Front Street Fights 12 will pit one of Idaho’s most-decorated MMA talents in Jesse Brock against Calgary’s Noah “The Chosen Defender” Ali, a rising star in Canada and winner in four of his last five fights, with the FSF Bantamweight Title belt on the line. Ali seeks the belt in his first professional bout on US soil, while Brock enters the cage at CenturyLink Arena at a Front Street Fights event for the first time in two years.
While Brock has been absent from a Front Street Fights card, he has certainly still been in the cage and consistent. Contracted with World Series of Fighting, Brock has taken three professional fights since his last FSF appearance, including a victory at Bellator 155 at CenturyLink Arena last May. With that win, and the prominent role he plays for other fighters in Boise, Brock feels he’s remained in the FSF mix.
“It doesn’t really feel like I’ve been away because I’ve been at a few events cornering for other guys,” says Brock, who has helped fighters like Andrew Cruz, Matt Jones, and Scott Thometz among others prepare for Front Street Fights.
With a record of 22-9, Brock has experience over Ali on paper when compared to Ali’s 9-3 record. That math is deceiving if you ask Ali.
“My record is 9-3 but I do have some amateur fights and boxing and muay-thai fights, so I’ve actually had 20 fights total. He does have a bit more experience than me but that doesn’t matter,” said Ali. “For my win against Sean Quinn, when I stepped into a gym for the first time ever he was at the time one of the baddest fighters in our country. A few years later I beat him.”
Both fighters have proven themselves to be well-rounded competitors. Brock’s record certainly speaks for itself, but his fight preparation also gets an added benefit from his job. Brock is a top coach at SBG Idaho, a gym that has trained and produced many of the top fighters from the Boise area. The teaching method, along with the quality of fighters he surrounds himself with on a daily basis, makes for a great atmosphere for training.
“I try to be an honest person and if I’m telling some of our guys something, whether it be strength or technique or training habits, I try to turn that around on myself and make sure I’m doing those things too,” said Brock. “Sometimes you find you’re not and it’s hypocritical to preach those things to others when you’re not following those instructions yourself.”
“I’m fortunate to have a lot of different guys here at the gym with different styles and different body types. They can give me a variety of looks.”
With a variety of talented fighters to spar with regularly, both for his own improvement and for theirs, Brock is always in a state of training. He knows his strengths and will be ready to employ them against Ali.
“I know what I’m best at. I think I’m a good striker and I know I’m better on the ground and a better grappler,” said Brock. “If he gives me a chance to punch him in the face, then I will. But if he gives me an opportunity to put him on the ground, then I’ll definitely put him where I feel he’s weaker and I’m stronger. Some guys are tough to get there.”
Ali comes to Boise brimming with confidence, claiming that he is finishing the best weight-cut of his career and that he’s ready to fight. Where Brock often takes over fights that go to the ground, Ali knows he is ready for any situation that comes his way.
Fighting with Champion’s Creed MMA, Ali makes positional sparring a regular part of his training, putting himself in disadvantageous situations with sparring partners so that he can learn the best strategies to escape and recover.
“You don’t want to be in the worst case scenario for the first time when you’re in the cage. You want to have drilled that hundreds of times over,” said Ali. “I’m going to have an answer for pretty much anything he gives me, and I’m really confident for this fight.”
Ali also believes that his late start in the sport was actually beneficial for his development and training, taking advantage of a training mentality that FSF Matchmaker Todd Carlson calls the ‘next generation of fighters’.
“Years back people did start in one specific discipline, but now kids are starting at six or seven years old and they’re doing the MMA, the wrestling, and the striking. I started training at a later age at about 24 years old and MMA was already full-tilt,” said Ali.
“So it wasn’t a matter for me of being stuck in one discipline and getting really good at it. I started with striking and did a little jiu-jitsu, and then my first fight was against a wrestler so I needed to be steady on the wrestling regiment. That molded it all together and the ball kept rolling from there.”
The title fight offers “two more rounds of fun,” according to Ali, with the bout set for five rounds for a fighter who has never fought more than three in a professional tilt. Brock has gone five rounds on one occasion, and not since 2011, but he understands how important stamina may be against Ali.
“Sometimes you recognize pretty quickly that a fighter is good and you’re going to be in for a bit more of a chess match. You’ll have to utilize that energy management over the course of five rounds,” said Brock. “It definitely enters into it for me. I feel that I have a pretty good gas tank and I can keep a good pace over five rounds if need be, but at the same time you need to make sure you’re working efficiently.”
With both fighters on top of their games, how does the setting factor in? Brock will be fighting in front of local fans in his hometown, which has occurred to Ali. At the same time, a “road game” for Ali does come with benefits as well. Ali said Boise is similar to his native Calgary in terms of weather and a bit lower elevation, and fighting away from home will relieve certain stresses.
“It’s actually a lot more comfortable for me because I can come out here and I don’t have to focus on anything else but the fight,” said Ali. “Back home, I have family matters and ticket sales and all the other things you have to worry about when fighting at home. Here I just come in, eat well, cut the weight, enjoy the scenery, and have some fun.”
Both men have their sights set on a title belt, the first bantamweight belt awarded at Front Street Fights. Beyond the desire to win and prove who is best, both men also enter the cage with different motivations.
“I think (the belt) is something to bring back to my gym and a way to thank everyone for what they do for me,” said Brock. “It’s a way to thank my athletes for being there for me and stepping up to be my sparring partners and my coaches this time around.”
For Ali, a win would improve his resume with hardware and position him for more fights in Idaho in the future.
“I’d like to thank Todd for the opportunity,” said Ali. “I want to go get that belt and I love Boise a lot, so I’m eager to come back and defend it. This city is beautiful.”