by: Jonathan King The Clinch Report
Only a small percentage of gladiators lived long enough too fight in Rome. However every single one hoped too not only live, but those that embraced this barbaric path dreamed of fighting on the grandest of all stages the Roman Colosseum. Since then nations have risen and fallen, with that gladiator code still festering in the few who continued the fighting spirit.
Today the closest thing we have to the Gladiator is the mixed martial artist, and the UFC is the only stage as grand or at least comparable too the Colosseum. Like the warriors before Mike Bruno (11-4 MMA) and Vagner Rocha (7-3 MMA 1-2 UFC) have been in each others company previously, coming through the ranks. However with a 3 fight stint in the UFC only Rocha has tasted the nectar of the UFC gods, a thirst he longs for still, and one he shares with Bruno
Although it is a normal scenario for Howard Davis’s Fight Time Promotions to feature a young promising fighter, against a UFC vet trying to get back to the show. This fight is anything but ordinary. Bad blood fueled by a team split, jealousy, and smack talk has led too a genuine feeling of disgust shared by both fighters. “When Vagner made it to the UFC, I was extremely jealous, and being young I made the mistake of running my mouth” Bruno said. Before the Brookins fight, Mike Bruno was heard on the Rudolfo Roman Show begging Brookins “To smash” his former teammate.
A salvo that Rocha believes was from a jealous ex-teammate. “I have openly apologized, because I was in a bad spot, but he apparently he is interested,” Bruno said. Animosity between opponents is common, however the war of words between the two has at times, become quite volatile. Recently Rocha called out Bruno for being a jealous boring fighter, that lacked any quality finishing skills. With Rocha becoming more aggressive, the war of words was back on and has become increasingly personal. “I was willing to let it go, and just be professional, but either way the outcome will be the same, with me smashing him,” Bruno said, seemingly content to let his performance speak for itself.
The match up of styles adds to the intrigue of this bout. Rocha the savvy Brazilian Ju Jitsu veteran, is slick on the ground and possesses lethal submission skills from any position. “I know he is world class on the ground, he used to train at Top Team”, Bruno said. “He also has a very tough chin”, said Bruno referring to Rocha’s UFC fight with title contender Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone, who peppered Rocha for three rounds, before winning a unanimous decision. With his world class wrestling pedigree the younger stronger Bruno is not afraid to enter the Brazilians world. “I have no problem putting my wrestling against his jujitsu.” Bruno said.
As the promotion stalwart, Bruno has fought victoriously 4 times in Fight Time, and in the main event 3 times. Training daily with American Top Team has enabled Bruno to grow tremendously with MMA veterans such as: Mike Brown, Cole Miller, Hector Lombard, Stefane Dias (strength coach), Thiago Alves. His arsenal continues to improve.
At the helm of this project is Mike’s older brother and UFC veteran Steve ‘Hollywood’ Bruno, who also recently began fighting with the promotion. As a dynamic striker Steve has chiseled away at his younger brother, turning a power wrestler, into a well round mixed martial artist capable and comfortable wherever the fight may go. “Steve has been an amazing mentor for me, not only as my brother, but he has a very high MMA I.Q., he knows the business inside out,” Bruno said. With both Bruno’s scheduled to compete on this card, its sure to be a family affair.
Fight Analysis: Besides his wrestling and improved striking skills, Mike Bruno is freakishly strong at 155 lbs. He is notorious for is Rampage-esque slams, and his relentless ground-and-pound attack. Once in a dominant position, Bruno’s hands drop like pile-drivers, at lighting speed. His elbows are lacerating, and they seem to finish beneath his opponents. Vagner Rocha is very experienced and on paper his jujitsu is more refined. He will look to capitalize on a mistake, and try to catch an over aggressive Bruno. Although a very close match-up on paper, it seems Bruno has several advantages, with Rocha only holding one.
Prediction: Mike Bruno via TKO rd 2. I cannot see Rocha stopping Bruno’s relentless power doubles, or his ground and pound.