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July 14, 2015

Championship Belt on Line in Combat Zone MMA 54 at Rockingham Park Friday Night

[Combat Zone Press Release]

SALEM, NH (July13, 2015) - The rematch will be a grudge match when New Mexico invader Danny Abad battles local favorite Jake Pilla for the featherweight amateur championship in the main event of Combat Zone MMA 54 at Rockingham Park on Friday Night.

The last and only other time they met, in Combat Zone 52 in January, the fighters expressed a mutual respect after battling for the distance in an intense effort before the judges awarded the victory to Abad (4-2) in an unpopular unanimous decision. It was the first loss for Pilla (4-1) whose previous opponents never survived through the first round, with three of those four being dispensed with in only seconds.

"A loss is a loss," said a gracious Pilla, who captured the vacant featherweight title in Combat Zone 48 and then defended it in Combat Zone 50. "I have no excuses. He beat me that day."

But Abad has since become more verbal, cocky and abrasive about beating Pilla, who hails from Billerica, MA and is known as "The Gorilla" for his considerable skill, in his backyard at the racetrack.

"I think he's overrated," said Abad, who is now training at the famed New Mexico mixed martial arts academy Jackson Wink and working with coach Greg Jackson, who trained UFC champions Andrei Arlovski (heavyweight), Jon Jones (light heavyweight) and Georges St. Pierre (welterweight) among others. "He's had some easy fights and then he fought someone who is a real fighter and he got his butt whipped for it."

The last tilt was supposed to be the second straight title defense for Pilla and waged through five rounds, but when Abad didn't make weight it was rescheduled to three rounds with no championship at stake. The belt will be up for grabs on Friday.

"Two more rounds and I would have finished him then," said Abad. "Everybody knows who the champ is."

Pilla has a vastly different opinion.

"I still have the belt. He is not leaving with it," said Pilla, 21, who trains with John "Doomsday" Howard and will have the UFC star working his corner. "I am ready for him. Without a doubt I am coming into this fight the best I have ever been. I am peaking at the right time. You really haven't seen me fight before, other than the Danny Abad fight. Before that I had only four-and-a-half total minutes in the cage against four opponents, so no one has ever really seen what I bring."

In addition to the championship belt, Pilla and Abad will also try to capture the Chang's Tae Kwan Do America trophy awarded to the best amateur fighter of the night.

The co-main event offers the long and eagerly awaited return of Will "The Brown Bomber" (3-3), who was undefeated and one of the most exciting and fastest rising fighters in the region until a series of injuries added up the losses in his column. In the pro MMA match at 180 pounds, the Lawrence, MA native takes on Ralph Johnson (8-14) from Worcester, MA when he steps back into the cage for his first contest in two-and-a-half years.

Derry, NH's John Santos (2-4) faces the biggest test of his young career when he takes on seasoned MMA pro Bill Jones (12-8) from Maine in a lightweight battle on the under card.

The 11-fight card presents both professional and amateur MMA and Muay Thai, one of the mixed martial art forms, and features top competitors. Doors open at 5:30 PM and the first fight will be at 7:00 PM.

Tickets are $40, $50, $75, $90 and $120 and parking at the racetrack is free. To view the entire card, get more information and purchase tickets, visit Tickets may also be ordered by calling co-promoter Jamison Kattar at 978-361-6772.

The card, subject to change, is:

Amateur Muay Thai Bouts
140 lbs.- John Bourget (0-0) Taunton, MA vs. Dakota Krol (0-0) Hooksett, NH
165 lbs.- Jeovani Tovar (1-1) Cambridge, MA vs. Matt Dubois (1-0) Boston, MA
115 lbs.- Brandy Young (2-2) Cambridge, MA vs. Elizabeth Silveira (4-3) Boston, MA
240 lbs.- Pat Menzie (0-2) Somerville, MA vs. Mark Hoxie (0-10)
 Amateur MMA Bouts
145 lbs.- Jeff Beal (0-1) vs. Zach Fritz-Kill (0-0) Boston, MA
185 lbs.- Jordan Faulkner (0-0) Plaistow, NH vs. Kristian Lombari (0-4) Methuen, MA
155 lbs.- Shawn Melanson (1-0) Nashua, NH vs. Brian Cosco (1-2) Revere, MA
* Professional Muay Thai Bouts *
160 lbs.- Elvis Gahsi (0-0) vs. Ben Peak (0-0) Boston. MA
* Professional MMA Bouts *
155 lbs.- Bill Jones (12-9) Berwick, ME vs. John Santos (2-4) Derry, NH
180 lbs. - Ralph Johnson (8-14) Worcester, MA vs. Wilfredo Santiago Jr. (3-3) Lawrence, MA
*Lightweight Amateur Title Bout *
145 lbs.- Danny Abad (4-2) Albuquerque, NM vs. Jake "The Gorilla" Pilla (4-1) Billerica, MA