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January 17, 2012

CES Press Release--Get Ready For Liftoff--

Hendricks, Diekmann hoping to use heavyweight showdown as launching pad

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Jan. 17, 2012) – This is what veteran fight fans and historians would call the classic pick-‘em fight, two heavyweights standing toe-to-toe with an equal shot at winning, and an equal amount to gain or lose depending on the outcome.

At 35 years old, both Josh Hendricks and Josh Diekmann are in the latter stages of their respective careers, yet both stand on the cusp of reaching the sports’ proverbial mountaintop as they prepare to face one another Friday, Feb. 3, 2012 in the co-main event of “Extreme Measures,” presented by Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports at the Twin River Event Center in Lincoln, R.I.

Diekmann (12-3, 8 KOs) and Hendricks (18-8, 5 KOs) have traveled different paths to reach this stage. Diekmann, a Westerly, R.I., native who now lives and trains in Groton, Conn., is coming off back-to-back knockout victories after rediscovering his passion for mixed martial arts in recent years, while Hendricks, a former Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) contender from Mansfield, Ohio, is looking to prove he still belongs at the top of the ladder.

A mutual respect for one another has developed between the two fighters based off the fact each one realizes the opponent standing across from him on Feb. 3 could be the last – and most difficult – obstacle on the path to greatness.

“Diekmann’s a tough guy,” Hendricks said. “This will definitely tell me where I’m at in this game, and where I stand.”

“I’m not taking him lightly,” Diekmann countered. “I’ve got to keep it where I’m comfortable and where he’s least comfortable. It might take me a minute to figure that out, but I will. I can’t afford to be overwhelmed by his title of ‘UFC veteran.’”

The bright lights of the Twin River Event Center won’t faze either fighter on Feb. 3, especially Hendricks, who faced Gabriel Gonzaga three years ago on the undercard of “UFC 91” in front of more than 14,000 fans at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Frustrated by all the broken promises through the years, Hendricks had almost given up on reaching the UFC until he received an unexpected phone call from his agent, Ken Pavia.

“He said to me, ‘I told you I’d make your dream come true,’” Hendricks said.

After winning 10 of 11 fights in a two-year span, Hendricks got the call he had been waiting for his entire life. He inked a four-fight deal with the UFC, but the euphoria wore off quickly. After losing to Gonzaga by knockout in just 61 seconds, the UFC immediately dropped him from the roster.

“You’ve got to win, or at least look good losing,” Hendricks said. “I didn’t do either one.

“I was overwhelmed. I had watched all of those UFC events from one angle on the camera, and now all of a sudden the camera was turned on me. You say to yourself, ‘When I get there, I’ll do this …’ but, for me, the wheels all came off at once.

“I don’t think I’m a better fighter than Gonzaga, but I would’ve liked to have competed better.”

Despite losing three of his last five fights since the showdown with Gonzaga, Hendricks firmly believes he has a shot at making it back to the UFC, but won’t know for sure until after he steps into the cage with Diekmann.

He’s as confident now as he’s been in years, mainly because there are fewer distractions in his life. After losing to Gonzaga, Hendricks spent more time focusing on his family, trying to raise his 1-year-old son while balancing his mixed martial arts’ career. Now that his son is 4, Hendricks has shifted his attention to his upcoming opponent; he recently spent a month in Brazil training with UFC veterans Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and current heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos.

“Things had to go in a different direction for a while. Now I seem to have gotten back into basic training,” Hendricks said. “My life is a lot different now.”

Diekmann can relate. A former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) contender, he hit rock bottom two years ago following a first-round loss to Christian Morecraft in Plymouth, Mass. Morecraft eventually moved on to the UFC, leaving Diekmann to question whether or not he still wanted to continue his career.

“I did some soul-searching. I started asking myself questions,” Diekmann said. “I had reached a point where it wasn’t fun anymore. I didn’t want to go to the gym, or go to fights.

“When I fought Christian, I had taken a long time off. There were other fights I could’ve taken, but he was the No. 1 contender, so me being the dummy I am, I decided to take the fight. I really didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere at the time. I was rusty.”

Since then, Diekmann has put more focus into his training, working with Rhode Island-based Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist Tim Burrill and members of Team Tri-Force MMA in Pawtucket, R.I.

“I’m finally having fun again,” Diekmann said. “I’m fighting because I’m training, not just training to fight. The fight is like the reward. I just think I’m around the right people now. It’s a good vibe. I feel like I belong, and I’m having fun learning a lot of new things.”

“Tim has made a huge difference in Josh’s career,” said Diekmann’s manager, Jay Jodoin. “Tim is a deep-minded guy, not only with Jiu-Jitsu and fighting, but overall with his students. He’s a great guy. This has done a lot for Josh.

“He’s really training to make a run at it before age limits him. We’re really hoping this upcoming fight catapults him to the next level, and we’re confident with Tim on our side. Tim has given Josh a home; for a while, he really didn’t have one.”

Diekmann’s resume is similar to Hendricks’ in that they’ve both been willing to fight anyone at any time; in addition to Morecraft, Diekmann also squared off against UFC veteran Justin Eilers in 2006 and handed Pat Schultz the first loss of his career in 2007. He also knocked out former Bellator Fighting Championships contender Randy Smith in March. Next month’s showdown against Hendricks could be another step in the right direction.

“A lot of guys fight for different reasons. At first, I wanted to prove something, or I wanted respect,” Diekmann said. “Right now, I’m here because I want to be. I’m having fun.”

Added Hendricks: “The last time I lost two in a row, I got determined and put up 10 wins. I’ve got two losses now, but I’ve got to win this one before I can worry about the next fight.”

The second half of the co-main event on Feb. 3 will feature heavyweight Eric Bedard (3-0, 1 KO) of Providence, R.I., facing Tyler King (3-1, 1 KO) of Norwood, Mass. Bedard and King are ranked No. 6 and 8 in the northeast, respectively.

“Extreme Measures” features two additional top-ranked fighters in the northeast as No. 1-ranked featherweight Saul Almeida (11-1) of Framingham, Mass., will battle Pawtucket, R.I., veteran Jeff Anderson (10-5, 2 KOs), and No. 1-ranked light heavyweight Greg Rebello (13-3, 7 KOs) of Providence will face veteran Mike Stewart (5-3, 2 KOs) of White Plains, N.Y.

Three fighters will make their professional debuts, including welterweight Brennan Ward of New London, Conn., facing Lowell Zangri (1-0) of Manchester, N.H.; flyweightDan Cormier of Cranston, R.I., battling Fred Mandracchia (1-3) of Weymouth, Mass.; and standout amateur Joe Pingitore of Johnston, R.I., facing featherweight Pedro da Silva (1-3, 1 KO) of Lowell, Mass.

Undefeated lightweight Andres Jeudi (3-0, 1 KO) of Dorchester, Mass., will face Tim O’Connell (4-3) of Wakefield, R.I.; featherweight Sean Soriano (4-0) of Providence will put his unbeaten record on the line against Lee Metcalf (5-5, 2 KOs) of Rockland, Mass.; welterweight Shawn Summey (2-0, 2 KOs) of Dedham, Mass., will battleKevin Horowitz (3-4) of Queens, N.Y.; and bantamweight Andre Soukhamthath (0-1) of Woonsocket, R.I., will aim for his first professional win against Gilvan Santos(0-2) of Framingham, Mass. Pawtucket’s Pete Jeffrey (4-4, 2 KOs) will also be featured on the undercard.

Tickets for “Extreme Measures” are $35.00, $55.00, $100.00 and $125.00 and can be purchased by calling CES at 401.724.2253/2254, online at, at the Players Club booth at Twin River, or through any TicketMaster location. Doors open 6 p.m. with the first bout scheduled for 7.

(Twin River has waived its 18+ rule for “Undisputed.” Anybody under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult and must enter through the West entrance.)

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