PITTSBURGH — Since 2010, Derry native Matt Patterson has waited patiently, put in countless hours of grueling training and perpetually dreamed of making his mixed martial arts debut.
With his family and friends in attendance, Patterson seized the moment he’d longed for and pummeled Pittsburgh native Ryan McClure at Saturday’s Gladiators of the Cage: The North Shore’s Rise to Power IV at Stage AE.
Patterson, a 155-pound southpaw, scored a pair a takedowns in the opening round, the first of which came just 20 seconds into the bout, before relentlessly peppering McClure’s ribcage with punches and elbows. With 20 seconds left in the opening round, Patterson tagged McClure with a stiff left straight, setting up a double-leg takedown along the cage.
McClure emerged from the mat after the conclusion of the opening round and headed back to his corner in wincing pain. The bout’s cageside doctor examined McClure’s injured ribs briefly before calling the bout.
“I knew how hard I trained for this so I just wanted to go out and focus in on the things I do well,” Patterson, a 2008 graduate of Derry High School, said. “It felt great landing those shots from the top. All the work I put in hitting the ground-and-pound bags worked. It felt awesome to actually apply that training to a fight.”
In 2012, Patterson made the trek to Albuquerque, N.M., to hone his skills for five weeks at the renowned Jackson’s MMA, where he trained alongside UFC stars Clay Guida, Donald Cerrone and Diego Brandao, among many others.
Patterson said all the sacrifices he’s made since 2010 felt justified following his win.
“I did take some time to focus on my training,” Patterson said. “I had to leave my job, my family and my friends and went out to New Mexico and put myself in a good position to learn and to be challenged, and it paid off. The sacrifices I made were all about tonight.”
Robert Joseph, a corporal for the Pennsylvania State Police at the Indiana barracks, has served as the chief executive operator for Epic Leap Entertainment’s Gladiators of the Cage promotion since August 2011.
Joseph elaborated on the promotion’s swift evolution and his future plans to help it grow.
“Everything usually starts in the west and then moves to the east,” Joseph said. “All the big promotions; UFC, Bellator, World Series of Fighting; those promotions are all California or Nevada-based. We’re hoping to be that in the east, and I’ll tell you what, it’s really spreading like wild fire now. It’s been catching on and it’s just been crazy. It’s just a progression of everything that moves west to east.”
The next event Joseph has planned, Gladiators of the Cage: Road to Glory 6, will be held on May 3 at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown. Joseph also said Gladiators of the Cage will hold another event at Stage AE in June, a card that Patterson plans to fight on.
“I love to fight for Gladiators of the Cage,” Patterson said. “This is a great venue and a great promotion, and I can’t wait to fight here in Pittsburgh again in June.”