The landscape of Front Street Fights changed on Thursday. Reigning Featherweight Champion Vince Morales announced that he was dropping down a weight class, from Featherweight to Bantamweight, and was therefore vacating the belt. With that announcement, what shift in power can we expect for both divisions in the near future at Front Street Fights?
FSF Matchmaker Todd Carlson now has the intriguing opportunity to create another title bout for the Featherweight division, but he will also have the enviable task of promoting an already challenging bantamweight class that has now gotten even tougher.
When he announced the move to 135 pounds, Morales said it was the right decision for his career long-term. He believes he can be a more competitive fighter for his 5-foot-7 frame at that weight. In the immediate future, it also presents a new set of challenges for one of FSF’s most successful fighters.
“Long-term it’s good for his career. Will it be easier in our organization? Absolutely not,” said Carlson of Morales, who sports a 6-1-0 record and a 4-1-0 record at FSF. “Our bantamweight division is, I believe, probably more talented than our featherweight division.”
Morales now joins a Bantamweight division in FSF that features other big names like title-holder Jesse Brock (23-9-0) at 135, but also with Joe Hamilton (4-0-0) and Ricky Steele (5-0-0) at that weight.
“At 135 there are no easy fights,” said Carlson.
And of course that goes both ways. While Morales is joining a weight class with some big names, those same fighters are also welcoming a fighter who has won four fights in a row, three by TKO and the other via first round submission.
“Vince is a very talented guy and a great fighter, and walking in he will be a top-5 guy who does make the class tougher.”
Carlson agrees Morales is ultimately making the right decision for his career. The risk to consider for Morales, in giving up a title belt and making the move, is just how important it will be for him to adjust to his new competition quickly and decisively.
“The problem is that at this level, it’s all about moving forward. If you take a couple of strategic losses, it can set you back six months to a year,” said Carlson. “Bellator and UFC want guys who are winning and doing so in grand fashion, dominating.”
Morales’ move now opens a clear path for FSF veteran Matt Jones (6-2-0) to make a move on the title belt for himself. Jones was recently named the number-one contender for the Featherweight division, and he has plenty of momentum following his well-circulated victory at FSF12, highlighted by a spinning elbow knockout of Carson Frei.
“We’re going to put the belt on the line on soon, and Matt Jones will have a shot at it,” said Carlson. “We do not have an opponent yet.”
Jones’ knockout effort certainly put him in the conversation for a title shot, but Morales’ departure will also open an opportunity for whoever that challenger may be.
“In your progression trying to reach the next level, being a Front Street Fights title holder is a big deal,” said Carlson. “Matt is going to have a tough opponent. Whether it was Vince Morales or somebody else we bring in, it was always going to be a tough fight. If Matt is able to get it, I think he’ll be very proud of it.”
Someone new will be wearing that belt by November. In the meantime, Morales will hope to leave a similar mark on a new class as he sets his sights on another belt of his own.