Six-time NCAA wrestling champion and former NFL All Pro offensive lineman, Carlton Haselrig (1-0), of Johnstown, Penn., will take on dangerous knockout artist Carlos Moreno (5-2), of Elizabeth, N.J., in a top undercard fight that will precede the first mixed martial arts card shown live in primetime on network television Saturday, May 31, at the Prudential Center at Newark, N.J.
Tickets for a spectacular, highly anticipated live event, starting at $25, are available at Ticketmaster locations, by phone at (201) 507-8900, online at www.ticketmaster.com and at the Prudential Center box office (973) 757-6625. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. ET. The first live fight is at 6:30.
“Couple his fantastic experience in college wrestling with his dedication, power and brute strength and itâ€™s easy to see why many give Carlton a legitimate chance to make the difficult transition from football to MMA,â€™â€™ said New Jersey native and EliteXC Live Events President Gary Shaw, who made the official announcement Wednesday. â€œBut this is a tough fight for him. Iâ€™m really looking forward to watching all the fights on May 31. Itâ€™s really going to be a historic, significant and memorable night of mixed martial arts.”
The Haselrig-Moreno preliminary fight is one of five that will be streamed live and for free at ProElite.com. Fans also can watch pre- and post-fight interviews on ProElite.com.
Following the undercard fights, the history-making, first-ever MMA event broadcast live in primetime will take place when “CBS ELITEXC SATURDAY NIGHT FIGHTS” debuts on the CBS Television Network at 9-p.m.-11 p.m. ET/PT. Electrifying unbeaten sensation Kimbo Slice of Perrine, Fla. will be opposed by Englandâ€™s James â€œColossusâ€™â€™ Thompson in the CBS main event.
Haselrig is the only six-time NCAA champion Greco-Roman wrestler (he won three titles on both the Division I and Division II levels). In 2005, he was the sole heavyweight wrestler named to the NCAA 75th Anniversary Team that had competed in the Olympics and won either a gold or silver medal.
Despite not having played football collegiately, he was voted to the 1992 Pro Bowl just four seasons after being a 12th-round Pittsburgh Steelers draft choice. Haselrig joined the Steelers in 1989 as a member of the practice squad, saw limited action in 1990 but was a full time starter by 1991. During the 1992 season, he helped pave the way for Barry Foster to run for 12 100-yard games (tying an NFL record at the time).
Haselrig played for the Steelers (1990-1993) and the New York Jets (1995) before off the field issues derailed his career. He joins, among others, Michael Westbrook, Bob Sapp, Marcus Jones and Johnnie Morton as former NFL players who have ventured into the world of mixed martial arts.
Nicknamed â€œDonâ€™t Blink,â€™â€™ the muscular, well-conditioned Haselrig (1-0), of Johnstown, Penn., won his MMA debut with a 4:09, first-round TKO over Shane Ott on April 19, 2008, in Atlantic City.
â€œThis is just the first step in a long series of things that are going to happen,â€™â€™ Haselrig said. â€œRight now, whoever’s out there, I’m training hard, and Iâ€™m getting ready. I want anybody.â€™â€™
Haselrig had a vocal cheering section at his MMA fight, which he credited with helping him get his life back on track. â€œThanks to all the fans that came out to support me,â€™â€™ he said afterward. â€œI needed their support to give me another step of courage and confidence.â€™â€™
Moreno is a popular, crowd-pleasing, heavy-handed, hard-hitting one punch KO fighter who can take out anybody once he connects.
â€œMost of the guys Iâ€™ve fought, once they feel that one little zap from me, their whole game plan goes out the window,â€™â€™ said Moreno, who has fought the majority of his fights in New Jersey since turning pro in 2003. â€œMy background is definitely all striking and I definitely come to bang.
â€œBut Iâ€™ve worked a lot on my Jiu-Jitsu and becoming a well-rounded fighter. Haselrig may have been great wrestler and football player, but this is MMA and being one-dimensional just doesnâ€™t get it.â€™â€™
Married with two children â€“ he has a 12-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son — Moreno hails from a fighting family. His father boxed in the amateurs, and an uncle was a Green Beret.
When Moreno was offered the assignment, he says â€œmy heart almost flew out of my chest. I was so excited for the opportunity. I couldnâ€™t wait to sign for the fight. I appreciate everybody involved for making it happen for me.â€™â€™
Moreno is confident he will triumph in what by far will be his biggest and most important fight.
â€œI pretty much feel Haselrig is making a mistake by fighting me,â€™â€™ he said. â€œI am definitely taking this fight extremely seriously. I know I will be ready. I hope he is because whether we remain standing or it goes to the ground, I will be ready for it. I will be prepared for all aspects and anything he brings.
â€œMy only prediction is that this fight is going to be very exciting. Tell â€˜Donâ€™t Blinkâ€™ he had better not blink.â€™â€™
Besides the featured fight between Kimbo (2-0) and Thompson (10-8), the five-fight CBS broadcast will include: EliteXC middleweight champion â€œRuthlessâ€ Robbie Lawler (15-4) of St. Louis, by way of Davenport, Iowa, vs. Scott â€œHands of Steelâ€ Smith (13-4) of Sacramento, Calif.; Gina Carano (5-0) of Las Vegas, Nev., vs. Kaitlin Young (4-1) of Circle Pines, Minn., at 140 pounds; Phil Baroni (10-9) of Long Island, N.Y., vs. Joey Villasenor (25-6) of Albuquerque, N.M., at 185 pounds; and a heavyweight fight between Brett Rogers (6-0) of Minneapolis and Jon Murphy (4-2) of Minersville, Pa.
The Lawler-Smith fight is scheduled for five, 5-minute rounds. The others are slated for three, 5-minute sessions with the exception of Carano-Young, which is set for three, 3-minute rounds.
Other bouts streamed live at ProElite.com: Chris â€œThe Storyâ€ Liguori (7-7) of Middleton, N.J., vs. Jim Bova (3-0) of Philadelphia at 160 pounds; Nick â€œThe Mad Monkeyâ€ Serra (4-2) of East Meadow, N.Y., vs. Matt Makowski (2-0) of Philadelphia at 170 pounds; Justin Robbins (8-3-1) of St. Louis vs. Wilson Reis (3-0) of Philadelphia at 140 pounds; and James â€œBinkyâ€ Jones (6-6) of Baltimore, Md., vs. Calvin Kattar of New Hampshire at 155 pounds.
In preliminary bouts that will not be streamed at ProElite.com, Zach Makovsky (3-1) of Philadelphia meets Brazilian Andre â€œGigettoâ€ Soares (5-1) of Pinebrook, N.J., at 135 pounds; and Mike Groves (0-1) of Philadelphia faces Joe Sampieri (0-2) of Manhattan, N.Y., at 155. The seven undercard fights are scheduled for three, 5-minute rounds.
For the latest EliteXC event rumors check out the MMAFrenzy.com rumors section.