Let’s get ready to ruuummmbbbllle - again

Matt Mulligan

Burgeoning New England MMA promotion Cage Fighting Xtreme will hold Rumble in the Jungle II at the Plymouth Jungle Plex on Nov. 14, arguably the promotion’s most highly anticipated card to date.

Five amateur and 14 professional fights will take place, showcasing such local favorites as Greg Mendes, Steve Dunn, Chris Bagge and Brett O’Teri.

But the two biggest fights will feature some of the night’s biggest men, as Josh Diekmann takes on Christian Morecraft, and Lee Beane battles Josh Watson.

“We love the venue,” CFX promoter Linda Shields said of the Jungle Plex. “Running shows there will definitely be a running theme.”

Another running theme is the CFX’s commitment to charity. Each CFX event is associated with a different charity, and for Rumble in the Jungle II it will be the Red Cross.

“We’re working with the Red Cross in conjunction with this,” Shields said. “And we’re doing a couple of blood drives for them — and the dates will be announced at the show.”

The show’s military theme will ensure an assortment of massive military vehicles surrounding the premises, along with dedicated personnel.

Recently crowned CFX heavyweight champion Beane will defend his title for the first time against Watson. And Morecraft, who is ranked number one in New England, will battle number-two ranked Diekmann to settle the rightful numerical order.

“We’re really excited about Lee Beane defending his CFX heavyweight championship,” Shields said. “His first opponent — we just found out — (was injured) on Thursday. But we were able to find a replacement.”

That replacement, New York heavyweight Josh Watson, is renowned for his vicious knockout power.

“He has good knockout power,” CFX matchmaker Gary Forman said. “And a guy that can knock you out is going to pose problems.”

Rumble in the Jungle II’s other Superfight will be just as combustible when Diekmann and Morecraft finally square off inside the cage in a match that many local MMA promotions have been salivating over for nearly a year.

“There’s so much interest in this fight,” Shields said. “I think it’s because it’s two top guys. And I know both guys, so it will be one of those matcher that’s tough to watch. I can’t even tell you my prediction now; it could go any way.”

Diekmann (12-2) was labeled as New England’s best heavyweight until an injury forced him out of competition for the last year. Morecraft, with a spotless 3-0 record, has since stepped into the void to become the region’s top big man.

Both natural fighters with dual late starts into mixed martial arts, Diekmann and Morecraft each credit their respective training camps for their success.

The two fighters also share a New England background. Diekmann was born and raised in Westerly, R.I. before migrating to Connecticut. Morecraft’s trek to New England was more complicated. After being born and raised in Washington, D.C., his family moved to North Dakota, and finally ventured to Cape Cod by the time Christian was in the eighth grade.

Each man had a relatively late start into the sport they are now known for. Diekmann began training at “26 or 27” years old, upon the opening of the Strikezone in Connecticut. Convinced such training was “a good way to do cardio,” Diekmann became instantly hooked. At 23, the 6-foot-5 “and change” Morecraft has only been training for the last two years, “A little before my 21st birthday,” he said.

The 33-year-old veteran Diekmann’s experience advantage will perhaps be nullified by his 14-month hiatus from the ring. Following an injury, Diekmann was forced away from the cage. In his absence from competition, his position as number one ranked heavyweight in New England was usurped by Morecraft.

“I’ve been training for six years,” Diekmann said. “But for the last three or four months I’ve trained more serious than I ever have before. I learn something new every day. This is the first time ever I’m actually enjoying (training). I’m planning on putting on the best show ever. I look forward to seeing what I can do against New England’s number one heavyweight.”

Morecraft echoed Diekmanns’ respectful tones.

“I have nothing but respect for Diekmann,” Morecraft said. “He’s a warrior; I want to test my warrior-skill against him. But I feel I have a good chance. He has a good jab, good basic combos. All right grappling and wrestling. He has discipline and skills.”

The discipline and skill acquired from mixed martial arts has positively impacted the lives of both Diekmann and Morecraft.

“(MMA) was a good way to stay out of trouble,” Diekmann said. “I’ve been fighting my whole life; I’m not afraid to fight. But skill-wise, I’m, starting to learn. Now I’m training all the time, and living a cleaner life. And I’m evolving as a person.”

Morecraft’s journey into MMA was similar.

“Going to work in the dungeon, it keeps me out of trouble,” Morecraft said. “I like to (fight), but I got in trouble for it. Now in the ring, I get paid for it.”

Diekmann finds additional inspiration from his relationship with one of his late fans.

“Kyle Johnson died from a disease — and he was just a little kid,” Diekmann said. “And I took the belt that meant the most to me and gave it to him. He’s a big inspiration for me—to see how durable the human spirit can be. And the days I can’t go on, he’s my little angel. I just look at his picture or think about him. I’m still friends with his family. I consider myself fortunate to have known him.”

Diekmann has finished every fight inside of the first round in each of his 10 wins, with 6 KOs and 4 submissions.

Morecraft’s three victories have each come inside the opening stanza as well.

On paper, Diekmann has a definite experience advantage, having four times as many fights and being 10 years Morecraft’s senior, but there’s the injury factor.

“I haven’t fought in over a year,” Diekmann said. “I fought last September. I tore my collarbone off of my shoulder blade; I have a funny-looking shoulder now. I didn’t’ have the money for surgery or anything, so I did it the old-fashioned way—I just stretched and let it heal over time.”

“And (Morecraft’s) a pretty tough guy,” Diekmann said, citing his experience. “But I’ve fought pretty tough guys before in the UFC. There’s nothing I haven’t seen. He’s the number one best heavyweight around, and I thank him for the opportunity.”

Morecraft was asked if Diekmann’s experience will be an advantage come Nov. 14.

“Of course, man,” Morecraft said. “He’s been doing it longer, but I’m younger. Maybe he might know more, but I might be fresher. But the people are going to be excited. They know it’s two skillful dudes. I have tons of respect for (Diekmann), but business is business. I’m so happy and pumped up.”

“I don’t think it’s going to go the distance, that’s all I’m going to say,” Diekmann said. “Like I said, I prefer to do my talking when it’s time to get it done, but I’m going to try and get him out of there.”

Fighter weigh ins will take place at Barrett’s Ale House on 425 Bedford St. in Bridgewater, and will also be broadcast live on video and radio at CageFX.com. The fight card order will also be announced the same night, naming the main event.

After a “surprise” during the previous CFX event — the appearance of the Celtics Glen “Big Baby” Davis — Shields teased there will be an even bigger set of surprises Nov. 14.

“We have a couple planned,” Shields said. “One is guaranteed to get a laugh, even from the fighters. The one that I can announce now is that we will be having a 20-by-20-foot Jumbotron at this event. We call it ‘Gigantor.’ That’s going to be at every show from now on. It’s so big, the fighters are even bigger on the screen than in person.”