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Pitt Wrestler James Lledo Prepares for Third Amateur MMA Fight at Brawl in the Burgh 17



James Lledo

Pitt rising redshirt junior James Lledo has worked hard to stay in shape over the summer, as he continues his amateur MMA career with a fight on Saturday.

MMA stands for mixed martial arts and includes different modes of fighting, but the basics include grappling, striking and ground fighting. The sport takes different techniques from a variety of combat sports from across the globe, including boxing, wrestling, kickboxing, ji-jitsu, karate, judo and more. The most popular MMA fights take place in the UFC, where the fighters compete against each other in the “cage” or also known as the “octagon.”

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Pittsburgh Wrestling Club

Lledo will take on Manuel Bell in a middleweight bout at Brawl in the Burgh 17 this Saturday, July 15 at Monroeville Convention Center.

He is currently undefeated in his short career with just two fights so far. He won a catchweight bout against Derrick Brown III by armbar in the second round in his first match in July 2022 at Brawl in the Burgh 12. He then won a unanimous decision Ken Burrs in his last match on April 15 at Brawl in the Burgh 16.

With the summer in full swing, Lledo has spent every day preparing for his fight this weekend. This occurs at Stout PGH, the gym he fights under, with its training facility located in the Strip District neighborhood in Pittsburgh. At Stout, he works with Will Morrill, who coaches him on kickboxing and Mike Wilkins who coaches him on different forms of MMA.

Much of the work that he has undertaken is focusing on how to improve from his last fight. While he had a dominant performance that led him to the victory, the he also took some shots from Burrs that easily could’ve knocked him out.

“I gotta move my head,” Lledo said on how he’s improving from his last fight. “Well, I definitely saw what I was made of. I think I trust in that, but more from a technical standpoint, I got to be more safe and not leave myself so open and be sharper.”

Lledo has worked with fellow Pitt wrestling rising redshirt junior Geoff Magin throughout their time at Stout PGH. The two will fight on the same day for the first time this Saturday, as Magin (3-1) takes on undefeated Nick Nash (5-0) in a light heavyweight bout.

“Well, it’s huge,” Lledo said on him and Magin fighting at the same competition. “We’ve both been wanting this since we started training together. It’s a really cool milestone for us to fight on the same night.”

Brawl in the Burgh 17 will also serve as the first time that he has fought at a different location than his first two fights, which took place at Hollywood Casino at the Meadows in Washington, Pa. Lledo doesn’t mind where the fight is as he’s excited for his upcoming match, although he does prefer fighting at a casino.

Bell, his opponent, arrives to this fight with an 0-1 record and hasn’t fought since June 2012, where he lost to Jay Redick in a unanimous decision at XFE 16 in Chester, Pa.

“Not really,” Lledo said about his knowledge of Bell. “I don’t know much. It doesn’t really matter. I just know if I’m at my best, then I’ll be fine.”

Lledo plans to bring a big support group with him to the fight on Saturday, consisting of his family, friends and fellow Pitt wrestlers. He hopes to try and fight once more before the wrestling season gets underway, but for now, he’s just focused on the fight at hand.

“It feels great,” Lledo said. “I’m just excited for another opportunity to compete and get out there because this is what I love to do and I’m going to show how much I love it.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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