Behind The Fighter
The Return Of Billy Jessie
By Greggy Harrison
On Friday May 16th, 2014, a known Chicagoland fighter will return to the cage after a twenty one month absence to fight for Jim Jackson's Supreme Promotions show and it will be for a title bout. Billy Jessie returns as he will face Bobby Kpa for the 205 pound title belt. Jessie, who is making his debut with the promotion has been a card headliner before at shows put on at Bourbon Street in Merrionette Park, Illinois so this will be nothing new for Jessie as he will have a big following with him for sure come this Friday night at Georgios Banquet Hall in Orland Park, Illinois. On behalf of MoreMMA.com, I had the opportunity to interview Jessie to learn more about the life behind the fighter in a question and answer interview.
MoreMMA: How did you get into MMA?
Jessie: Both my parents came from big family's. Mom had five sisters, two brothers and Dad had one sister and four brothers. They all had multiple kids. My parents weren't suppose to be able to have kids but somehow had me. At all the Holiday party's by my dad's family I would get my ass whooped by all my cousins until I was six I think. My Grandma who was like 4'5, 85 pounds but 100% Italian so she was like 8'12 you know?. So she got me a wiffle ball bat for Christmas with me not thinking because I always thought baseball was a gay ass sport but she just smiled and said I was welcome. Two hours later I was chasing all my cousins around the backyard with with it whooping them (chuckles), so I guess that’s what put the taste in my mouth. I guess if you check my M.O, I have always stood up for myself, my friends or what I believed in. I never backed down. I owe my pops for that one because he's the best man I have ever met and my best friend. Pops taught
me to stand my ground, be a man, and never back down from anyone but don't ever start nothing but if he's talking trash you better throw the first punch and whoop his ass. Pops was a hard working country boy at heart. He taught me a lot and instilled a lot into me and anyone who knows him understands me. I got in trouble a lot for fighting my whole life and had a problem with authority figures because I believed respect was earned and not given because that badge never meant shit but as I got older I learned to pick and choose my battles. When the opportunity arose for me to get paid to do what I kept going to jail for I just said fuck it why not right? Jimbo(Jim Pacione) finally got me to go to the gym and I was hooked. LA Boxing in Wrigley man. That place was a blast and I remember being scared out of my mind walking in with Jimbo G-lo to Amanda (Bulldawg), Joe (Ryu), Norman, Aaron, and Robbie. Just a bunch of loud mouths that made you feel like you were
at home man. That first night out there at LA Boxing was amazing. They kicked the shit out of me like we were in the alleys in Argo but man was it fun. I miss them guys out there. Much love to the whole team in Wrigley.
MoreMMA: After a year and a half out of the cage, what made you want to get back in there again?
Jessie: Probably the adrenaline that’s like skydiving. You never know who the better man will be that night you know? I had some legal issues and some Injuries that had to be taken care of so after a small vacation the itch came back. Everyone is so supportive of me when I'm in that cage. I have a huge following and guess they just like to see a local from the south side of Chicago not fucking up his life. Teachers always told me my fighting would get me nowhere. HA!!!!
MoreMMA: What has been your biggest Moment in MMA?
Jessie: It wasn't inside the cage but the one that stands out and my proudest was the day my daughter called me hysterically crying because she was at the mall with her friends and she saw me on a poster at Eminent. She was so happy and proud to tell everyone in the store that I was her father. I would have to say that might be one of my proudest ones in life. The one inside the cage was after my second fight. The whole place was filing out and there was this one little boy standing on crutches who just wanted a picture with me. We picked him up and took him into the cage and the kid was super stoked. That picture still never surfaced but that was another great moment for me.
MoreMMA: You have been getting trained by Jim Pacione who is a great striking coach. What has that experience been like?
Jessie: Man, that guy is amazing. One of the greatest guys I have ever met. That dude would give you the shirt off of his back. He is one one of the best fathers I have ever seen in life. His whole family all the way around is just good people. Jimbo kept me on the straight path even when I was at my worst. He is my big bro in many more ways then he knows. If I even struggle with anything he will always answer his phone. He is one of the last dying breed. As for his training man, he is an asshole (laughing) he pushes me past all limits I ever seen. He has a way of instilling confidence in you. The dude is amazing at putting together a game plan and picking the opponents apart. He is good at what he does and I'm glad to have him in my corner.
MoreMMA: Who are your biggest influences in your life?
Jessie: My kids man. If it wasn't for them I would be dead or in jail. My daughter who I had at 17 has had one hell of a life. She is my heart and I wouldn't change it for the world. We have our ups and downs but she is definitely a little me. Oh man and my son. This little dude is a spitting image of me and acts just like me too. He is a trip. My kids are my world. My pops has always been a strong influence on me too. He would put a whooping on me when I messed up something something fierce but I love and respect him for it now. There's also my little circle of friends that I call family. We were a bunch of fuck ups but all know what we bring the table and there is not a thing I will not do for them. There is a lot of love and loyalty there.
MoreMMA: Who would you like to thank that has helped you on this journey?
Jessie: All my friends and family. The whole southside of Chicago. One sponsor that sticks out is Defiance because they took me in as one of their own. Byron and Crystal I love ya both and the whole Indiana family. The world needs more Genuine people like y'all. I never seen stars like that in my life sitting in your backyard in the little town called Lowell, Indiana. Definitely some things I will never forget. I met so many great people coming into this sport. I have learned discipline, respect and to stay humble. You don't lose. You win or learn. I look forward to May 16th fighting Bobby Kpa for the Supreme Promotions 205 pound belt. He is a tough guy and I promise to leave it all in the cage. Thanks again to Jimbo, Johnny, Zaid, Phil, Danny, Spencer who helped get me ready for this fight. Ufc gym's Omar, Dave, Adam, Mike and G Lo the list goes on and on. The guys out at Gracie Baha in Downers Grove. Hammerfist Gear, Goodfellas Barbershop, Pole Katz,
Scores all the love from everyone thank you. Skin and Art by Zaid Rashida (708) 860-9899 and The Office Sports Bar and Grill 4901 Cal Sag Road in Crestwood, Illinois where my after party will be. Accelerated Rehabilitation and Cafe Gaston at 14438 John Humphrey Drive in Orland Park, Illinois.
You can come see Billy in the cage this Friday in Orland Park, Illinois as Supreme Promotions invades Georgios Banquets at 8800 West 159th Street. Get your tickets now at www.supremeprotions.net
Mike Davis's United Combat League returned to invade Bourbon Street in Merionette Park, Illinois Friday night with ten bouts on the card in which seven were mma bouts including the main event for the 155 pound belt between Dan Bravo and Neko Durant. Durant would dominate the fight from start to finish out wrestling Bravo followed by scoring strikes to win by unanimous decision. There was also one women's bantamweight bout that took place as well that featured Debra Bartecki making quick work of Shantara Profit defeating her at just 17 seconds of opening round Heavyweight Phil Garreau was originally set to headline the card to face Quinn Corbett, but just two days before the bout, Corbett pulled out due to injury. Garreau still fought on the card in a kickboxing bout defeating Dave Hammonds by technical knockout in the opening round. Other bouts took place during the night with a Muay Thai bout as UFC Gym's Cole Vujosevic put on a dominant performance defeating Mike Trtan by technical knockout in the second round. Two other Kickboxing bouts took place as well. Jon Zlowinski faced Brian Titus in the show opener winning by technical Knockout at 1:55 of the opening round and Jon Legania defeated Chris wooldridge at 1:19 of the second round by technical knockout. Gilbert Grappling's Moe Maali closed out the first half of the card facing Team Top Notch's Marchand Hughes. Maali's wrestling skills paid off as he dominated the fight with scoring takedowns passing through any submission attempts Marchand would try from the bottom. Maali's big performance earned him a unanimous decision win. Another Gilbert Grappling fighter also entered the cage as Mark Marinovich faced Aaron Davis in a lightweight battle. Marinovich proved to be the better wrestler of the two for all three rounds also winning a unanimous decision. In the first mma bout of the evening two heavyweights collided as Dean Neely took on Logan Fisher. It was only a matter of who connected with the big punch in which Neely would do. Neely would connect with a big right dropping fisher finishing him to get the TKO victory at the 1:19 mark of the opening round.
Jon Zlowinski defeated Brian Titus by tko due to strikes 1:55 round 1
Jon Legain defeated Chris Wooldridge by tko due to strikes 1:19 round 2
Phil Garreau defeated David Hammons by ko 1:09
Muay Thai Bout
Cole Vajosevic defeated Mike Trtan by tko due to strikes at :35 round 2
155 pound championship bout
Neko Durant defeated Dan Bravo by unanimous decision
Dean Neely defeated Logan Fisher by tko due to strikes 1:43 round 1
Mark Marionovich defeated Aaron Davis by unanimous decision
Moe Maali defeated Marshawn Hughes by unanimous decision
Lucas Hyre defeated Glenn Evans by tko due to strikes at 2:29 of round 2
Debra Bartecki defeated Shantara Profit by tko due to strikes at :17 of round 1
In the world of mma there isn't just one particular fighter that we see training and getting into the cage but we also see that this sport has brothers that share the same passion of blood, sweat, tears and the drive to take it as far as they can go in their careers. You hear about the Miller's, Pettis's, Guidas, to name a few but in the Midwest and Chicagoland mma scene there's Gilbert Grappling's Gino and Larry Digiulio. Larry, the older brother of the two is a professional fighter that holds a record of 16-7-1 and is the current Iowa Challenge bantamweight champion. Larry also made his debut in Finland recently cutting to 125 pounds for the first and winning a unanimous decision. Larry has not announced anything new as of yet but looks to be back in the cage real soon. Gino, the younger brother of Larry is also a professional with a 5-5 record coming off a submission win March 1st of this year at Midwest Fight Series. Gino will be returning to Midwest Fight Series on April 4th in Indianapolis, Indiana facing Andrew Holbrook in a lightweight bout. MoreMMA.com had a chance to sit down with the two brothers from Chicago Heights for a short interview to get more of an in depth story behind these two warriors.
Moremma: How did you two get involved in the sport of mma?
LD: I started wrestling at the age 16 sophomore year in high school when I went to a camp held by the Gilberts and just been involved with it ever since.
GD: I started coming in a year after Larry and did the wrestling camps as well then had my first fight at the age of 18.
Moremma: What is it that you both do to push each other to get better in the cage?
LD: I was the more the athletic of the two. When Gino was younger, I was the big brother kind of bully to just help get him better with him being younger.
GD: It's definitely the older brother/younger brother kind of thing. We go pretty hard in training and we are not afraid to hurt each other.
Moremma: What are your goals you both want to achieve in your fighting careers?
LD: I want to just take it as far as I can go, and of course get to the UFC. Just to keep fighting professional as long as I can.
GD: I also want to take it as far as I can go as well. I teach English at Lake Central High school in St John, Indiana so I'm trying to balance both careers.
What has been your best moments so far in your careers?
LD: Winning my first belt as a professional in Iowa and my debut at 125 winning over in Finland.
GD: My first fight in general was big for me because I waited five years for it. My first professional fight was also a big moment for me too but I still have a lot more to achieve though.
Moremma: Is there anybody out there you both want to thank that’s been a big part of your careers as fighters?
LD: Joey and Danny Gilbert definitely because they have been there for me from the day we started.
GD: Joe and Danny Gilbert and also Larry. My wrestling coach in Grade school Joe Benoit. Just Gilbert Grappling in general because that’s where it all began.
I believe behind every athlete that there is a story. It's not just about what everyone sees in the cage but what it is that makes these guys who they are today and what has gotten them to where they are at now. On behalf of MoreMMA.com, one guy that caught my eye was lightweight amateur fighter Mike Demakes. Demakes is currently preparing for his upcoming cage fight on March 14th as he will fight for Jim Jackson's Supreme Promotions event that will be held at Georgios Banquet Hall at 8800 West 159th Street in Orland Park, Illinois. I had a chance to interview the Countryside native to ask him what got him into the sport of mixed martial arts and what his goals are.
GH: What was it that got you in to mma?
MD: In high school I was a three sport athlete, football, baseball, and powerlifting. Competition was fun, and since I decided not to play D3 football, I missed that competition. I heard about LA boxing and their jiu- jitsu classes and said "hey, why not try it out!" So my buddy and I went up and even though I got my ass handed to me the whole time, it was an immediate attraction. As time went on and I worked at it 4-5 times a week I improved and started rolling with the immortal guys. I started going to their practices and started working striking and sure enough with improvement wanted to try a fight. The guys I had, Tony, Marko, Ruggio, Como, Kevin, prepared me, I won a war and that for sure made the love for the sport grow.
GH: What is your goal being in this sport?
MD: My goals in the sport is to see how far I can go, if it's a title or pro, but I got other things going in my life as well, but I'm not done in this sport.
GH: Are you looking on turning professional pretty soon after your March 14th fight?
GH: As far as turning pro after my March fight, I have the people around me to get me ready, great coaches, training partners, and Jim Jackson has opened the doors to a few other gyms to me. We will see what is presented to me after this fight and talk to some promoters and see where I am.
GH: Who are your biggest supporters in your life?
MD: I couldn't be where I am without my step dad, who I call dad, he took me in and changed my rough child hood. He's a role model to me, and is always behind the decisions I make. Also I have some great friends, who as well are always behind me, staying positive, picking me up when I need them.
GH: How has getting involved in mma changed your life?
MD: This sport has giving me discipline. Having a rough childhood, I didn't always make the best decisions growing up, sports in general kept me in check, but this one over the years has kept me busy.
For more information about Supreme Promotions upcoming event, go to www.supremepromotions.net