There will be no shortage of passion and love for the sport when the co-main event hits the canvas at HRMMA 118.
For Assenza, 33, this bout will be the first time he’s taken his talents outside of Canada in his career.
And while the spotlight and the opportunity may be bigger on Friday night, Assenza said his main reason for competing is for his love of the game.
“At the end of the day, I fight because I f**king love this s**t,” said Assenza in an interview with MMA Empire.
“I get restless when I don’t have a fight booked. I like to be active, I like to fight as much as I possibly can in a year. At the end of the day, I fight because fighting’s fun for me.”
At 35 years old and now almost seven years into his professional career, Fallon shares a similar view to Assenza on his reason for stepping into the cage.
“I don’t fight for fortune and fame. Fighting and martial arts are something I am extremely passionate about and I absolutely embrace the challenges of this lifestyle, which include injury after injury, countless sacrifices, being sore all of the time, and heartbreaking losses that can either motivate or break a person,” said Fallon in an interview with MMA Empire.
“I love the hard training, it keeps me sane. The fights are just one way to put it all together and really test myself.”
Assenza looking to return to active ways
Assenza was last in the cage back in Feb. 2020 at BTC 9, despite several attempts at securing another bout throughout the COVID-stricken year.
Like all Canadian fighters who were looking to stay active during that time, Assenza was looking south of the border for fight opportunities, but the cards simply weren’t falling in his favour.
“We’ve been looking since the last fight I had. Since February or March of 2020, we’ve been looking for another fight. It’s just been very difficult,” said Assenza.
“It’s been really frustrating. We’ve been trying the whole time, I’ve been staying in shape, and I’ve been in camp pretty much the whole time and keeping my weight down. When this fight came up, I was jumping at the opportunity.”
Assenza enters Friday’s contest in fine form, having won two straight and three of his last four fights, which includes his most recent win over UFC-veteran Cody Pfister.
Assenza said the end goal for him is to compete in the UFC, and a win over another tough opponent in Fallon will bring him one step closer.
“I definitely want to fight in the UFC, that’s definitely the goal ahead. After this fight, I’ll keep lining the guys up and beating them until I do get the call to the UFC,” said Assenza.
“That’s definitely where I want to be, I want to fight the best guys. I think my style’s tailor-made for the viewers, and I feel as though that’s definitely on the horizon.”
Having had a potential bout with Fallon in his sights in the past, Assenza said he’s familiar with what to expect come fight night.
He said there are areas where Fallon does pose a threat and he has to be cautious of, but also areas he feels can be exploited.
“He’s definitely a submission-based fighter, but he uses his length very well. He likes to fight long and he makes certain areas of the fight difficult,” said Assenza.
“I think he’s great at what he does, but he also has some undisciplined tendencies. When it comes to me, I’m disciplined all around, so I know that’ll put me out on top.”
Fallon continues to build on career turnaround
After a 3-5 start to his professional career, it was quite the climb for Fallon to reach his current 13-6 record and title of Strikehard Productions lightweight champion. In 11 bouts since his last loss in 2016, Fallon has lost just once, a loss he avenged in his Strikehard Productions title win.
Fallon said he had a lot on his plate in the early years of his professional career, and feels he was too eager out of the gate as a professional.
“I was with another gym at the time I turned pro. I was always cross-training with the team I’m with now, but then I made the switch to them full-time, so that was one big factor,” said Fallon.
“I was also in school at the time, in physiotherapy school, and I was just kind of running myself ragged. I was still taking fights during that time, even when I was doing my clinical rotations. I was just juggling a lot. I was working as a part-time server, training and fighting full-time, and basically working 40 hours per week on those clinical rotations for free. Once I graduated from school and started making some decent money, that made a big difference, being able to focus solely on fighting.”
With his current five-fight win streak, Fallon said he believes a shot in the UFC is still very much a possibility for him at this point in his career.
At 35 years old, Fallon is at the higher end of the age range the UFC have been known to sign new fighters, but he said he believes he’s still firmly in his prime.
“I do not think my age should matter one bit at my chance to compete with the best. I put in more time and dedication to this than most around me, regardless of age, and haven’t showed any signs of slowing down anytime soon,” said Fallon.
“I make a point to outwork those around me, something that was instilled in me from my father, but did not implement until I was an adult. I want to show it is never too late to chase your dreams and passions and I feel like life has put me right on track to where I need to be.”
In terms of record, Assenza stands to be one of Fallon’s toughest tests of his career, and would serve as his biggest and potentially career-changing win.
Fallon said he’s expecting to have to be at his best for a full fifteen minutes in order to emerge victorious over a tough and durable Assenza.
“He’s coming off big win over a tough guy, and I hold him in high regard. He has a 12-6 record, but I take that with a grain of salt because I know he’s fought good people, and 12 wins as a pro is no joke, in my opinion,” said Fallon.
“I think he’s a very high-calibre opponent.”
“I’d like to thank my sponsors )Phalanx Athletics, Bad Boy Bail Bond, Seven Spencer’s Detailing, Indy Boxing and Grappling), my family and friends, and all my teammates and coaches.” Follow Fallon on social media: INSTAGRAM