James “The Loose” Cannon (8-8), hailing from California, could hardly contain his enthusiasm when he got the call to fight Gary Balletto Jr. (7-3) on short notice for the vacant CES MMA World Middleweight Championship. The epic bout is set to take place on July 29th at the Historic Park Theater in Cranston, Rhode Island.
Cannon, fresh off a fight camp with a match on June 24th, seized this golden opportunity that came his way on July 7th. He was quick to analyze his new opponent, belittling Balletto Jr. as a “small dude with a weak chin” and predicting a swift knockout in the first round.
Originally, the CES MMA was primed to announce a face-off between Balletto Jr. and Saeid Mirzaei early in July. However, when Mirzaei withdrew, Cannon promptly stepped in to replace him, and the verbal sparring commenced.
Cannon is unimpressed by his 28-year-old adversary. He declared, “I don’t think much of him. He seems pretty basic, not dynamic or explosive. His boxing is subpar and his submissions are sloppy. I’ve seen his chin get tested in fights.”
Comparing their physicality, Cannon is noticeable larger than Balletto Jr. who is moving up from welterweight for this match. Cannon, having fought as high as light heavyweight and mostly middleweight in his career, is unperturbed.
Claiming he packs a punch as a middleweight and has faced “giants” in the cage, he dismisses Balletto Jr. as one of his smallest opponents yet. He boldly declares his intent to dominate the fight, even suggesting a possible knockout in the first exchange.
However, size and experience aren’t the only factors at play here. Cannon believes the biggest difference lies in punch resistance. He’s quick to dismiss Balletto Jr.’s speed and resilience, asserting that he’s seen Balletto Jr. endure beatings and take advantage of exhausted opponents with sloppy submissions.
He firmly states, “You can’t train a chin. You either got it or you don’t, and Gary has a glass jaw.”
It’s evident that Cannon plans to strike hard and fast on Saturday, playing on what he believes to be Balletto’s biggest vulnerability. He intends to put Balletto on the defensive immediately, overpowering him with his range and strength.
Cannon is unbothered by the fact that the fight takes place in Balletto Jr.’s hometown of Cranston. He believes the pressure of fighting in front of a home crowd against a more experienced, bigger opponent will be Balletto Jr.’s undoing.
For all the verbal sparring, Cannon takes a somber tone when discussing what fighting for his first world title means.
“It’s an honor to fight for the title,” he says. “It feels like fate. I’ve been grinding in MMA for nearly a decade. CES is such a prestigious organization. Getting that belt around my waist and defending it will open so many doors for me and my family.”
By securing a win over Balletto Jr., Cannon hopes not just to claim the world title but to boost his career to a whole new level.
CES MMA 74 – Balleto Jr. v. Cannon is scheduled for this Saturday, July 29th at the Historic Park Theater in Cranston, Rhode Island. Tickets are available at $60, $80, $125 and $155, and the event is expected to sell out fast.
For more information on CES MMA 73 and other CES MMA events, visit cesfights.com.
Founded by legendary boxing promoter Jimmy Burchfield Sr., CES MMA is a Rhode Island-based mixed martial arts promotion company. It promoted the first sanctioned professional MMA event in 2010 and has a reputation as a gateway to the UFC, developing the careers of UFC contenders like Calvin Kattar, Rob Font, Charles Rosa, William Knight, Mike Rodriguez, Tony Gravely, Andre Soukhamthath and others.