Hard work pays off.
The five months of rigorous training put in by Sparta Combat League MMA fighter Michael Stack resulted in exactly what he was looking for, a belt.
Following the Colorado State senior’s previous victory, which improved his SCL record to an unblemished 2-0, he executed his next move to take the SCL lightweight title.
In his first SCL fight, Stack knocked out David Jackson in 34 seconds. He kept on rolling, knocking out Austin David 43 seconds into the second round in his next fight, earning him a shot at the title. All that stood in his way was experienced title-defender Donni Bonini, who held a 5-5 SCL record.
On Saturday night, in front of friends and family at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, Colorado, Stack held the belt above his head after three hard-fought three minute rounds.
“He was a bit tougher than I expected as far as my last two matches,” Stack said. “Those I finished pretty quickly, but this one went all the way.”
There would be no knockout this go around. The winner of the fight was in the hands of the judges after both Bonini and Stack stood tall after nine minutes of MMA battling. Despite the anticipation leading into the judges’ decision, Stack was confident he won the fight.
“I knew I won every round,” Stack said. “I knew I had won. My coaches even came up and told me that I won that fight. I was expecting the W the whole time. But I was disappointed I didn’t get the finish. When you fight you want to finish, you don’t want to leave it in the judges’ hands.”
A key factor contributing to Stack’s win was his amount of takedowns. Bonini failed to get Stack to the ground once, while Stack managed to throw Bonini down in each round.
“I felt like I landed more strikes, I pushed the pace, I got the takedowns,” Stack said.
Stack’s coach, Ryan Schultz, has helped Stack improve his dominance in the ring every step of the way.
“He’s been in and out of my gym for around a year and a half,” Schultz said. “He’s come a long way. It won’t be long until we talk about him going pro. I think everyone is going to know his name in the fighting world some day.”
In the coming months, Stack will look to defend his belt in the lightweight division. After that, he is hoping to go pro and either continue to fight in the SCL or even get picked up by the UFC.
“I won’t graduate for a while so I’m probably going to have to defend it one or two times,” Stack said. “Then I think I’m going to go pro and just keep working from there. It’s all about hard work.”
Collegian sports reporter Eddie Herz can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @Eddie_Herz