Chapman Looking for a Big Finish

May 5, 2011
(PRESS RELEASE) -- No matter what happens this Saturday night, Joel Chapman is done.

The Kalamazoo native will be defending his Impact Fight League 125-lb flyweight belt for the first and only time at The Palace of Auburn Hills at the Donofrio Entertainment, in association with Impact Fight League and Palace Sports and Entertainment, "MAYhem at the Palace" Cagefighting event against Monroe, Michigan's Nathan Long.

Although it's been a remarkable amateur career, the likeable former Combat X, New Genesis, Rough House, and Capital City champion (spanning three different weight classes) says he'll be turning pro after this fight.

"I think I'm the first person in Michigan to win belts in three different weight classes," he says proudly. "I've won titles from 125 to 145 lbs. I weighed 135 pounds and fought a 145-pounder. He was huge, but I won anyway. Then I won three titles at 135 and then this last one at 125 for Donofrio."

29-year-old Chapman says he got into cagefighting for a change of direction from his lengthy, successful career in traditional martial arts. "I started when I was 25. I didn't have anywhere else to go with Tae Kwon Do. I won the nationals and was thinking about going to the Olympics, but I tried MMA one time and won and I just kept on going and stopped doing Tae Kwon Do. I went from wanting to be an Olympian to being a cage fighter!"

The difference in people's reactions was also immediate.

"My first fight, I knocked the guy out in about a minute, and what I liked most was it was a whole different atmosphere. I won over 200 Tae Kwon Do fights and nobody cared. But you win one cage fight and people are like 'WOW!!!' I was hooked."

Chapman has been hard at work at his home base, The Lab in Kalamazoo, honing his technique and putting in the agonizing hours it takes to make the weight. "I'll put it like this: a couple weeks ago, I was 150 lbs. Now I'm about 139 and I'll spend the rest of the week cutting water to get down to 125."

Of Long, Chapman says that while he respects his challenger, he has too many disadvantages to take the title. "I know his stand-up is pretty decent. He has kind of a wild, unorthodox karate style to him, but I don't think he's very strong on the ground. I'll have to slow it down and pick him apart like I usually do to people. If I keep the pressure on him he'll fold. He's little. He walks around at 124 pounds. I walk around at 145. He's a lot smaller, so I'll be a lot bigger and stronger."

Chapman says he's looking forward to his amateur swan song because of the spectacle and atmosphere of a Donofrio event. "I've fought for him three times and there's nothing like it. You feel like a superstar; like a UFC fighter. In fact, the funny thing is I went to the UFC they had at the Palace and Donofrio actually puts on a better show. I'm not lying. It was a better show. I was shocked!"

Tickets for MAYhem at the Palace are available at Palacenet.com, The Palace box office, and all TicketMaster outlets, or by phone at 1-800-745-3000. The action starts at 7:00 PM, with doors opening at 6 PM. Special VIP Cageside Tables are available by calling 248.770.6000.

For more information on the show, visit www.donofriomma.com.

For more information on Joel Chapman, visit www.Joelchapmanmma.com.
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