When Isaiah Metituk steps in the cage Saturday night, he will do so with plenty of support in the stands.
Metituk (4-2) is set to take on Albaraa Atmeh (3-1) at XFFC 19 in Grande Prairie, Alta. to determine the new owner of the XFFC amateur featherweight title.
With Metituk, 21, living and training in Grande Prairie, and also being a regular in the XFFC promotion, he believes the hometown advantage will play a factor in this contest.
“I’m bringing a whole army to this fight. This crowd is all going to be on my side. This crowd will be 100 per cent McLovin,” said Metituk in an interview.
“He’s also going to be under the bright lights for the first time. He’s never fought on a show this big, and he’s never had to go into enemy territory like this.”
Heading into this matchup, Metituk is riding a four-fight win streak, and is one of the fastest-rising amateurs in Canada.
Metituk said a fifth win in a row to go along with a championship belt would prove he’s one of the best amateur featherweights in the country.
“It would be a statement that I’m the top 145er in this country,” said Metituk.
“At the end of the day, I’m going to go in there and strangle him, but he’s definitely the most legit guy I’ve ever fought. So, it’s a stamp on my record, it’s a belt around my waist, and it’s proof I’m the best 145er in this country.”
Although he views Atmeh as a high-end striker, Metituk said he believes he’s better in all other facets of MMA.
Metituk said if he can avoid the knockout shot early in the fight, his superior wrestling and jiu-jitsu will take over.
“He’s got one way to beat me. I’m not ignorant, he absolutely can knock me out,” said Metituk.
“There’s one dimension he can beat me in, but all other facets of MMA, I’m better than him.”
With two of his three victories coming by fast knockout/TKO finishes, Atmeh’s ability to end a fight with his striking has already been demonstrated.
And while he’s hoping for another fast finish on Saturday night, Atmeh said he’s not one to rush in for the kill and get sloppy.
“All my wins have been finishes, and they haven’t went past the second round, whether it be a knockout or a submission. People think I’m just a striker, but I’ve been training grappling for seven years and competed with high-level guys,” said Atmeh in an interview.
“In my opinion, I’m dangerous anywhere he tries to take this fight. I don’t think it’ll last long, but I’m also ready for five hard rounds. I’m going to make it dirty, I’m going to make him a mess. He’ll give up before five rounds.”
With a win Saturday night, Atmeh will become a champion at the young age of 20, and continue to be well on his way to a successful career in the sport.
Atmeh said he’s been hoping for a title shot for awhile now and said it will allow him to learn what it takes to be a champion.
“I know we’re not talking Bellator or UFC, but having five rounds, having a championship fight, and being the main event of the amateur card, it gives me a look at it and I get to see how I deal with it,” said Atmeh.
While the pride and glory of being crowned champion is plenty of motivation to win in itself, Atmeh said he’s driven by a far more fundamental reason this time around.
He said with all the sacrifices and hard work he puts in, he said he wants to prove to himself, and everyone that supports him, that it’s all worth it.
“My biggest motivator is I want to prove to myself how good I am,” said Atmeh.
“I want to prove that all this work, training, dieting, and not being able to go to family functions is all worth it.”
“I want to thank my lord and saviour Jesus Christ, I want to thank my whole team down at Champion Gym, and everyone who stuck with me when I was 0-2 all the way till 4-2. I’m not just winning this belt for myself, I’m winning it for everyone who kept faith in me during the losing streak and stuck with me during the winning streak.”
“I really want my gym, Dynamic MMA, to know how much I appreciate them putting work into me. It’s like a family there, and I never intend on leaving them. My parents are also super supportive of me, and have funded for everything since day one, so it means a lot to me to make them proud.”