After nearly a decade of competing solely in the Unified MMA cage, Neal Anderson finally gets his crack at the title.
Edmonton, Alta.’s own Anderson (10-3) takes on Lethbridge, Alta.’s Maged Hammo (9-5-1) at Unified MMA 40. The two warriors vie for the vacant Unified MMA featherweight championship and the broadcast goes on UFC Fight Pass. It transpires on Saturday night live from River Cree Resort and Casino in Edmonton.
Anderson, 34, has a long history with Unified MMA, fighting solely for the promotion since Unified MMA 11 in March 2012.
For Anderson, the timing for his title bid is ideal and is backed by six wins worth of momentum.
“Unified has always been good to me. They’ve always been a good local show here in town. They sell a lot of tickets. The shows are always fun even if I’m not fighting, so it’s fun to just go and check out the show,” said Anderson in an interview with MMA Empire.
“Fighting with them for awhile now, all my fights since 2012 have been with them. It would be pretty cool to win the belt finally and say I was their champion.”
Generally a regular in the lightweight division, Anderson is making the drop down to featherweight for Saturday’s clash with Hammo.
Anderson said he feels confident in the weight cut and his performance to follow, and feels the featherweight division will be his home moving forward.
“I knew with my record now that the fights were only going to get tougher. I’ve always trained with a lot of 55ers over the years and they always, in-between fights, got way bigger. They get into the 180s and I never get heavier than the 170s. I always figured I could probably make 145. I’m pretty tall but, I mean, I’m pretty lanky. My last fight, which was two years ago now, I fought (Craig) Shintani, who was the featherweight champ at the time. I probably should have just fought him at 145 then,” said Anderson.
“But I just didn’t know how the weight cut would go. We agreed to meet at a catchweight of 150. I weighed in at 149 and I could have kept cutting weight. That, to me, was kind of an indication that I could fight at featherweight, and that fight went pretty well for me. A good sign. If I want to move on to bigger fights, I’m going to need every advantage I can have. Probably bigger, have a bigger reach, and be a little stronger at 45. That’s kind of why I wanted this fight at 45. That’s why I think I’m going to be fighting at 45 for the rest of my career.”
Anderson was originally scheduled to fight Lucas Neufeld until an injury forced Neufeld to withdraw from the bout.
With Hammo now being his adversary, Anderson indicated a fluid level of comfortability in adapting to that change.
“I’ve known I was fighting Maged for longer than I knew I was fighting Lucas. With Lucas, I was a little more familiar with him because I think he’s had a lot more fights recently. I think he has a little bit of hype behind him. But from what I can see, it’s definitely just as tough of a fight as Lucas, if not tougher,” said Anderson.
“I think Maged has a lot of experience. I mean, I couldn’t find much footage on him, but he’s been training forever. There’s a lot of fights, he has a good record and he’s from a good gym (CMC). Everyone from that gym, I’ve never seen a bad fighter out of that gym. For him to be training that long out of that gym, you know he’s going to be good, you know he’s going to be well-rounded. I’m expecting the toughest fight of my career. I think I’d be an idiot to not be expecting that.”
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