Matrix Fights 5 Draws MMA Fans To South Philly “Octagon”

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Over 1,500 Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fans raised the roof at the Sheet Metal Workers Union Hall at Jimmy Binns’ Matrix Fights 5.

MMA fights fans went home happy after crowd favorite, Sam Orepeza defeated Aung La Nsang in the main event.

Now in its fifth year, Matrix Fights has a burgeoning reputation for bringing top-class MMA fight cards to the region.

Matrix Fights 5 was broadcast live on the HDNet – it was screened nationally, and will be re-broadcast internationally.

“We could have added more seats, packed people in and sold more tickets, but we wanted to give fans more of an intimate experience,” said Matrix Fights executive Phil Migliarese. “I think by the reaction of fans, everyone enjoyed the action.”

The Sheet Metal Union Hall Local 19, located on Washington Avenue and Delaware Avenue, is usually rented for corporate and non-profit functions, but this was the first time the facility was used for a MMA event.

Migliarese said the event took over one year to prepare.

A giant television screen beamed the fights live from a projection screen that was hung high above the concession area wall. Fans could buy tokens for beer and wine, fish sandwiches – it was Friday – and cheese steaks and watch from the concessions. Fight fans also picked up the new Matrix Fights shirts at the door.

However, inside the main function room was the place to be. Fight fans were seated in various levels. Some looked on from what is usually the staging area at the union hall – cheering their favorite fighter on. It was hard to find a bad seat in the house. Others, though, preferred the VIP sections that were closer to the infamous Octagon. The shiny sheet metal beams on the ceiling – that the Union banquet hall is best-known – created a unique backdrop and lighting effect for the TV cameras as they zoomed in on the fighters.

Former Penna. Boxing Commissioner Jimmy Binns Sr. was one of many dignitaries who sat ringside. IBEW Local 98 Business Agent Brian Stevenson, John Ranere, Vice President of Casino Marketing and VIP Operations at SugarHouse Casino, Wendy Hamilton, General Manager SugarHouse Casino, and Dan Stevenson of SugarHouse Casino were also in attendance.

Promoter Jimmy Binns Jr. said he would bring fights to the union hall again, but noted Matrix Fights is becoming so popular that alternative venues, such as a casino hall, might be more appropriate next year.

In Philadelphia, “Professor” Phil Migliarese – as his students refer to him – runs the popular Balance Studios, 108-114 S Bonsall St, which he co-owns with his brother, Ricardo.

Migliarese is a trainer, training partner and coach to UFC and MMA fighters as well as World and Pan-Am Champions. He has schools in center city and northeast Philadelphia, across the nation and affiliations across the world. Phil will be in Ireland in two weeks at a affiliate club.

The Migliarese brothers, both native South Philadelphians – were celebrating in and out of the Octagon over the weekend. While Phil Migliarese spent the evening co-hosting Matrix Fights 5 – prepping his fighters – hosting VIP’s and MMA executives – he was constantly on his phone to his brother, Ricardo – whose wife gave birth to their first child, Natalia Migliarese the next day at a nearby hospital. /Rory McGlasson

Sam Orepeza defeated Aung La Nsang with this hold during main event fight at Matrix Fights 5 at Sheet Metal Workers union hall in South Philadelphia on Friday night. Photo: (c) 2012 McGlasson Media

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