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July 18, 2016

Abad defends Amateur Featherweight Title v. Marotte in Combat Zone MMA co-main event Aug. 5

[CZ Press Release]

SALEM, NH-- Although Danny "El Principe" Abad trains at New Mexico's Jackson Wink, arguably the world's most prestigious MMA gym, the Sports Club at Rockingham Park has become home for him the past few years. Now Abad returns to The Rock for his first Combat Zone MMA Amateur Featherweight title defense and takes on local challenger Brendan Marotte in the co-main event of CZ 59 "Rock On" August 5.

"This is a big fight for me," said the 20-year-old Marotte (3-1-0), who hails from Hampstead, NH is a personal fitness trainer at Title Boxing Club in Manchester. "My first fight was a loss, and then I went on a rampage and won all of my next fights. I wanted to fight for a title and found out that Danny was looking to fight once more as an amateur before he goes pro. I talked to my coaches and told them to set it up."

Marotte started training with former world lightweight champion and two-time Bellator tournament champ Rick Hawn four months ago, and his turnaround has been remarkable in his pair of appearances since. The evidence is Marotte's first round TKO via strikes in only 1:09 in Combat Zone 58 May 13 and his second round TKO via strikes in 2:08 the last time he climbed into the cage June 18.

"Rick has fixed a lot of holes that were in game. He's helped me fill in a lot of the gaps and has helped me move through," said the Pinkerton Academy grad.

Nonetheless, Abad (5-3-0), who notched the quintet of his wins at The Rock against one loss at the racetrack, is a formidable opponent.

Abad beat the previously undefeated Jake Pilla by unanimous decision in CZ 52 in January of 2015, and next time out beat Pilla again in the rematch by KO in 1:15 of the fourth round of five while capturing his belt in CZ 54 in July 2015. In CZ 56, Abad dropped down to bantamweight and defeated flyweight champion Mike Scapicchio by unanimous decision in his last fight in November of last year.

When Abad returns to the Rock, which will host Combat Zone for the final time before the racetrack shutters its doors for good Aug. 31, it will not be with the intention of surrendering his hard-earned championship.

"Absolutely not," agreed Marotte. "He's a headstrong fighter who likes to come at you. He likes to talk trash. He's going to bring his fight. I would expect nothing less than a good fight from him. He's the champ for a reason."

Abad is notorious for his abilities in the cage, and infamous for his trash talking outside of it. He knows how to get inside his opponent's head both before and during the action, and use that to full advantage.

"Danny likes to play those head games, and that's part of fighting. When you can throw somebody off inside their head, they've already lost. He can try getting inside my head, but there is no way I'm letting him do that. It's just a waste of his breath," said Marotte. "I am totally ready for that."

Marotte, who started as a boxer and switched his passion to MMA three years ago, is also ready to take the next step in his career.

 "A win in a championship fight right now would definitely put my name out there. Beating Danny, with the reputation he's built for himself while beating previous champs in different weight classes, would put me on the map among the amateurs and help me turn pro down the road," he said. "I'm very excited for this fight and can't wait to meet Danny in the cage."

Incidentally, Marotte has met Abad out of the cage. They were introduced when Marotte traveled to New Mexico to take advantage of an opportunity presented by Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone, the top welterweight in the UFC and one of MMA's most popular fighters, via his fan page.

"Danny was actually there at Jackson Wink, which is Cowboy's main gym," Marotte explained. "Danny never attacked me before this fight. He never had anything bad to say about me until it became official that he was taking this fight."

The main event is expected to be one that will go down in the annals of Combat Zone history as it pits the legendary Nuri "The Shark" Shakir (19-21) vs. Will "The Brown Bomber" Santiago- two of the Northeast's most exciting, dynamic, tough and talented pro fighters- for the vacant Welterweight Championship.

Doors to the Rockingham Park Sports Club open at 5:30 pm on August 5 and the first fight goes off at 7:00 pm. Tickets are $40, $50, $75, $90 and $120 and may be purchased at or by calling co-owner Jamison Kattar at 978-361-6772.
The top amateur fighter of the night will take home the trophy from Chang’s Tae Kwan Do America in Methuen and Lawrence, MA.
The complete card, which will be stacked from top to bottom with exciting and highly competitive bouts and featuring the region's top fighters, will be announced soon.