Yinz ready to see some wrestlers make their MMA debuts at Brawl in the Burgh 12 this Saturday at the Hollywood Casino at the Meadows?
Oh yes. It’s happening.
Western PA and wrestling go together like Terrible Towels and championships. Like coleslaw and french fries. Like a freshly mowed lawn and a cold Iron City.
You get the point.
Wrestling is ingrained in Western PA’s DNA, and Saturday’s Brawl in the Burgh 12 (BitB12) brings some ultra-high-quality wrestlers front and center for the packed crowd in attendance.
Making this even more intriguing, each of these fighters makes his MMA debut. That means we literally have no clue what to expect.
Will the wrestling take over or will their opponents be able to expose their skills elsewhere?
This is what makes MMA one of the greatest sports on earth. Anything can happen at any time –– even when fighters enter the cage with pedigree like these three.
Let’s dig in.
James Lledo (0-0, Stout PGH, Current Pitt starter)
James Lledo made some waves in the regional MMA scene when he announced he’d make his MMA debut at Brawl in the Burgh 12.
That’ll happen when you’re a current starter at a Division 1 school like the University of Pittsburgh. A three-time PIAA AAA state qualifier, Lledo’s found his groove at the collegiate level, and he’s training alongside some of Pittsburgh’s best at Stout PGH.
Under the expert guidance of Mike Wilkins, Will Morrill, and company there, Lledo is honing his MMA skill set to make a splash July 9.
And he’ll need to be ready, because his opponent, Philadelphia’s Derrick Brown II, is fully dialed in and ready to roll.
Whether this fight stays standing or it hits the ground, Brown feels he’ll be the one in control.
Can Lledo overcome that in his debut?
Tony Welsh (0-0, Indio Dojo, 2016 WPIAL Champion)
Tony Welsh lit up the mats at Beth-Center throughout his high school career, snagging the WPIAL championship at 170 pounds in 2016 –– and earning runner-up honors another three times. In addition, Welsh placed at states twice (third/fifth), cementing himself as one of the best to ever do it at Beth-Center and in the region at large.
From there, Welsh went on to wrestle at West Virginia University (WVU), Waynesburg, and Pitt-Johnstown.
Now, he trains at Indio Dojo under Danillo Villefort, making him an intriguing prospect to keep an eye on moving forward.
Welsh faces Prodigy MMA’s Marquise Darnell at Brawl in the Burgh 12 –– and that promises to be a major challenge.
Even though Darnell will also make his MMA debut at the event, he went 2-1-1 for the backyard fighting club Street Beefs. That proves he’s no stranger to the fight game and he’ll be ready to go when the lights go down in Washington.
Believe us when we say: Darnell doesn’t sound worried about Welsh’s wrestling. And that makes this a fight you simply cannot miss.
Lucas Seibert (0-0, Immortal MMA, WVU wrestling grad)
Lucas Seibert made a name for himself just 45 minutes south of the Hollywood Casino at the Meadows. Wrestling at West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV, Seibert went from walk-on to starter by his sophomore season.
Injuries ultimately derailed Seibert’s collegiate wrestling career, but there’s no doubt that fact only makes him hungrier as he begins his MMA journey.
Like Lledo and Welsh, Seibert drew a tough opponent for July 9 as well.
Andy Ssutu is both older and more experienced than Seibert, and he feels confident in his own wrestling skills as well. This won’t be Ssutu’s first walk to the cage, but Seibert can’t say the same.
If he can keep the fight standing, will that negate Seibert’s bread-and-butter and put him on the defensive in his MMA debut?
We’re about to find out July 9 at Brawl in the Burgh 12.