Home Boxing News Ortolani achieves success amidst hectic two-sport schedule

Ortolani achieves success amidst hectic two-sport schedule

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Sept. 1, 2011) Forget long, hot steam baths or applying bags of ice to ailing joints.

When John Ortolani leaves the practice field, he heads to the gym for even more abuse.

The 25-year-old Billerica, Mass., native lives a double life as one of the most unique athletes in Major League Lacrosse (MLL) – a third-year faceoff specialist for the league champion Boston Cannons who also happens to hold a full-time job as a professional cage fighter.

After completing his most recent season with the Cannons, which ended with a championship in August, Ortolani will turn his attention to mixed martial arts on Friday, Sept. 9, 2011 when he faces New Jersey lightweight Mike Medrano on the undercard of “Road To Glory” at the Twin River Event Center in Lincoln, R.I., presented by Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports.

Sept. 9 will be Ortolani’s 10th professional bout – he’s 5-3 with 4 knockouts, but his debut ended in a no contest – highlighting another hectic year in which he’ll spend a total of 10 months playing both indoor and outdoor lacrosse while simultaneously training twice a day, six days per week for mixed martial arts.

“Sometimes it wears on you,” Ortolani said, “but being involved with two different sports allows you to mix things up so you don’t get burned out or bored with anything.”

The MLL seasons runs from mid-April to August, including training camps and playoffs, but Ortolani also plays for the Boston Blazers of the National Lacrosse League, an indoor league that begins its season in December and ends in May.

The end of the NLL season overlaps with MLL – regular-season NLL games conclude in April while MLL is beginning its offseason camps, and the NLL playoffs run through the second week of May, which is the same time the MLL regular season begins – but Ortolani has played in both leagues for each of the past two years in addition to running summer camps for high school players in cities such as Atlanta, San Diego and Denver. Ortolani also works as an assistant coach for the Billerica High School wrestling team, so he trains in the morning and at night during the season and coaches practice in between from 2 to 5 p.m.

His weekly commute during lacrosse season is equally taxing; he lives in Billerica, but trains at Gracie Barra in Nashua, N.H., and practices and plays lacrosse at Harvard Stadium in Boston. Both locations are a half-hour train ride from his home.

“My only offseason is from now until Thanksgiving,” he said.

With a four-month breather from lacrosse, Ortolani tries to schedule his fights between August and November, but often has no choice other than to fight when an opportunity presents itself – even if that means he has to take a fight during lacrosse season, such as July 29 when he faced Lincoln’s Jeff Anderson in New Hampshire the night before the Cannons played in Denver.

“I was supposed to fly out the next day, but I was just too sore,” said Ortolani, who lost the fight by split decision. “It was a pretty good war and I wasn’t in shape to play.”

What might seem like two conflicting schedules has actually evolved into a daily routine that benefits his performance in both sports. Ortolani is a face-off specialist in lacrosse, which means he’s only on the field to win face-offs – a job similar to that of a punt- or kick-return specialist in football. His Jiu-Jitsu background has helped him become one of the best in the league.

“I’m one of the smallest face-off guys,” said the 5-foot-8 Ortolani, “so I have to use other things to my advantage, such as leverage. I use the other guy’s pressure against him.

“The position takes a real specific mentality. Face-offs are basically a wrestling match, and when that whistle blows you have to fight for the ball.

“Everything I do keeps me on point,” he added. “I like to keep myself as well-rounded as possible and just make myself a better overall athlete in every aspect of the game. Staying in shape is the biggest thing, and MMA training helps with that.”

Ortolani has an equal love for both sports (he started playing lacrosse first while at Billerica High), but realizes mixed martial arts presents the most reasonable path to success. The opportunity to make more money and become a household name in mixed martial arts is within reach, and Ortolani hopes Friday’s showdown against Medrano (9-8, 2 KOs) is a step in the right direction.

“Some guys can live off lacrosse, but right now it’s not as mainstream as it will hopefully be in the future,” he said. “Most of the guys have full-time jobs and play on weekends. My full-time job happens to be fighting. I’m pretty much at the top in lacrosse right now. The only step up would be to become a starter, whereas there is still so much for me to shoot for in MMA.”

The main event of “Road To Glory” features Providence light heavyweight Greg Rebello (12-3, 6 KOs) facing Somersworth, N.H., up-and-comer Cody Lightfoot (6-1, 4 KOs).

Pawtucket, R.I., middleweight Todd Chattelle (8-6, 7 KOs) – one of two new additions to the CES roster – will star in the co-feature against Elias Rivera (5-6, 1 KO), who founded the Team Dog Pound Full Contact Team gym in Meriden, Conn., and has more than 30 years of experience in mixed martial arts. This will be Chattelle’s third fight for CES, but his first as an official member of the roster as he aims for his third consecutive win.

The “Road To Glory” undercard also features a marquee showdown between two of the hardest hitters in mixed martial arts as middleweight Steve Skrzat (4-4, 4 KOs) of Burrillville, R.I., faces the dangerous Scott Rehm (5-5, 5 KOs) of Brookline, Mass. The two fighters have combined to win all nine of their fights by knockout; both are also in search of their first victory since 2010.

In the welterweight (170-pound) division, James “The American Outlaw” Boran (5-0, 1 KO) of Framingham, Mass., will put his undefeated record on the line against veteran John Manley (6-1) of Ludlow, Mass. Manley rebounded from his first career loss against Dennis Olson by cruising to a unanimous-decision win over Jason Trzewieczynski on April 8 at Twin River.

Evan Parker (3-2) of Leominster will face Mike Marchioni (5-1) of Marshfield in an intrastate featherweight bout between two Massachusetts rivals; lightweight Dinis Paiva Jr. (1-0, 1 KO) of East Providence, R.I., will face unbeaten Jimmy Collins (3-0) of Waltham, Mass.; and Wilfredo Santiago Jr. (2-1, 2 KOs) of Lawrence, Mass., will face middleweight Francisco Ferreira (2-0) of Pawtucket.

The undercard also features the professional debuts of Central Falls, R.I., middleweight David Versailles, Framingham flyweight Chris Conception and lightweight John DeRusha of South Shore Sport Fighting in Rockland, Mass. DeRusha will face Brendan Rooney (1-0) of Milford, Conn.; Conception will battle Chris Cole (2-1) of America’s Best Defense in North Attleboro, Mass.; and Versailles will fight Fran Collins (1-0) of Worcester, Mass.

Tickets for “Road To Glory” are $35.00, $55.00, $100.00 and $125.00 and can be purchased by calling CES at 401.724.2253/2254, online at www.cesmma.com or www.twinriver.com, at the Players Club booth at Twin River, or through any TicketMaster location. Doors open 6 p.m. with the first bout scheduled for 7.

(Twin River has waived its 18+ rule for “Road To Glory.” Anybody under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult and must enter through the West entrance.)

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