When you think about the XFC, what comes to mind? If you are a red blooded American male, chances are the name Marianna Kheyfets will cross your thoughts.
Nick Newell, an inspirational story to any MMA fan, is another name that will surely come up. After a successful debut for the XFC in December, MMA fans have watched Newell’s fight at XFC 15 on Youtube over 1.5 million times.
While Kheyfets has defeated her last three opponents, since joining the XFC. Both are currently undefeated. Both are now fixtures inside a stacked lineup of some of the most talented fighters in the XFC promotion. But do you know how these two amazing fighters were discovered by the promotion? Kheyfets and Newell both received a contract by catching the eye of XFC President John Prisco and winning an XFC Open Fighter Tryout.
In 2010, the XFC held Open Fighter Tryouts in Danbury, Connecticut and Knoxville, TN. Marianna Kheyfets, Abi Mestere, Ryan Quinn, Ian Stephens, Parker Porter, and Nick Newell all received opportunities with the XFC due to their strong showing in the tryouts. Kheyfets, Stephens, and Newell received multi-fight deals and have established themselves as stars of the XFC with wins on HDNet.
With the promotion producing more shows live on HDNet each year, the XFC is now looking to expand its roster by holding the next set of XFC Open Fighter Tryouts in 2012. According to XFC scout Angelo Bodetti, you can expect a new generation of mixed martial artists at the event. “We are doing the tryouts to find the best local guys from all regions.” explained Bodetti. “We want to find the worlds’ best fighters and offer them an opportunity to be discovered by the XFC. In previous tryouts, we came across Marianna Kheyfets and Nick Newell. Both fighters have found a lot of success in the XFC. Instead of focusing on the older generation of fighters, like a lot of promotions do, we try to breed the next generation of fighters and help evolve the sport of MMA.”
XFC Open Fighter Tryouts are an open call to anyone who feels that they are ready to test themselves against the best fighters in the region. Professional or amateur women and men are invited to come out and be evaluated by the East Coast’s largest MMA promotion, the XFC. “When fighters show up to the tryouts, they need to bring some sparring equipment and a positive attitude,” explained Bodetti. “They also need to be prepared to mix it up with some of the best young fighters. All fighters will be side by side with a bunch of guys who are ready to go. Everyone who shows up must be in shape and be ready to be pushed, so we can assess their talent and see where their head is at. Myself, and another coach will be evaluating fighters on their grappling, striking, and athletic ability …things like that. Other coaches from the host gym will also have some input as well. We will run all fighters through different exercises and drills, then let them do some live wrestling and sparring. We will then narrow it down to a handful of guys who we believe have what we need. The finalists will spar and we will pick a winner to award with an XFC contract.”
The XFC is very well known not only for their Male MMA division, but also highly regarded for promoting Women’s MMA. The promotion is hoping to find some of the next generation of women mixed martial artist to feature Live on HDNet. “Women are definitely encouraged to participate,” exclaimed Bodetti. “That’s how we found Marianna Kheyfets. Out of 100 athletes at the last tryout, 5 were women. That’s not a huge percentage. But, 6 out of the 100 fighters there got an XFC contract. I really do hope more women come out for this next one. Mr. Prisco is excited about our Women’s division and I know there are a lot of talented ladies out there that haven’t been discovered yet.”
“Amateurs are also welcome,” said Bodetti. “They would have to be pro to compete for the XFC. It’s a good way to see how you measure up to others in the region. It’s also a good way to get yourself on the XFC’s radar. At the last one we did, a 15 year old kid made the finals. He was amazing and could have won, had he been old enough. As soon as he is 18, he will be contacted and I’m sure we’ll see him again at another tryout… and he could win the whole thing.”
“There are a lot of qualities the XFC looks for in the tryouts and even if a fighter has a bad record, the XFC still wants to see what they can do. It comes down to talent, ability, and potential,” said Bodetti. “If a fighter has a bad record, it won’t work against him. Things happen and guys take fights they shouldn’t. A guy who is 4-6 could still be legit, but he may have been mismanaged in the past. As long as the fighter will do what he needs to do, and we see that the talent is there, everyone has the same shot. If he or she will put in the work to get where they need to be, they could become the next XFC fighter.”