By Ray Hamill — It’s taken a little longer than expected, but local MMA star Orion Cosce will return to the cage this weekend for his second professional fight, traveling to Wisconsin to fight in the main event at Warrior Games V.
Cosce, who comfortably won his pro debut back in September, was forced to postpone his expected return in December for a couple of reasons, but is finally back, refocused, refreshed and eager to get back out there.
“I’m ready,” he said. “I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life.”
Preparation for his comeback was hampered when he broke his hand in two different places during training.
In addition, six years ago at the age of 18 he was diagnosed with a heart condition, Mitral Valve Prolapse, something he has had to keep close tabs on.
It doesn’t prevent him from fighting, but he needs to monitor it and be smart about what his body is telling him.
“I go get a heart check every single year and the doctors tell me ‘if you need to take time off, take time off, and other than that you’re in great health,’” he said. “So whenever I feel a flare up, I just let my body rest and then I feel okay.”
Cosce did exactly that since his last fight, taking advantage of the break to refocus physically and mentally.
“I took a month off. I think my body needed that,” he said. “I had been working out two or three times a day and I think it was straining my body. So I let it heal.”
The difference has been noticeable, with Cosce reinvigorated and confident heading into the Saturday night showdown in Wisconsin.
“Preparation has been amazing,” he said. “I’ve been working out two or three times a day for the past month, and I feel I’m in the best shape of my life. I feel I’ll be stronger.”
Cosce, who is affiliated with the Lost Boys Gym in Arcata but works and trains in the Sacramento area, will fight Jesse Nutting for the Warrior Games welterweight title.
Nutting, a Massachusetts native based in Washington, is 1-3 and offers a threat in several ways.
“He has a mixture of everything,” Cosce said. “And he has some experience, but I’m not worried about that. I’ve fought guys with experience before and won.
“But I know anything can happen, so I’ve got to go out there and be smart.”
Lost Boys trainer Brian Wilson believes Cosce is the best MMA fighter to come out of Humboldt County.
“If you see one of his fights, there’s something electric about him,” Wilson said. “He dominates every fight.”
As for his strengths, Wilson believes it’s that he has no weakness.
“He’s a top level grappler, he’s a purple belt in Brazilian jiu Jitsu, and he has a very strong wrestling pedigree,” the trainer said. “He’s one of the best wrestlers to come out of this area, and at this point he can strike with anybody. He’s really a great mixed martial arts fighter.”
The big occasion is unlikely to get to Cosce, who has a reputation of never getting flustered in the cage.
“The crazy part is I never get nervous when it comes to stuff like that,” he said after his first-round TKO of Isaiah William at Warrior Games III in September, when he was awarded the knockout of the night on the 10-fight card.
He certainly did enough to impress the promoters, who immediately invited him back, making the former H-DNL wrestler the main attraction this weekend.
For comparison, Tapology.com has Cosce currently ranked No. 501 out of 1,240 pro welterweight fighters in the nation, while Nutting is No. 1028.
“Honestly, I’m confident I’ll beat him,” said Cosce, who is also ranked No. 70 in California.
Nutting has lost three straight fights.
The build-up to Saturday’s main event, including weigh-ins and warm-ups can be followed live on Cosce’s Facebook Page, where local fans can also find access information to stream the fight live.
The main event is expected to get under way somewhere around 6:30 p.m.
“I just need to be the best me when I go out there,” he said. “I’ve got to keep everything up to standard and do the basics, and I can’t underestimate my opponent.”
The former Hoopa Warrior is confident it’s just another step on his MMA journey.
“I’m only 24,” he said. “And I’m still climbing up.”