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Lower Burrell fighter makes MMA inroads

| Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Mixed martial arts fighter Dominic Mazzotta practices mitt work with his boxing coach Paul Peterson at The Mat Factory in Lower Burrell on Wednesday December 26, 2012. Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch
Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch
Mixed martial arts fighter Dominic Mazzotta grapples with his wrestling coach Issac Greeley on Wednesday December 26, 2012, at The Mat Factory in Lower Burrell.
Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch
Mixed martial arts fighter Dominic Mazzotta practices with boxing coach Paul Peterson on Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, at The Mat Factory in Lower Burrell.

It didn't take “The Honey Badger” long to seek out his prey.

Lower Burrell's Dominic Mazzotta is climbing the ranks of mixed martial arts.

Mazzotta, who began competing in MMA as a featherweight amateur (145 pounds) in October 2010, suddenly is set to make his professional debut.

His next-level fight will be Jan. 26 against Doug Hodges at Stage AE at “Gladiators of the Cage, North Shore's Rise to Power.”

Mazzotta, 25, has compiled a 7-1 record — with five wins by submission — while fighting for the North American Allied Fight Series. In his last fight, he won the NAAFS Featherweight title, defeating Wes Hanson by unanimous decision.

“It was pretty emotional,” Mazzotta said. “Before the new year started, my goal was to win the title. When I won the title, my hard work paid off.”

Mazzotta is up for two awards — the 2012 Amateur Fighter of the Year for Ohio and the 2012 Submissioner of the Year. Mazzotta trains at The Mat Factory in Lower Burrell, where he specializes in Taekwondo, wrestling and Jiu-jitsu. He has a brown belt in Taekwondo.

Issac Greeley, an assistant wrestling coach at Burrell High School, is Mazzotta's wrestling coach. Greeley also is in Mazzotta's corner during his fights.

“A couple of years ago Dom came into our Jiu-jitsu class, and he came up to me and said ‘I want to roll with you,' ” Greeley said. “I told him ‘You know Taekwondo, you're learning Ju-jitsu but, you have to spend time learning wrestling.' ”

Mazzotta spent the next two years training with Greeley, wrestling against high school- and college-level wrestlers.

He has trained at the Jorge Gurgel Mixed Martial Arts Academy in Cincinnati, sparring with Strikeforce and Ultimate Fighting Championship fighters.

Before fighting Hodges, he will travel to New Jersey to train with former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar and former Bellator Fighting Championship lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez.

Mazzotta isn't star-struck by his sparring partners.

“I have not met someone I couldn't hang with,” Mazzotta said. “It's going to be awesome; I'm expecting not to get dominated. I'm expecting to in there and give (them) a good workout.”

Mazzotta hopes to make it to Bellator.

“I've sparred with guys in Bellator,” he said. “I know what level they are at, and I'm not far from that level. I just have to get the pro fights in and keep getting better.”

D.J. Vasil is a freelance writer.

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