Gary Balletto Jr. Aims for Welterweight Glory at CES MMA 76

Gary “Batman” Balletto Jr. is on a quest to hoist yet more championship silverware into the Balletto clan’s trophy cabinet. Come Friday, February 23, our caped warrior is slated to square off against Pat “The Gorilla Ninja” Casey for the coveted, yet currently unclaimed, CES MMA World Welterweight crown.

This tussle is the jewel in the crown of CES MMA 76, a thrilling 7-fight spectacle hosted by Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, CT, with live streaming courtesy of TrillerTV. The preliminaries kick off at 8pm, accessible gratis right here, while the main card, commencing at 9pm, is available for your viewing pleasure on a pay-per-view basis here.

Should you fancy witnessing this spectacle live, tickets for CES MMA 76 are ripe for the picking at, Ticketmaster, or directly from the Foxwoods Box Office. Swift action is advised, as tickets are flying off the shelves!

For Balletto Jr., this marks his consecutive bid for a title, following his conquest of the vacant CES MMA Middleweight championship last July in his native Cranston, Rhode Island. There, Balletto Jr. ascended a weight class to lock horns with the more robust James “The Loose” Cannon.

Despite the naysayers doubting his chances against Cannon’s sheer bulk, the 29-year-old Balletto Jr. showcased his masterful technique, securing a victory via a seldom-seen naked choke in the second round.

“I had envisaged him shying away from the grapple, aiming instead for a decisive blow,” Balletto Jr. elucidates. “Yet, from the get-go, Cannon seemed out of his depth, eager to clinch, leading us into a ground skirmish that played out just as I’d hoped.”

This triumph crowned Balletto Jr. a world champion at 28, mirroring his father, Gary Sr.’s achievement of clinching the International Boxing Union world title in March 2003, at the same age.

Reflecting on this, Balletto Jr. muses, “It was almost twenty years to the day, which felt quite extraordinary. Clinching the world title before my home crowd made the victory all the more sweet.”

While the middleweight division suited him well, Balletto Jr. acknowledges welterweight as his more natural fit.

“Stepping on the scales at middleweight felt good, yet it’s a division that’s somewhat beyond my ideal,” Balletto Jr. concedes. “Cannon’s bout didn’t bring this to the forefront, but there exist behemoths in this class, towering at 225, who rehydrate to even more imposing proportions.”

To sidestep the daunting prospect of such size mismatches at middleweight, Balletto Jr. has opted to return to welterweight, where he perceives the physical disparities to be less pronounced. Merely seven months post his title-clinching performance, “Batman” finds himself vying for a title in yet another division.

Standing in his path is Pat Casey, a fighter of exceptional athletic prowess from Springfield, MA, who harbors his own championship aspirations.

“I’ve been aware of him for some time,” Balletto Jr. remarks on Casey. “My edge lies in my more extensive boxing background and my comprehensive early immersion in combat sports. Casey, though battle-hardened, strikes me as more of a brawler than a tactician. That’s where our paths diverge: he embraces the brawl, whereas I rely on my technical acumen.”

While Balletto Jr.’s life has been intertwined with combat sports, embracing boxing, wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu, and Judo from the tender age of 8, Casey ventured into MMA training at 25. Despite this disparity in experience, the Springfield native compensates with his dynamic physicality and athleticism, which he believes will overpower Balletto Jr.

“Casey might be on the lighter end of my usual sparring partners,” Balletto Jr. retorts. “My regular training comrades are heavyweight, 230-pound Division 1 collegiate wrestlers, so I’m well-acquainted with raw strength and agility. Although I once relied on explosiveness, my evolving experience has steered me towards a technique-centric approach.”

Balletto Jr. is a firm believer in the art of pacing oneself in combat, confident that as Casey’s energy wanes, he will dominate the fray.

“From the bouts I’ve watched, Casey is the sort to dive headfirst into the fray, a tactic I respect,” Balletto Jr. elucidates. “A fight, in essence, is about putting it all on the line, so while I admire his gusto, I remain unfazed by his physical prowess. At the end of the day, no matter your conditioning, an all-out exertion strategy is unsustainable.”

Should things unfold as he anticipates, come Saturday morning, Balletto Jr. will face a decision on which of his titles, middleweight or welterweight, he opts to defend.

“I don’t dwell much on the future; I live in the moment,” Balletto states plainly. “I lack a concrete strategy. I’m equally open to defending either title, or perhaps, on a whim, I might find myself gearing up for a boxing match. Opportunities shape my path. This sport is ingrained in me; it’s a reflection of who I am and what I relish. And when I say relish, I mean my wholehearted embrace of all facets of combat sports, be it boxing, kickboxing, MMA, varying weight classes, and beyond. I thrive on diverse challenges and don’t overthink my ambitions in the sport; I simply take action.”

Balletto Jr.’s nonchalant approach to his craft, coupled with his zest for the game, makes his dual division title quest all the more remarkable. His success is a testament to finding joy in one’s endeavors, a sentiment we, as fans, echo with every bout he graces.