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Mixed martial arts kicks off ‘Worlds Collide’ night in Westbury

Local MMA fighters get ready to participate in the annual KTFO series on their home turf, The Space at Westbury, on Dec. 16, 2016.  (Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara)

The Space at Westbury is trading guitar solos and high notes for face jabs and high kicks by staging a ticketed mixed martial arts (MMA) fight night. “Worlds Collide” is a 15-match event where local amateur fighters will face off.

“MMA is one of the fastest-growing sports because it’s very entertaining and it draws great athletes,” says Nic Canobbio, president of KTFO (Knock the Fighter Out) Fights, which is coproducing this and five other MMA events at the same venue next year. “It combines boxing with wrestling, kickboxing, grappling and jiu-jitsu. There’s a lot of action involved.”

Matches, which consist of three rounds lasting three minutes each, are held in a raised cage that sits in the middle of the floor, surrounded by seating. (VIP seats are on the stage with waiter service.)

A fight can end via knockout, submission or by decision. Much like in boxing, sanctioned referees guard against errant blows and other violations. But these contenders are fighting barefoot, with fingerless gloves.

“It’s the rawest form of fighting,” says coach Anthony D’Angelo of Long Island MMA and Fitness Center in Farmingdale. “You have to use everything you know all together and impose your will on your opponent.”

Because it’s amateur level, there’s no prize purse, therefore these fighters are there for the love of the sport.

“The most important thing is for these athletes to get the experience they need in order to move on to the next level,” says event co-producer Tom Kilkenny, president of Aggressive Combat Championships (ACC). “About 60-70 percent become professional fighters and the others simply enjoy the thrill of competing.”

“Worlds Collide” Mixed Martial Arts event

WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16, at The Space at Westbury, 250 Post Ave.

INFO 516-283-5566, thespaceatwestbury.com

TICKETS $50-$90

Meet three contenders from Long Island:

ERIC OTT

AGE 33

HOMETOWN Yaphank

HEIGHT 6-foot-3

WEIGHT 185 lbs.

RECORD 4 wins, 2 losses

WORKS AS Real estate investor and land surveyor

Growing up watching UFC as a kid, Ott joined a Brazilian jiu-jitsu gym and began training at age 18.

“I’ve always been competitive and I like combat sports,” he says. “Everybody’s got their hobby. Some people watch football, others go surfing, I do mixed martial arts.”

Training four to six days a week at Bellmore Kickboxing MMA Gym and Long Island MMA and Fitness Center in Farmingdale, Ott had his last bout two years ago. “Once I get in there, I’m really calm, laid-back and relaxed,” says Ott. “I’m focused on coming out with the win.”

JASON OLCOTT

AGE 20

HOMETOWN Miller Place

HEIGHT 5-foot-8

WEIGHT 145 lbs.

RECORD 2 wins, 0 losses

WORKS AS Meal prep restaurant worker

At age 16, Olcott got hooked into Brazilian jiu-jitsu, which led him to MMA.

“It’s my life,” he says. “I work and I train — that’s it.”

Working out once or twice a day at Kioto Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Academy in Port Jefferson, Olcott grew up playing football, which helped shape his athleticism. He has picked up a few injuries along the way such as a torn ligament in his elbow and a broken nose.

On Friday, Olcott fights for the KTFO featherweight title.

“I like to start slow and get a feel for my opponent,” he says. “When I’m feeling comfortable, I can start showing my game.”

AUSTIN WOLFSON

AGE 28

HOMETOWN Merrick

HEIGHT 6-foot

WEIGHT 170 lbs.

RECORD 4 wins, 0 losses

WORKS AS Special-education math teacher

Wolfson played lacrosse in college and was looking for a way to stay competitive.

“I get a lot of personal satisfaction out of MMA. It’s not about winning or losing. I just want to keep improving,” he says. “I feel like I haven’t peaked yet.”

Training twice a day at Bellmore Kickboxing MMA Gym, Wolfson has had stitches in his ear and over his left eye as well as a broken thumb, but that hasn’t stopped him.

“The key is to focus on the guy in front of you,” Wolfson says. “The person who sticks to the fundamentals and basics normally comes out victorious at the end.”

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