Saturday, April 26, 2008

Brothers Combine Interests, Find Home In UWC

Brothers Combine Interests, Find Home In UWC

Marcus and Marcello Foran always have been close, but until recently, the two brothers from Prince George's County have not had the chance to combine their very different interests.

Marcus, a two-time All-Met wrestler who was inducted into the DeMatha Athletic Hall of Fame in October, always has been the tough guy, according to Marcello, a 38-year-old entrepreneur. "I've always been the businessperson," he said.

The Foran brothers found the perfect event for their combination of tough guy and business savvy in the Ultimate Warrior Challenge -- Invasion, tonight's 10-card, mixed martial arts cage-style draw at George Mason University's Patriot Center.

Marcello, owner and founder of UWC, and Marcus, who is fighting in the event, have "been feeding off of each other for this," said Marcus, 33, a former Special Forces Marine who earned a black belt in traditional Japanese karate while stationed in Okinawa for nearly seven years.

"I'm going to fight in front of everyone [I] knew growing up, and I'm not going to lose in front of them," said Marcus, who was 153-10-3 as a high school wrestler. He competed primarily at DeMatha before graduating from Riverdale Baptist, where he went 35-3-2 and placed third nationally in 1993. "The wrestling has been my biggest asset when it comes to MMA."

Marcus (4-2) spent a month in the Philippines dieting and training for tonight's 185-pound match against Baltimore's Tenyeh Dixon (2-2). Marcus said he expects to use a combination of wrestling, military combat techniques and Japanese karate.

Marcello's preparation for tonight's card?

"I did Carmen Electra's birthday last Saturday at PUR Nightclub, and then I was with Fergie down in Atlantis [in the Bahamas] last weekend," said Marcello, who built his Las Vegas-based business -- Ultimate VIP -- establishing exclusive getaways and experiences for the rich and famous, before stumbling into fight promotion. "I went to support my brother at his first fight in Albuquerque, and I got pumped up. I was like . . . this is going to blow up."

Tonight's main event will be headlined by 170-pounders Pete Spratt (19-11) and Jason Von Flue (12-8-1), and the card includes fighters who previously have competed in organizations such as the UFC, Pride, IFL and Bodog as well as locals from the region's top gyms, including Lloyd Irvin's Martial Arts, Ground Control Academy, One Spirit Martial Arts and the Mario Yamasaki Academy, run by the top UFC referee.

On Nov. 30, SMASH -- a 10-card bout organized by local promoters -- drew fewer than 2,500 fans, a number that Marcello hoped to double by improving the talent level of the fighters involved and by promising appearances by MMA stars such as UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton"Rampage" Jackson and WEC welterweight champion Carlos"Natural Born Killer" Condit.

While Marcello is content selling tonight's event to the relatively untapped MMA audience in the Washington area, Marcus is focused on a different sort of successful homecoming.

"I never thought I'd be fighting back close to my home town," Marcus said. "At this point right now, I'm more excited. It brings my intensity up, and it brought my training intensity up."

-- B.J. Koubaroulis

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