(Rick Hickman/American Press)
Last Modified: Sunday, August 17, 2014 12:06 AM
When Marcus Andrusia steps into the cage tonight he will find himself across from a veteran of the world’s biggest mixed martial arts promotion, the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Andrusia, a native of Southwest Louisiana, will headline Vengeance Fighting Alliance’s “VFA Round 4: Road to a Championship” against Corey Hill in a welterweight bout.
For Andrusia (4-7), the fight marks a long road in the world of MMA that has led him to a cameo in the world’s second-largest fight promotion, a four-fight losing skid and recovering to win two separate professional championships with the International Extreme Fighting Association.
The road began more than a decade ago when he attended an amateur event in Shreveport.
“My dad was ring announcing some local events up there and I happened to be in town for one of the shows,” Andrusia recalled. “I remember watching the guys that night and thinking that about half of them didn’t belong in the cage. That kind of made me want to try, because in my mind I thought I could beat most of those guys on heart alone, so a few weeks later I signed up and the rest is history.”
From that point on Andrusia focused on the new sport and excelled at the amateur level for more than five years before receiving the call to turn pro.
“My amateur career was pretty great,”he said. “I went 18-3 as an amateur, won two titles and got a call out of the blue one day to go pro.”
He won his first professional fight with ease, taking out Aaron Williams at Cage Rage 4 by making his opponent verbally submit due to strikes. After that fight he got a call to compete for Bellator, the second-largest MMA promotion in the world.
Andrusia lost that fight, but not due to nervousness or jitters.
“Really and truly it didn’t faze me,” he said. “I was against a very good opponent and I knew what I needed to do to win, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to. The only difference I found between Bellator and a local promotion is that there are more fans and they shove a camera in your face. Other than that, a fight is a fight, regardless of where you are at.”
He lost his next three fights before making a resurgence in May 2013 by capturing the IXFA lightweight championship. Less than a year later he earned a shot at the IXFA welterweight belt, which he took from Antonio Flores with a second-round TKO.
The two championship belts have helped Andrusia reach the biggest goal he had prior to beginning his professional career. He now has just one task on his mind.
“Really and truly, I have already reached my goals,” Andrusia said. “When I started this I never thought I would end up on TV, but I was able to do that with Bellator, my other goal was to win a professional title and I’ve done that twice now. Now the next goal in my career is to beat Corey Hill.”
When he enters the cage tonight Andrusia is prepared for Hill (6-7) in every facet, confident of his abilities in all areas of the fight.
“I’ve improved in all areas,” Andrusia said. “I am comfortable on my feet, on the ground or in the clinch. Wherever the fight may end up, I am confident that I will be able to have my hand raised.”
But tonight he faces an opponent in Hill who has fought on the biggest stage of them all and spent two years in the UFC after competing on the reality TV show “The Ultimate Fighter” on which he lost to eventual champion Nate Diaz.
Despite Hill’s résumé, Andrusia isn’t treating the fight more special than any other.
“Corey is a pretty decent fighter,” Andrusia said. “I have met him in person before and he is a stand-up guy. I don’t look at him different as anyone else I face, though. He fought in the UFC, but there is a reason why he isn’t there anymore.”
The doors for VFA Round 4 open at 6 p.m. today in the Rosa Hart Theatre with the undercard beginning at 7 p.m.
Other local fighters on display include Mike May, Devan Hargrave, Jimmy Boyette, David Simon, William Leeds, Cedric Scott and Demarcus Leonard.