On September 22, 2012, at the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City, Palestinian-American mixed martial artist Ashure "The Lionheart" Elbanna (2-0-0) of Newark will be stepping into the cage to take on fellow undefeated New Jersey resident Frankie Roberts (2-0-0).
The two Brazilian Jiu Jitsu specialists will lock up as one of the featured bouts at a Carl Mascarenhas & Son event entitled Asylum Fight League 39.
Long-time fight manager/promoter Hani Darwish of Extreme Fight Club gym in Woodland Park, New Jersey, says the Roberts fight will be one of three in quick succession for Elbanna, who will then leave the amateur ranks and turn professional. "He's extremely well-rounded and talented," said Darwish of Elbanna. "He's a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but he's also very strong in several other disciplines. Ashure is a true student of the mixed martial arts and I know he will be a major star in the professional ranks in the very near future. I've been around combat sports for a very long time and that's what a tremendous talent I consider him."
Elbanna, who began his MMA career about 2½ years ago, recently opened his own gym, Lionheart MMA in South Amboy, and now splits his time training between his own gym and Darwish's EFC. The two also make trips to other area gyms to work with fighters of different disciplines and styles.
"This area has a strong community for MMA," continued Darwish. "Ashure is able to train with a group of about 20-30 guys, many of whom are from (well-known fight organizations) Bellator and the UFC. They come to my gym, we go to theirs and Ashure's skill level is that much higher better because of it."
Elbanna will also appear at "Sherman Cage Rage Presents: Frontline Assault" on Friday, October 5, at the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, vs. Anthony McGlynn and again on Saturday, November 24, at Darwish's own "Extreme Fighting Championships 5: Undisputed" event at the Police Athletic League of Parsippany.
Twitter: @EFC_MMA, @hanidarwishmma