When Cage Fury Fighting Championships announced the opponent for Mike Pope’s (7-2 MMA) first title defense would be Joseph Lowry (5-0 MMA), he heard rumors that he had ducked his opponent previously.
The messages surfaced via Facebook. Although some claim Pope avoided Lowry in the past, the lightweight disagrees.
“I don’t know where this whole ‘Mike was ducking Lowry’ came from, who ever put that out is completely wrong,” Pope said. “If you go back to social media, I said I was taking the Borgata card off, my kids deserved to have me over the holidays.”
Pope Will find himself taking on Lowry at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the same arena where he captured the strap.
The 30-year-old won his CFFC lightweight title at CFFC 62 when he submitted Mike Wilkins (7-3) in the first round Dec. 17, 2016. It was Pope’s third straight title fight, first with the CFFC.
Pope first fought for a lightweight title against Joey Holt (7-2) at Gladiator of the Cage last June where he succumbed to strikes. Pope submitted Richard Gates (4-1) in his next bout at PA Cage Fight 26 Oct. 15, 2016.
It marked the first title win of Pope’s career.
Pope’s first defense of the CFFC lightweight title will be in Philadelphia on May 20, 2017. It will be Lowry’s first opportunity at a professional MMA strap.
The 27-year-old stopped Daisuke Yamaji (2-1) in the second round of his last contest at CFFC 63 on February 18, 2017 at the Borgota Hotel and Spa.
“They say to be the champ you have to defend the belt and there is always that added fire and push, I think a lot of people think I was gonna lose to Wilkins. I don’t think anybody saw me winning the belt,” Pope said. “There is a little bit of wanting to train harder because you got people to prove wrong, it gives you that added fire that you want to make that stamp. Beating Lowry and defending my belt in my opinion will silence my biggest critics.”
“Popezilla” started his MMA career in Virginia, training aside fellow fighters like Ryan Hall (6-1). He moved back to Florida following his victory over Kyle Newson (3-1) and the reconstructive Surgery on his ACL, tearing it before his first professional bout.
“At that point it (ACL surgery) was much needed and I got two kids, I had been putting fighting first for the longest time,” Pope said. “Making the move would make things easier to concentrate and to put some things back in the front seat”.
“Popezilla” now trains out of Ludus MMA in Jacksonville, Florida under Billy Mitchell, as well as Head Strong Gym under the tutelage of his boxing coaches Bobby Wallace and Nate Campbell.
When asked where he felt the rumors were coming from, Pope was clear that he didn’t want to make crazy accusations. He prefers to stay away from the drama side of things. He feels Lowry wanted the title fight for a long time andmaybe that’s what he told his fans.
No matter what happened, Pope is unfazed.
“Joe is not intimidating me, I respect him as a fighter and as someone who does the same thing I do,” Pope said. “But as far as the intimidation factor there is none on this end.”
By Matt Steck