We persevered through technical difficulties on Tuesday’s Crossing Broadcast with Delco native Bill Algeo. He’s one of several underrated Philly-area mixed martial artists and he was coming off a weekend win at UFC Fight Night in Kansas City.

One of the topics we got into was combat sport in the region and the current crop of fighters coming out of Philly:

Bill makes a good point about wrestling. Wrestling becomes exponentially bigger the further west and north you go from Philadelphia. Wrestling was big in upper Montco back in the day (and still is), and Penn State has always had an excellent program. A lot of guys come out of the collegiate wrestling scene and thrive in MMA, big names like Matt Hughes and Randy Couture and, more recently, Kamaru Usman and Bo Nickal.

MMA in Philly might be compared to Flyers or Union fandom in the sense that those supporter bases will never be as large as the Eagles/Phillies/Sixers, but there’s an abundance of educated and passionate fans. There’s no slam dunk superstar UFC title-contender currently, which might push fandom over the top here, but we’ve got a ton of underrated and under the radar fighters in various promotions, fighters like Bill, Sean Brady, Pat Sabatini, the Daukaus brothers, and Joe Pyfer (edit – forgot Joe Solecki and Andre Petroski). On the women’s  side, Katlyn Chookagian is from Quakertown and fought for the UFC Flyweight title back in 2020. She’s 18-5 and still ranked in the top six of the division.

We used to go watch the pay-per-views at Miller’s Ale House in South Philly, which is a chain and nothing special. Cheap beers, etc. But that place would be packed for the fights and it always made me wonder what it would take for MMA to break into the Philly mainsteam. We’ve got great regional promotions like Cage Fury and Ring of Combat and the Philly/Atlantic City circuit has been huge in combat sports for a long time, yet very rarely does UFC or Bellator hold events here. UFC has only been in Philly three times since 2009 and Atlantic City also three times in that same time period, despite having Eddie Alvarez and Paul Felder on the roster. Those various Fight Nights were headlined instead by guys like Justin Gaethje, Edson Barboza, Kevin Lee, Rashad Evans, and Tito Ortiz.

So it’s kind of a weird situation where the MMA and boxing scene here just sort of bubbles in the underground. It percolates. There are some really good stories to be told, and maybe casual fans take notice in 2023.

Full CBC episode here: