OPINION: Could Mark Cherico Retire GOTC Champion?

ChericoBy Albert Cameron – “The Pride of Bloomfield” Mark Cherico announced (via his personal facebook account) that his upcoming fight would be his last. He stated that he promised himself that he’d retire when fighting was no longer fun and that he’d stuck it out this long to honor the dedication that he’d put into his training and commitment. If all goes as planned, his last bout will be for the Gladiators of the Cage (GOTC) promotion; the fight is slated as a title fight with Nathan Landwehr. (card is subject to change).

I remember the first time I’d ever seen Mark Cherico fight in person, for the Pinnacle FC promotion. “Higher Ground” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers ripped through the PA system of the Icoplex in Canonsburg and the crowd in attendance became certifiably unglued. During the announcement, Cherico encouraged the crowd to quiet down in respect for Brady Hovermale’s introduction in the cage. Speaking to Cherico pre-fight, I met a man who was humble and was single-minded in his game plan and it’s execution. The man that stood in the cage was a different human being entirely. In the Pittsburgh fight scene, there are a stable of fighters who can incite such a fan reaction, Cherico was certainly chief amongst them that night.

It should be ever present in our collective conscious as fight fans that our warriors of today do have a limit to their careers. We want to believe that Mark Cherico, Mike Wilkins, Khama Worthy and the like can go on forever. The modern mixed martial artist is a lot more aware of their lifespans and what the future holds than those who came before them. Mark Cherico has a family to be concerned about and his own personal health. Being a professional prize fighter is a taxing profession, both physically and mentally.

With all of that considered, Mark Cherico has the opportunity to retire as Pittsburgh’s undisputed Featherweight King. Currently, Mark Cherico is the reigning pro Featherweight Champion for the Pinnacle FC promotion; should he grab the GOTC Featherweight crown, he would be the top guy for the two largest promotions in Steel City. There is no better way to go out than on top.

Also challenging for the GOTC Featherweight Strap is Nathan Landwehr. Landwehr is not only experienced in the ways of winning (6-1-0 as a pro, only having dropped a loss to D’Juan “Dirty South” Owens), but he has experience in several different fight circuits. The Xtreme Fighting Championships (XFC) is a promotion out of Florida, trying to position themselves in a spot to compete with the UFC and Bellator. In that quest for national MMA market share, XFC has sought out and captured quality talent for their cards; one such talent is Nathan Landwehr.

The Pittsburgh fight circuit got our first look at Landwehr at GOTC 15, where he secured a decision victory over Justin Steave. While the bout with Steave was hard fought and grueling, Landwehr does possess finishing power, both in his hands and his submissions. At Cage Nation TV, we often talk about how Pittsburgh promoters aren’t versed in the practice of mismatches. Global promotions have put top guys up against cans, just for the spectacle; in Pittsburgh, we have a work ethic that only fights that make sense or will be hard fought will be put to the test. I’m a numbers guy and based on statistics alone, Cherico vs. Landwehr makes perfect sense. Despite Cherico’s popularity in the Steel City, there is a very real chance that Nathan Landwehr could be adding GOTC gold to his resume.

If you take anything away from this piece, I want it to be the acknowledgement that the main event for the upcoming GOTC card has all the elements of a great fight. Two capable combatants are going into the cage to do battle, only one man can leave as champion and only one man will leave with another fight ahead of him. The other side of that coin is that it is highly probable that both men will leave with their pride intact and will be able to hold their heads up high because they gave a great fight.

Personally, I hope Mark Cherico retires knowing that he was an incredibly important part of a fight circuit that a lot of people love. Amongst fight media, we always speak of Mark Cherico highly and as the fight scene grows and evolves, we’ll always think of him fondly and as an integral part of the Pittsburgh fight foundation. Good luck, Mark.