two or seven will be raised after a night of fighting.
He will just have to wait to get there.
While it’s cool to tell your friends, fans, and family that you’re fighting in the main event, from the fighter’s perspective, the hurry up and wait aspect of being the night’s closer can be a little mind numbing.
“It can get pretty boring sitting back there waiting for every fight,” said O’Connor, who co-mained in his last outing, a no-contest against Ken Porter in November. “You sit back there twiddling your thumbs. The wait is horrible. Your mind can play tricks on you.”
Pro Main Card
Dan O’ Connor vs Gary Becker
Jonathan Martinez vs Malshon Ball
Nick Dioneda vs Jordan Howard
Matt Murphy vs Ben Chesser
Rumble Time Promotions: Destruction
Friday, March 14th
Amerisar Casino, St. Charles, MO
Doors at 6 | Fights at 7:30
Scottrade Center, St. Louis, MO
Shamrock FC 312 | Sat, December 8th
Ameristar KC, Kansas City, MO
Fight Hard MMA | Sat, December 8th
Chaifetz Arena, St. Louis, MO
NFA Fight Before X-mas | Sat, December 15th
Casa Loma Ballroom, St. Louis, MO