FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Portland, Maine (May 9, 2018) – The family that bleeds together, stays together.
It isn’t exactly warm, fuzzy, wall-hanging material that you’ll find overlooking somebody’s mantle, but the statement applies to Tampa, Florida-based domestic partners Amanda Gallo and Michael Vizza.
They’ll travel to Maine for their second New England Fights card in four months – and the first featuring both their names on the docket – for “NEF 34: Home of the Brave.”
Fight night is Saturday, June 16 at Aura in Portland.
Gallo (1-1), who stunned the crowd with her victory over Jayda Bailey in February, is scheduled to face Brianne Genschell (0-1) in a bantamweight clash. Vizza (1-2) will be paired with NEF newcomer Christian Barrett.
“It was supposed to happen one time, but then I got injured in training. So we’ve had fight camp together before,” Gallo said. “It’s interesting when you’re both training for a fight at the same time. When you put two hungry, angry people together, it can get difficult.”
The two fought one week apart in their most recent trips to the cage.
Vizza was still training for a bout in Florida when they paid a four-day visit to Maine in the dead of winter for Gallo’s showdown with then-undefeated Bailey.
“Like any relationship it has ups and downs,” Vizza said. “I think we have more ups than downs because we get to spend a lot of time together.”
Since relocating from Tallahassee to Tampa, the couple has trained at RMNU South Tampa. One of their coaches is NEF mainstay John Ortolani.
“We’re basically gym partners. It’s good to have the same interests,” Gallo said. “It’s cool at the gym, because when it’s time partner up with someone to drill or whatever, you know the person.”
After fighting in Georgia and Florida, Gallo wound up taking her first fight in Maine through her connection with Ortolani.
The former lacrosse player, a veteran of 20 pro MMA fights, spoke highly of his own experience with NEF. Gallo felt the same welcoming atmosphere from both the promotion and its fans in her first go-round.
“John had so many good things to say about the organization,” Gallo said. “And I did have an awesome experience. It’s very well organized. They treat the fighters really well.”
It took a while for her to win over the crowd, of course. Many of them were responsible for selecting Bailey as NEF’s 2017 rookie of the year.
Leading up to the fight, Gallo saw an internet poll in which 97 percent of the fans picked her opponent to win.
“It can mess with your head a little bit when you feel like you’re considered that big an underdog, but I also used it as motivation to prove them wrong,” Gallo said. “You feel like there’s nothing to lose.”
Gallo had to laugh at the crowd response during fighter introductions, which was similarly slanted.
“They announced her name and everybody screamed,” Gallo said. “When they announced mine you could hear crickets.”
After losing her debut in Thomasville, Georgia, by split decision to a veteran opponent, Gallo balanced the books with a unanimous decision victory at Bailey’s expense.
She will take on another local favorite in Genschell (0-1), who fights out of Farmington and First Class MMA of Topsham.
“I know she’s a black belt in jiu-jitsu, so that will be an interesting challenge,” Gallo said of Genschell.
Challenges and surprises are part of the attraction of fighting in Maine, added Vizza, who also will take on a foe from the First Class stable in Barrett.
Vizza has a TKO win and losses by split decision and submission in his home region.
“It’s just good to get a different perspective. We kind of know most of the people who fight around here,” Vizza said of the southeast. “It’s fun to train to fight someone you’ve never really seen or heard of, and to do it about as far away as you can go.”
Both fighters were impressed by the passion and loyalty of NEF fans. Vizza noted that seeing thousands of casual spectators at a local MMA promotion is unheard of in Florida.
“The energy is definitely crazy. I’ve never seen so many people so excited to watch people fight that they haven’t even heard of,” he said. “Down here you’re pretty much fighting in front of your family and friends. Up there people are excited to go see people they don’t even know. It’s for the genuine appreciation of the sport.”
In Gallo’s case, women’s opponents are hard to find in her corner of the country. The sudden spike of competitiveness in NEF’s female ranks could make Maine a semi-regular destination for years to come.
“When I lived in Tallahassee it was extremely difficult to find women’s fights, or fights in general. MMA is just not very big there,” Gallo said. “Down in Tampa there is a lot more promotion of the sport, but it’s still hard. All the fighters kind of know each other.”
At this rate, Gallo and Vizza may become a well-known power couple – some 1,450 miles from home – in no time.
NEF’s next mixed-martial-arts event, “NEF 34: Home of the Brave,” will take place at Aura in Portland, Maine on Saturday, June 16, 2018. Tickets are on-sale now online at www.AuraMaine.com.
About New England Fights
New England Fights (“NEF”) is a fight events promotions company. NEF’s mission is to create the highest quality events for fighters and fans alike. NEF’s executive team has extensive experience in combat sports management, events production, media relations, marketing, legal and advertising.