By Matt Williams
---- — A professional for just about half a year, Salem native Matt Doherty continues to raise his profile on the New England mixed martial arts scene.
Doherty, 24, had his second professional bout last night CES MMA’s Path of Destruction event held at Twin River in Rhode Island. Competing in the 135-pound weight class, Doherty was scheduled to fight against fellow Massachusetts native Johnny Campbell (results were not available at press time).
Entering last night 1-0 as a professional, Doherty is in the midst of a 6-fight professional deal with CES. Their event last night was headlined by John Howard, a veteran of seven fights in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
”I’m extremely excited to be fighting for such a great promotion,” Doherty said in the days before the fight. “It’s a bigger platform than I’ve ever been on to compete, and it makes the fights that much more intense. It makes me realize how far I’ve come ... and how far I want to go.”
Doherty enjoyed an exciting amateur career that culminated in a split decision win over Peabody native Rico Disciullo in an event at Lattitude in Peabody in the fall. Doherty (5-4 as an amateur) has always had a reputation as a busy, exciting fighter and plans to bring that sort of style of his professional bouts.
”Being professional is a huge difference compared to fighting as an ammy (amateur). The pressure is on when you step in that cage, you’re putting your career on the line every time you step in that cage,” said Doherty, a 2006 Salem High grad training at Redline Fight Sports in Cambridge.
”I feel for how short of a time span I’ve been doing this that I’ve done well for myself, but I am far from satisfied. This is the beginning of my journey.”
Doherty spends about five hours a day in the gym at Redline and has been focused on his all-around fight game. After beginning his training at Team Pradal Serey in Lynn, he’s taking his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, wreslting, boxing and kickboxing training to the next level over the last few months.
All that training and effort were needed last night against Campbell, who came into the fight as the more experienced pugilist with a 5-4 professional record. Doherty went into the fight expecting a battle and was hoping to keep the action in the standing position (ie boxing and kickboxing rather than wrestling).
”I know he has good cardio and he seems to be tough. We’re about the same size though he may walk around a little heavier than me (ie cuts weight before fighting),” he said. “I expect him to fight with intensity and aggressiveness, trying to make the fight hit the canvas.”
Doherty said that despite Campbell’s experience, there was one new aspect to grappling with him, “He’s never fought the Mantis,” he said, referencing his nickname.
”I’ll take the fight anywhere it goes with a smile, but I’d like to show him and everyone a striking clinic.”
As a pro, Doherty has picked up a few sponsors, including The Ward 2 in Salem and Sucker Punch Athletics for clothing. Mostly, he’s grateful to his teammates and trainers at Redline, his management team at Global Warrior Management and especially to his family.
”My girlfriend Shauna supports me through everything. Being a fighter’s girlfriend is hard between all the time training and having to go see your loved one get punched,” Doherty said. “My immediate family, Chris, Mike and Sarah and my mom Sherrie have been very supportive, and my dad, Steve, who passed away and inspires me everyday.”
No matter how things turned out last night, things are looking up for Doherty, who is glad to still be competing, and climbing that ladder.
”My goal is still to get to the UFC,” he said. “Competition is high and tough, but that’s what I like about it. At the end, I’ll know how hard I worked to get there.”