EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 20, 2013

MMA: Iraq war vet highlights Rock card

Iraq war vet highlights 'Throwdown at the Rock' card

By Lynne Snierson
Special to The Eagle-Tribune

---- — SALEM, N.H. — U..S. Army Capt. Jason Norwood, a combat veteran of the Iraq war, will fight Manchester’s Nate LaMotte in the main event of Combat Zone MMA’s “Throwdown at The Rock” on tomorrow night.

The New Jersey native, currently stationed at Food Hood in Texas, is also a veteran of last season’s “Bellator Fightmaster” reality TV series.

The married father of two, a West Point grad, represents Legionnaire Fight Team in the Garden State. Nicknamed “Righteous”, he pits his 12-3 record as a professional against LaMotte (12-6) of Manchester’s Team Burgess in what promises to be an intensely fought welterweight bout at 170 pounds.

LaMotte has been idle since a June 2012 loss to ranked fighter Bret Oteri.

Norwood, who was sent to Iraq at age 25 and spent 2009-2010 as an incumbent commander with 98 soldiers under him, downsplays that his opponent might have to shake off some ring rust.

“I hope to God that I get the best Nate LaMotte that has ever walked the face of this planet,” he said.

Capt. Norwood had to take leave to take this fight, which he contracted for six weeks ago after another scheduled match-up fell through. The two-time winner of the All-Army Combatants Championships, a competition featuring the best fighters from bases across the globe, is approaching this match with a strategic battle plan.

“Some of the best points of my game are direct derivatives of my military service. I do my homework and I prepare specifically for individuals. I know Nate probably as well as Nate knows Nate,” he said.

LaMotte, a Plymouth State grad, is undefeated while fighting in the co-main events on four previous Combat Zone cards. He will have a strong contingent of backers in the raucous crowd in Rockingham’s Sports Club, but Norwood doesn’t think that will make a difference.

“The name of my team is Legionnaire Fight Team and there is one thing that is true of all legionnaires; they never fought in Rome,” he said. “It’s something that we’re accustomed to. As a matter of fact, one of things we do, given the limited nature of our facility, is go in hostile territory weekly.”

Norwood, who was shot at and survived mortar attacks in Iraq, isn’t going to let any hostility from the crowd deter him.

“Let’s just say that I spent an entire year in a country where everyone wanted to kill me,” he said.

The co-main event also promises to be a competitive battle with Rodrigo Almeida (11-2) out of Lawrence, putting his five-fight win streak on the line against UFC veteran Walel Watson (11-6) from San Diego in a match-up at 140 pounds.

Almeida, who has quickly been rising up the regional ranks, comes in off a win in the co-main event of Combat Zone 45 in September.