“Brick City runs (expletive)!”
Those are the words of New Jersey emcee, Reggie Noble, otherwise known in the hip-hop industry as “Redman.” It’s statements like these that stem from the pride of being a resident in the blue-collar geographic area of Jersey.
From the outside looking in, it seems that the folks from that area speak about putting in work on a daily basis to get what they need in order to get by – being “on the grind” appears to be the status quo.
The same can be said for the fighters that hail from that general area. Although he is not centrally located in “Brick City,” UFC 128’s Ricardo Almeida identifies himself as one of those New Jersey, blue-collar fighters.
As he prepares to go rounds with Mike Pyle this weekend at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., Almeida thinks about what being a local means and how beneficial it has been to he and his colleagues.
“That blue-collar work ethic is something I’ve always identified with the people from New Jersey,” Almeida told MMAWeekly Radio. “It’s a combination of many things, so for sure it’s working really well for all of us.”
And there are so many talented locals in the tri-state area. Fighters and instructors, such as Renzo Gracia, Frankie Edgar, and Matt Serra, come from in and around where the rough and rugged punch the clock. It’s having resources like these that give those fighting out of that area the edge.
“Everything is so heavily populated here,” Almedia said about the tri-state talent pool. “You have access to phenomenal instructors. And then, there (are) so many people you get to pull talent from.”
Lately, the UFC’s front office has been on Almeida’s side when it comes to location. The timing of matchmaking has put him in a place relatively close to home on more than one occasion. This fight will mark the third out of the last five outings where he has been nothing more than a short drive away from home.
“It’ll be my third fight close to home,” he said. “I fought in Philly first, which is about 45 minutes from where I live. Newark is about 45 minutes.”
Being so close to the nest on fight night can give a fighter that sense of a home court advantage. Family, friends, and local supporters can come through and back their fighters a lot easier than when the athletes compete across the country or around the world. The energy in Jersey is intense for this card and people are already feeling the vibe.
The influence is even boiling over into other sports.
“I’m pumped! Everyone is coming out to watch,” Almeida said. “I was actually at the (New Jersey) Nets basketball game and I got to throw some shirts with the mascot. There were a ton of UFC fans in the crowd. It’s going to be a packed house. I think it’s going to be even more energy than last year when we fought in March. I’ll do my best to rep Jersey.”
Be sure to check out MMAWeekly.com’s live play-by-play coverage of UFC 128 on Saturday night.
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Erik Fontanez is a staff writer for MMAWeekly.com.
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