Josh Samman tragically passed away in 2016, but the amateur MMA promotion he started, Combat Night, honored the fallen UFC veteran.
The promotion ran it’s first ever professional MMA event on Saturday, January 21 from The Moon in Tallahassee, Florida. Turning Combat Night from an amateur MMA promotion to a professional MMA promotion was always the goal from day one.
Mitchell Chamale, who ran the promotion alongside Samman, told MMA Fight just how Combat Night came into fruition.
“We cornered a guy named Ralph Valdez for his first amateur fight in Fort Pierce,” he told MMA Fighting. “He’s actually fighting in our pro card, and it really started as a competition thing because we went to this show and we were like, ‘man, we can do better than that.’ This was a great show, but we knew we could do one better. And Josh was like, ‘yeah, only if we had money.’ I was like, ‘well, I have money in the bank account,’ and he was like, ‘bro, that’s going to cost like 10 grand’. And you know how fighters are, they live by the day and they don’t save money and that kind of stuff, so I was like, ‘well, I got 10 grand in my account, so lets do it’. He didn’t believe me at first, he thought I was joking with him, but we got back home, and the next day he called and said, ‘you’re ready to to this?’ And we did it. When we started doing the events the vision kind of changed from just wanting to do something well, to just change the sport and help out a lot of amateur athletes. Like I said, there were a bunch of shows that were just kind of half-assing it and not doing the right thing. And when we came in, we both had the experience, we both had fought for Bellator, he [Samman] was just outside the UFC, and we had both fought for a lot of local promotions, so we knew what we didn’t like and we knew what we liked at the shows. So our goal was to take everything we did like and use it, and everything we didn’t like, we made sure we weren’t doing it. So I guess it started as us just wanting to do something better than the next guy, and once we started it, after two or three events in, we realized we could really make an impact in the sport in Florida and we wanted to help change people’s lives.”
While Chamale lost the motivation to continue promoting after Samman passed away, he found his passion again and ran their first pro event.
“At first, the motivation was gone,” Chamale said. “I didn’t really want to do the event. I talked to a couple of people close to me, and I was thinking about closing the doors, taking some time off. One of my buddies, Matt Munsey, had talked to Josh about the event too, there were some people that knew about the pro event, and he was like, ‘you’re still doing the pro show, right?’ And you know, we’re all broken up, and he was like, ‘we got to do it, man. We got to do it.’ And I was like, ‘man, I don’t know, it’s a lot of work for one person.’ That’s not something I wanted to get into, specially with everything going on. Like, I had a hard time just looking at Facebook, and much less multiple pictures of us, and just everything has Josh’s name attached to it, every email had him CC’ed. So every contact, every sponsor I had to get in touch with, I’m looking at these emails and of course it takes me down memory lane. So I went back and fourth for like two weeks and wasn’t sure if I was going to do it or not. And then, it kind of came down to the fact that I knew it was what Josh wanted, and in my head, it was kind of like his last wish. His last wish was kind of telling me, ‘hey man, do this pro show.’ It was a big deal to him and it was a big deal for me too, but it became much less of a big deal once he was gone. But then I realized that it’s even a bigger deal now, and now I have to do it.”
The main event of the first Combat Night professional MMA card will be a heavyweight division clash between Nick Roehrick and Danny Babcock.