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ICF 16 kicks off tomorrow with lots of scintillating matchups

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Sometimes when you’re forced to change, it gives you something better than you could have imagined otherwise.

Such is the case when 221 Industries throws its last set of fights for 2014 at ICF 16 tomorrow night.

Sean O'Malley takes on Jake Marshall of Oregon on Friday at ICF 16 in Great Falls. Photo courtesy of Get the Picture Photography.
Sean O’Malley takes on Jake Blaski of Seattle on Friday at ICF 16 in Great Falls. Photo courtesy of Get the Picture Photography.

221 Industries CEO Cory Smith said while the lineup has changed incarnations several times due to injuries, fighters wishing to sign onto national cards and other reasons, he said he feels that it’s actually ended up being better than before the changes.

The event starts tomorrow night at 7 p.m., at the Pacific Steel and Recycling Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls.

The headliners are Tim “Cheapshot” Welch taking on Kerry Lattimer from Idaho, the 185-pound champ Jared Torgenson taking on Leo Bercier and Sean “The Highlight Reel” O’Malley returning to defend his 135-pound title against a tough competitor from Seattle, Jake Blaski who comes into the bout with an 11-4 record.

Leo Bercier, front, takes on 185-pound champion Jared Torgenson on Friday at ICF 16 in Great Falls. Photo courtesy of Get the Picture Photography
Leo Bercier, front, takes on 185-pound champion Jared Torgenson on Friday at ICF 16 in Great Falls. Photo courtesy of Get the Picture Photography

“We had a lot of fun matching the card up,” Smith said. “When Frank (Ramsey) went down with an injury, I think the card actually came together better by chance. You look at it – Leo and Jared will brawl till the bell and these two have a long history. Plus, Leo really wants that belt back. I think it has fight of the night written all over it.”

Smith said he expects both Welch’s fight and O’Malley’s fight to be closely-contested matches, as well.

“With Tim and Kerry, I think it has a street fight vibe because both guys love to brawl and are both veterans of the sport so it will be interesting to see what happens when that cage door closes,” Smith said. “Then Sean is just WOW. This kid, only 20 years old, has everything to be a UFC Champ someday. In fact, I nicknamed him the ‘Highlight Reel’ because of his fighting style. This fight will surely be electric.”

Welch may have more name-recognition than Lattimer, but the 29-year-old Pocatello native has won his last three matches this year.

Welch is coming off an impressive win at ICF 15 where he defeated Ran Weathers in the second round convincingly.

Additionally, Welch, Bercier and O’Malley will have a huge boost in their corner, as well, when Joe Riggs steps in to help them in between rounds.

Smith said they’re all extremely excited to fight with Riggs there to help motivate and guide them.

“Having a vet like Riggs in a corner has to be the best feeling in the world,” Smit hsaid. “Tim, Leo, Sean and (Ramsey) were talking last night about how smooth and just-MMA minded Riggs is. He really was born to fight MMA and for him to take time to corner these guys when he’s just had a big UFC fight of his own coming up is absolutely priceless.

That fight is on Dec. 13 when Riggs takes on Ben Saunders at the UFC Fight Night in Phoenix.

Each of the fighters Riggs is cornering also trains with him at the MMA Lab, also located in Phoenix.

Smith said having these guys on the same card together again is nothing but positive for everyone because they’re all, “just one big family down there.”

“Everyone takes care of, and watches each other’s back, and even superstars like Benson Henderson alongside them, no one is better than anyone else in the gym,” Smith said. “They train, sweat and bleed together every day. It means the world to these guys to warm up in the locker room together and I think it gives them a sense of calm knowing that while they go to battle, their trustworthy supporters are all cageside.”

Finally, Smith said one of the women’s matches he’s excited for is watching Hannah Kempf of Los Angeles taking on DJ Morrison.

“Hannah is just a machine and she will just go and go,” he said. “With DJ Morrison’s boxing background, I expect and all-out stand-up slugfest, with a KO happening in the second. But, I couldn’t pick a winner, it’s much too close!”

Some of the other local fighters like Cody Vukasin and Andrew Woodruff look to continue to make noise against their talented out-of-state opponents as well.  

Tickets to the fights are $23 per person and are available online at tickets.goexpopark.com or at the door.

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