James Cannon: “Gary Balletto Jr. is a Stepping Stone to bigger fights”

CRANSTON, RI (July 26, 2023) – James “The Loose” Cannon (8-8) believes he is in the right place at the right time. The California native was ecstatic to receive a call to face Gary Balletto Jr. (7-3) on late notice for the vacant CES MMA World Middleweight Championship on July 29th at the Historic Park Theater in Cranston, Rhode Island.

“I got this opportunity on July 7th,” recalls Cannon. “I was fresh off a fight camp as I fought on June 24th, so it was not a problem to take the fight on short notice. Once I checked out the opponent, I didn’t hesitate. Small dude with a weak chin. Sounds like a 1st round KO to me.”

CES MMA was originally set to announce a fight between Balletto Jr. and Saeid Mirzaei in early July, when “The Prince of Persia” pulled out of the fight with a few weeks to go. Thankfully for Balletto Jr., Cannon immediately stepped in to fill the void and the trash talking began.

“I don’t think much of him,” said a confident Cannon about his 28-year-old opponent. “I’ve been studying his fights. He seems pretty basic. He’s not dynamic or explosive. He has some weak ass boxing and sloppy submissions. I’ve seen his chin get tested in fights.”

When looking at the physical dimensions of the combatants, it’s hard not to notice a size differential between Cannon and Balletto Jr. While the latter is moving up from welterweight for this opportunity, the former has fought as high as light heavyweight and spent most of his career campaigning at middleweight.

“I hit hard for middleweight and he has been slept at welterweight,” explains Cannon. “I am used to getting in the cage with giants. Gary will be one of my smallest opponents yet. I plan on rag dolling him all over the cage. That’s if I don’t put him to sleep in the first exchange.”

However, while size and experience are factors in this fight, Cannon believes that punch resistance is the biggest difference between him and Balletto Jr.

“It isn’t just size and experience,” insists Cannon. “He is out of his tiny ass mind if he thinks he is faster than me. There is nothing fast about him. I’ve watched his fights. Gary gets his ass beat for 2 rounds and gets a sloppy submission on a guy who’s gassed. That would be a good game plan if he had a chin to back it up. You can’t train a chin. You either got it or you don’t, and Gary has a glass jaw.”

It’s no secret to either camp that true to his moniker, ‘The Loose’ Cannon will come out swinging on Saturday night looking to exploit what he perceives as Balletto’s biggest weakness.

“I think the key to victory for me is to put Gary on his back foot and attack him with everything I’ve got,” says the 30-year-old of his game plan on Saturday night. “He has a weak chin. I have range and power on my side. He is gonna be lost in the sauce 10 seconds into the first round. He will be reacting and trying to keep up. I am going to run through him.”

And while Cannon believes that he enjoys advantages in size and experience, he is equally unfazed at the prospect of facing Balletto Jr. in the proverbial lion’s den.

“I think he set himself up for failure,” says Cannon of fighting Balletto in his hometown of Cranston. “Gary brings nothing to the table in this fight. He is taking on a bigger, more experienced opponent in front of his home crowd with all that pressure. He has a lot to worry about in this fight. That type of pressure breaks people. I am gonna give him every reason to quit on Saturday night.”

Trash talk aside, James Cannon is clearly coming to win on Saturday night, and takes a reflective tone when describing what fighting for his first world title means to him.

“It’s an honor to fight for the title,” explains Cannon. “It feels like fate. I have been grinding in MMA for nearly a decade. CES is such a prestigious organization. Getting that belt around my waist and defending it will open so many doors for me and my family. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to chase my dreams. I don’t plan on wasting a second in that cage. Bell to bell I am coming for my belt.”

And with a breakout performance in his opponent’s hometown, Cannon hopes to not only gain a world title, but to propel his career to new heights.

“Getting a win over a 7-3 opponent is gonna look great on my record,” emphasizes Cannon. “Gary is a stepping stone to bigger fights. I plan on defending this belt and solidifying my reign at middleweight. After that, it’s off to the races. I wanna be able to train full time and take my career to the highest level.”

CES MMA 74 – Balleto Jr. v. Cannon for the CES MMA Middleweight Championship takes place this Saturday, July 29th at the Historic Park Theater in Cranston, Rhode Island. The card features 6 outstanding MMA bouts as well as 10 top level pro grappling matchups. Tickets on sale now, priced at $60, $80, $125 and $155 for a show that is sure to quickly sell out.

For more information on CES MMA 73 and all other CES MMA events, visit cesfights.com.

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