KJ Notebook: Fight Hard - The Return
Lucas Clay says point blank, expect aggression.
“I have learned my lesson about being too relaxed,” he said. “I have to make it a fight from the first bell to the last bell.”
Clay returns to action Saturday for Fight Hard MMA at the Chaifetz Arena. Clay was an undefeated lightweight prospect with a viral submission on his resume when he suffered the first back step in his pro career. Clay (4-1) is coming off his first loss, an epic back and forth encounter with Trey Ogden (12-3) in December. He will face Cody Carrillo (14-17) on the main card.
Clay become too complacent against Ogden his lack of urgency cost him.
“I'm always the guy looking for the Hail Mary,” Clay said. “I'm good at pulling something out of nowhere but sometimes that doesn't cut it and I had to learn it the hard way.”
Clay started to build a bit of a buzz for himself when he hit a rare buggy choke against Brant Moore in the March of last year. Clay followed that in June with a fight of the night performance win over Mike Breeden at LFA 42. The loss in December puts Clay at 4-1 and now back on the climb.
“I don't want to take anything away from Trey Ogden, but he did not fight the real Lucas Clay. He fought somebody I didn't even know,” Clay said. “That fight would not look like that 10 times out of 10. I respect the guy, a very nice guy, a very good fighter but I think I am the better fighter he just had the better night.
“It burns me,” Clay went on to say. “I know his future is so bright and I was a valuable stepping stone and it didn't sit right with me. I am nobody's stepping stone.”
Thirty-six-year-old Carillo is a veteran of over thirty professional fights dating back to the start of his career in 2011. During that time he's faced some of the best out there including James Vick, Jake Lindsey, Marcio Navarro, and Yuri Villefort among others. Surprisingly enough, not many of Carillo's bouts go the distance, setting up what could be an exciting couple rounds of action.
“(Carrillo) fights everybody and he has had some really tough fights,” St. Charles MMA head coach Mike Rogers said.
When Clay can stick to the game plan he can be as good as anyone.
“In his last fight, the guy took him down and laid on him for three rounds and I don't blame the guy,” Rogers said. “That's the way he should have done it.”
Clay is determined to get everything back on track beginning on Saturday.
“My goal is not like everyone else and to make it to the UFC. My goal is to win a world title,” he said. “And when I do that I have nothing else to prove to anybody let alone my self. That was the goal when I got into this.”
Elmar Umarov was once considered one of the best rising talents in the St. Louis area, but bad luck with finding fights has seen Umarov only register one professional fight since turning pro in 2017.
But the lack of action means lack of confidence as Umarov is ready to kick start what hopefully is a busy 2019.
“All these guys, I don't want to say they're scared because they're not, they are just not ready to take fights with me because they know the level of grappling I come with is a level nobody around here has seen,” Umarov said. “Expect a world-class performance by me.”
Umarov will face Carl Jefferson on the main card.
“The guy is a really good striker and he doesn't have a lot of holes,” Rogers said. “Elmar is just going to have to stay tight and win the fight by out-technique the guy.”
Umarov moved to St. Louis from Idaho in 2015 and had two fights local, 7-0, and made pro debut on his birthday in 2017. Since then, opportunities have been scarce.
“I have had about 10 fighters back out on me,” Umarov said. “But one thing I know is, I don't want to rush anything at the same time it is frustrating. You can train and all of that but fighting is different. It sucks not fighting.”
Rogers points to Umarov's versatility as a difference maker.
“Nothing stands out as a No. 1, he's a killer at this,” Rogers said. “He has deceptive jiu-jitsu, good striking, good wrestling.”
Umarov is looking for three more fights this year in order to help spread his name.
“My goal is not to be in a big promotion,” he said. “My goal is to get wins and when you get wins, you'll be there anyway and be smart.”
Full card: (Subject to change)
Joe Estrada vs Demetrius Wilson – Main event
Bo Kunz vs Jordan Mitchell – Co Main
Lucas Clay vs Cody Carrillo
Elmar Umarov vs Carl Jefferson
Antwaun Mosely vs Sharky Slyter
Gaston Marabotto vs Kevin Brown
Jamese Taylor vs TJ McDermott
Richard Jones vs Austin Cornell
Wille Henderson vs Sebastian Grant
Luis Felipe vs Jason Newman
Fight Hard MMA "The Return"
Saturday, March 9th
Chaifetz Arena, St. Louis, MO
Ameristar Casino, Kansas City, MO
Nemesis Fighting Alliance | Sat, June 22nd
Casa Loma Ballroom, St. Louis, MO
Shamrock FC 320 | Sat, July 13th
Ameristar Casino, St. Louis, MO