Saturday Aug. 18 will be one of the biggest days of the year for the sport of mixed martial arts in Minnesota as Sterling Entertainment Group and Driller Promotions deliver Downtown Showdown IX at the Hyatt hotel in Minneapolis, MN.
The event features an incredible card which will be headlined by two of the top 155-pounders in the state as Damion Hill (5-1) battles undefeated up-and-comer Dan “The Hitman” Moret (2-0).
For Moret, the fight against Hill will be the biggest of his MMA career, and it has come alongside some major changes in his professional life. A former member of Mankato Martial Arts, Moret began training at one of Minnesota’s premier facilities, The Academy, in early July.
“I love everything about it. It’s obviously a top-notch facility and the coaching has been great,” Moret told Bleacher Report MMA. “The training partners are top-level. I liked what I had down in Mankato, but when you train with guys that are at the UFC and Bellator level and all the top local guys, it’s tough not to get better.”
Even in the short time he has been at The Academy, Moret has seen noticeable improvements to his game. Working with UFC stars like Jacob Volkmann and Bellator up-and-comers like Mike Richman has forced him to polish his skills more than ever.
“For a long time, I could just out-muscle or out-hustle people, but here that’s not the case,” Moret said. “If you leave an arm hanging, it’s going to get taken away from you.”
Richman and Volkmann have been instrumental in getting him ready for Saturday’s fight, and other teammates have also stepped in to mimic Damion Hill’s fighting style.
“Jordan Parsons does a really good job of replicating Damion Hill’s fighting style. Andre Tieva has been coming in and sparring with me, mimicking what [Damion] does,” Moret said. “I’m very fortunate to have a bunch of left-handers in the gym. I get to see that stance a lot.”
One of the best aspects of Hill’s game is simply his speed; he uses that to keep his opponents off balance and catch them with some highly unorthodox strikes.
“He’s not afraid to throw wild strikes and spinning maneuvers, Superman punches. You just have to be tight the whole time against him,” Moret said. “I think Damion poses the most threats of anyone that I’ve faced.”
Although he respects Hill’s one-punch knockout power, Moret is not going to be concerned about it going into Saturday’s contest.
“His power isn’t going to make me shy away,” Moret said. “I’ll put my power against his any day and we’ll find out on Saturday.”
Highly confident in his own ability to finish, Moret sees the fight ending in the first round, but he believes that the longer the fight goes, the better it could be for him.
“At the risk of sounding too bold, I feel like I have an advantage just about everywhere,” Moret said. “He might be a little quicker than I am, but I hit harder than him, I’m taller than him, I’m bigger than him. I feel like I can out-strike him, I feel like my wrestling and jiu-jitsu are better than his, I feel like my transition game is better than his. I don’t honestly see where he would see that he has an advantage.”
Hill himself has also said that he believes the fight will end in the first round. But for Moret, that statement from Hill just further solidifies his confidence that the fight will go his way.
“I think he’s hoping to catch me with something. That’s really his chance, to nail me with a big shot,” Moret said. “I think him saying, ‘It’ll be over in the first round,’ is maybe his prediction and also his hope. He knows that if he doesn’t nail me or he doesn’t take me down right away, then what’s he going to do?”
With a win, Moret is looking to have at least one more fight by the end of 2012. But given the wide net that his management team at Sterling Entertainment Group has cast, that fight could be in MMA, or it could be something else entirely.
“The great thing about working with Jeremy Bjornberg and all the guys at SEG is that there are opportunities to do things like professional boxing, K-1 Kickboxing, submission hunts and grappling tournaments,” Moret said. “You can find some way to compete all the time. You don’t have to take a bunch of MMA fights in a row just to try to stay busy.”
If he does go to 3-0 after a win over Hill, his next MMA opponent will be chosen very specifically.
“Obviously, with only having three professional fights after this one, and already being ranked pretty highly in the state, I’ve got to sort of pick my fights. I can’t just fight anybody to stay active. I’m not going to be fighting guys that have 25 losses just to get in there.”
Moret vs. Hill will headline the Aug. 18 fight card at the Hyatt in Minneapolis, MN. Fans in the area are encouraged to purchase tickets online or at the door for as little as $35/ea. Doors will open at 6:45pm for the all-ages show.
For those unable to attend, a free live stream will also be available through the Sterling Entertainment Group website at SterlingMN.com.
For more MMA news, fighter interviews and opinions, follow Nick Caron: @NicholasCaron.