Mark Cherico sees his future clearly, and it’s encased by an octagon of steel.
Strolling into his Pinnacle Fighting Championships 9 bout with Brian “Boom” Kelleher (10-7), the undefeated Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, product feels he’s just one victory away from MMA‘s biggest show: the UFC.
“I’m not going to do another local fight,” Cherico told Bleacher Report. “I’m so sick of selling tickets and sponsors and all that s**t. This is the fight that’s going to get me in the UFC.”
His resume certainly builds a strong case.
Cherico finished all nine of his amateur bouts inside the distance before turning pro in 2012, as he continued his winning ways, rattling off seven straight victories in just over two years’ time—finishing four of them by submission and one via technical knockout (TKO).
Even more, Cherico is managed by Guardian Sports Group, a team run by ex-UFC fighter Charles McCarthy, which currently houses UFC fighters such as Walt Harris, Alex White and Tecia Torres under its umbrella.
With the people at Guardian Sports Group behind him, Cherico has already fielded a few offers from the upper leagues, but the timing hasn’t been perfect, and the stars simply haven’t aligned.
A win Wednesday, Nov. 26, at Pinnacle FC 9, though, and a call from the UFC brass seems inevitable.
“Mark has an unbelievable record and belongs in the UFC,” said Ed Kapp, one of Cherico‘s agents at Guardian Sports Group. “But once we sign with the UFC, that’s when the real fun is going to start and when he’s really going to flourish. Mark does everything he can to finish fights—and finish fights excitingly.
“He also really loves to engage his fans and tell his amazing story. Mark is a superstar in Pittsburgh, and he’s doing everything he can to break through at the national and international levels. It certainly won’t surprise any of us at Team Guardian when that happens.”
While he recognizes this point, Cherico maintains his composure, refusing to look past Kelleher and his bout Wednesday evening.
“I gotta get past Kelleher first,” Cherico said. “That’s all I’m thinking about right now. I gotta beat Brian Kelleher on Wednesday, and we’ll take it from there.”
Adding a bit of intrigue to the bout, Cherico‘s Pinnacle FC 9 tilt will take place at a 138-pound catchweight, his first fight below 145 pounds. All seven of Cherico‘s previous pro victories came at featherweight, and the cut to 138 is all part of his strategy, part of his UFC vision.
“It’s just an easier entrance into the UFC, I think, at 135,” Cherico said.
As Kapp notes, once Cherico breaks through that door and into the UFC, that’s when the fun really begins.
He’s been otherworldly at the regional level—a top prospect since he turned pro in 2012—and the UFC can offer the type of matchups that will truly put his skills to test and push him as a fighter and as a person.
Thankfully, Cherico has a support system in place with his wife, Nicole, and his daughter, Aubree Rose. With these two in his corner, Cherico feels ready to seize the moment, to take what’s his and to ascend to the next level, creating a better future and a better life for his family moving forward.
“She (Nicole) manages everything around the house, takes care of my daughter,” Cherico said. “The entire fight camp she just lets me be me and focus on the fight. She’s super excited, man, that we’re so close to that dream of being in the UFC. It’s one step closer to better living and that’s always good, too. She can get some more new clothes, some more visits to the casino, all that good stuff [laughs].”
One more win, one more tick on that undefeated file he calls his fighting record and the goal might just be his for the taking.
A win over Kelleher will be his 17th in a row since entering the sport as an amateur in 2008.
And in Cherico‘s eyes, 17 might just be his lucky number.
“I don’t see anywhere he’s (Kelleher‘s) better than me in this fight, so as long as I go out there and stick to our game plan, I’m going to be good to go,” he said. “I’ll just stay ready, keep my weight down, and the call will come. I know it will.”
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