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January 21, 2022

πŸ“°NEWS--πŸ“° FAULKNER CHASES MMA DREAM UP AND DOWN THE EASTERN SEABOARD




[NEF PRESS RELEASE]

 Portland, Maine (January 21, 2022)

Twice as a teenager, Zach Faulkner made a decision that was wise beyond his years to apprentice under the watchful eyes of a mixed martial arts legend.

Whether it meant walking into Marcus Davis' gym in Maine as a wide-eyed teenager or packing his suitcase and joining him in North Carolina as a young adult, Faulkner fully grasped the concept of learning from someone who had been where he wanted to go.

“I wear my kilt when I walk out. He had given that to me a couple years ago,” Faulkner said of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) veteran Davis in a recent interview with Steve Domenico of NewEnglandMMA.org for The Room Podcast. “Even when he's not here, it’s like I've still got him in my corner.”

Faulkner (4-1) will represent his mentor and wield that wisdom Saturday, February 12, when he battles “Magic” Mike Murray (3-2) for the New England Fights amateur welterweight title at “NEF 46: Decade of Dominance.” Bell time for the 10-year anniversary celebration at Aura in Portland, Maine, is set for 7 p.m.

In two prior appearances with NEF, Faulkner defeated David Hart by submission to rear naked choke in August 2017 and carved out a unanimous decision over Curtis Ouellette in August 2021.

Between those endeavors, Faulkner packed his suitcase and set out to chase his dreams in the sport. A native of Bangor, Maine, Faulkner knew those plans probably required flying away from his family and friends. He didn't initially guess the right area code, however.

“After that (2017) fight, my plan initially was to try to get down to American Top Team (in Florida) and train with those guys,” Faulkner said. “It seemed like the smartest thing to do was go to one of those bigger camps. Then I got down there and realized that as an amateur, I'm not going to get to train with those high-level guys.”

Faulkner then took a chance and tracked down Davis. It led to an invitation that turned into three bouts down south in 2018 and 2019.

“My first coach ever was Marcus Davis,” Faulkner said. “I've known him since I was 12, so I hit him up, because he was living in North Carolina now, and I was like, 'Why don't I come train with you?' So, we kind of reconnected. I was living in North Carolina for two years and had most of my amateur fights down there.”

Family needs brought Faulkner back to native soil, although he still recognizes the need to challenge himself in big-city gyms against diverse competition.

“Originally I was training down in the Boston area, and then I decided I needed to be a little bit closer,” Faulkner said. “My family is in Bangor, so long drive, Portland was not a nice drive but closer, and I'm still able to get good training in here.”

Faulkner currently is based out of Recon Fitness in Westbrook.

“I'm training with one of the best jiu-jitsu guys in Maine. Not a lot of people know about him, Henry Clark. He's an absolute killer,” Faulkner said.

“Occasionally when I'm in town I'll go to Titan Athletics in Brewer. It used to be Team Irish, and that's where I started. A lot of the guys that I started with are still there, so it's nice to go up there and see those guys and get rounds in with them.”

Already with a wealth of experience in the bank for a 22-year-old, Faulkner is fired up for a second shot at an amateur strap.

“Super excited about this. (Murray) seems like he's pretty good at promoting himself,” Faulkner said. “That will get more eyes on the fight for both of us, which will be really good. He seems like a pretty tough kid.”

Based on the scouting report he's been able to put together from a few fight films, Faulkner expects the bout to be a crowd-pleaser.

“He had a Muay Thai fight or something I saw, and he looked good in that, and he competes a lot in jiu-jitsu,” Faulkner said. “I'm sure he's going to be really good on the ground and probably have some decent striking, and obviously the guys I'm working with here get me ready for that. I think it's going to be a super exciting fight whether we're on the feet or grappling. I think we'll have good exchanges both places.”

Boxing was Faulkner's introduction to the fight game. Some of earliest childhood memories were watching a legend of the ring with his grandfather.

“He was big into Mike Tyson, and initially I wanted to try boxing. Then I watched an old UFC event, (Anderson) Silva and (Stephan) Bonnar, I think, and I thought the MMA thing looked a lot cooler than straight-up throwing hands with somebody.”

Faulkner got his feet wet by training in taekwondo.

“All I wanted to do was just spar all the time,” he recalled. “One of the guys I was training with at the dojo or whatever you want to call it, he actually went to high school with Marcus. He was like, 'Why don't you let me take you over to Team Irish?' We went over and watched the pros spar, and I said this is where I need to be if I actually want to do this. Marcus let me day one basically come in and train with the pros. Twelve years old, getting beat up by the pros, I think that's the best way to learn.”

After his fight with Ouellette, Faulkner received rave reviews from Davis, who watched online and texted his approval.

Although he missed having his idol just outside the hexagon, the trade-off was looking out to see family and friends in every direction.

“It was nice. I had more of a cheering section that I usually would have down south. It was cool to see people there from the gym before and after,” Faulkner said. “It was the most relaxed I had been before a fight, which was really weird for me. It was great to get back in front of more people that I know and come away with a win against such a tough guy. It felt really good.”

Faulkner also enjoys being back under the NEF banner.

“It's a well-run promotion in my opinion,” Faulkner stated. “They've taken care of me and given me good fights, and now probably the biggest opportunity of my amateur career right now. They've treated me well.”

An amateur title surely would enhance Faulkner's hopes of turning pro, although he's still trying to decide which weight class is the best fit for his frame and skill set.

“Initially when I started fighting at 170 it was because in North Carolina they do weigh-ins on the same day, so I didn't want to try to cut to 155 not being able to rehydrate or anything,” Faulkner said. “I feel comfortable at 170, but obviously I'm not a super tall guy. I'm only 5-10, and a lot of those guys at 170 are north of six feet. So, I think maybe ideally move down to 155, but just see how things play out. I don't feel like I get manhandled too bad at 170.”

Doors open at Aura for “NEF 46: Decade of Dominance” at 6 p.m. on Saturday, February 12. Tickets make great holiday gifts and are on sale now at www.Ticketmaster.com.

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