He’s back ladies and gentlemen.
During his time away, Merola, 33, was far from a couch potato, obtaining his black belt in jiu-jitsu during his five-year layoff.
He said he was recently looking for motivation to get back in the gym and start training hard, and this fight gave him just that.
“I needed a push to come to the gym a little more often. The jiu-jitsu started to get a little stale,” said Merola in an interview.
“When Kultar Gill told me he was making a comeback at 40 years old on this card, I thought why not? Let’s give it shot. It’ll be good motivation, and it has been.”
With 18 professional fights to his name, Merola certainly holds the experience edge over Gibson Jr. on paper.
However, Merola believes the only scenario his experience will work to his advantage is if he can drag the fight into the later rounds.
“I know all of his amateur fights were all three-minute rounds and his one pro fight ended quite quickly, so he’s never really experienced a long fight,” said Merola.
“At the beginning of the fight, I don’t think it’ll be too big of a deal. But I think as the fight goes on, my experience can began to play more of a factor.”
Ring Versus Cage
Unlike the majority of MMA bouts contested in a cage, this bout will will take place in a ring, with kickboxing and muay thai fights also on the card.
Merola said he had plenty of experience fighting in a ring early in his career, and said it has its advantages and disadvantages, especially for grapplers.
“With the ring, it’s kind of like a double-edged sword for someone who likes to fight on the ground. It’s a lot harder to get people down without that cage, but at the same time, once you get them down, it’s a lot harder for them to get back up,” said Merola.
“The ground game just becomes a little more stagnant in a ring, I find.”
Merola said he knows Gibson Jr.’s record is not indicative of the threat he will pose once they step in the ring, and he will not be underestimating him.
“He’s coming from a strong martial arts background, he’s a strong wrestler, and a pretty explosive striker,” said Merola.
“He’s very impressive.”
“I’d just like to thank my entire team at Revolution Martial Arts.”