The last time Maged Hammo stepped into the cage, he was taking on the top bantamweight, Jesse Arnett, in Canada on short notice.
And now, a year and a half later, Hammo (8-5-1) returns to the cage at Rumble in the Cage 59 to take on Fred Stonehouse (3-1) in a featherweight bout, and to show how much he’s learned from a hard-fought loss to Arnett.
Hammo, 28, said going against one of the top fighters in Canada was a great learning experience, and he’s looking forward to showcasing all the tools he’s added.
“Going against someone like that and seeing how they are, you kind of learn where you’re at when it comes to top competition,” said Hammo in an interview.
“It was nice because I learned a lot from that fight and it pushed me to get better. And I have.”
With the event taking place in Hammo’s hometown of Lethbridge, Alta., he will have the chance to parade everything he’s been working on since March 2017 in front of all his family and friends.
It’s been almost two years since the last time Hammo fought at home, and he said he’s excited to feel the energy of the hometown crowd once again.
“It’s always better to fight at home. The amount of people, the support you get, and the crowd itself; it’s all an amazing feeling,” said Hammo.
“It also gives you a boost of energy at the same time being in there. It’s really nice to be home.”
As is the case with the majority of Rumble in the Cage events, there are a plethora of fighters competing out of Canadian Martial Arts Centre, including Hammo.
With so many of his training partners also in fight camps, Hammo said it makes for some very hard rounds and even more commitment to improvement during training camp.
“Everybody’s pushing to pass their limits, so that makes you want to pass your limits too,” said Hammo.
“Everyone just keeps trying to pass each other right up till the fight, then everyone’s hungry for the win.
While Hammo is coming off one of his best training camps to date, Stonehouse, 29, is in the exact same boat.
In addition to training out of his own gym, Ottawa Academy of Martial Arts, Stonehouse, said he also travelled to Toronto to put in work with the athletes at Para Bellum MMA and Grant’s MMA.
“I’ve been able to get my own training done, then go visit some other experienced people who like to give me new looks, new perspectives, and new training regimes,” said Stonehouse in an interview.
“This is probably the best I’ve ever felt one week out from a fight.”
Throughout his young career, Stonehouse said he’s always been a fan of striking, while still utilizing his slick submission skills when an opportunity presents itself.
With Hammo possessing a similar skill set, Stonehouse said he feels prepared wherever the fight may go, and also feels like he has the advantage in all aspects.
“I enjoy striking. I love striking. So, I think I’ll come out and get the feel quickly in the first round, and pick apart from there,” said Stonehouse.
“But I’ve got to be ready for it all, and I feel l’ll have the upper hand in most areas.”
So far in his professional career, Stonehouse’s three victories have all come by stoppage, plus three of his four amateur wins in the same manner. Hammo also has a history of finishing fights, with all eight of his victories not making to a decision.
Stonehouse said he views he and Hammo as opportunistic fighters who are always looking to put on the best show possible.
“We’re both finishers and we’re both always looking to perform to the best of our abilities,” said Stonehouse.
“If it ends in the first round, I won’t be upset. If it ends in the second round, cool. Whether it’s a finish or a decision, I’m willing to do whatever it takes.”
“I just want to give a shoutout to my sponsors Peppermint Hippo, Big Al’s Music and Games, and Ginger Viking Beard Supply.”
“I’d like to thank Nick Castiglia, Hammer, Pat Cooligan, the Ottawa Academy of Martial Arts, Para Bellum, and Grant’s MMA.”