Travis Lizotte "Full Contact Writer"
It's a common phrase around the fight game, perhaps even more so during the "Covid Era;" "If you stay ready, you don't have to get ready." That sentiment was echoed loud this week when Combat Zone Amateur Featherweight Champion, and New England Fights Amateur Featherweight Champion Tom "The Phenom" Pagliarulo (5-1, Amateur) signed on the dotted line, to make his Professional debut, this Thursday at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as part of the Main Card at Cage Fury Fighting Championship 92, which will be streamed live on UFC Fight Pass. Oft garnered around the region as the "Next" Featherweight Prospect to come out of New England, the "New England Cartel" protege Pagliarulo may be the best equipt amateur in New England to make the professional leap on just four days notice.
Though Pagliarulo has not appeared in the cage since capturing the Combat Zone MMA Amateur Featherweight title in November of 2019, that by no means indicates that Pags has been "on the shelf." Pagliarulo has perhaps been busier than most amateurs since the Covid initiated layoff, as "The Phenom" serves as the main sparring partner to both "New England Cartel" teammates, the UFC's Calvin Kattar and Rob Font. With Kattar and Font pushing their way into title contention over the last year or so, Pagliarulo has seen plenty of high level work, preparing the regions duo for their run at UFC gold. Paired with the backing of Head Coach/ Manager Tyson Chartier, who's eye for talent and budding careers is second to none, Pagliarulo will be ready to go when the bell rings on his pro debut Thursday night against Pennsylvania native and former Art of War (Philadelphia, PA) Amateur Featherweight Champion, Shawn Stefanelli (Pro Debut, 5-3 Amateur).
Haverhill's Pagliarulo has looked virtually unbeatable in his last three amateur appearances, in which he defeated Zac "Rocky" Richard (3-0-1) by Decision at NEF 38 to capture the vacant NEF Amateur Featherweight Title, then defended his belt with a first round drubbing of Jimmy Jackson (4-3) at NEF 40, before capturing his Combat Zone MMA Ammy Featherweight Strap with a first round Knockout of Brandon Gibbs (4-1) at Combat Zone 72. There was no question in anyone's mind that Tom was ready compete in the professional ranks, and Chartier did a wonderful job positioning Pagliarulo to make his professional debut with "all eyes on him" as he makes his first professional walk for the world to see on UFC Fight Pass.
His opponent; the 28 year old Grindhouse MMA product; Shawn Stefanelli went to decision in all but two of his Amateur bouts, capturing a regional amateur title along the way, before punching his pro card against New England's Pagliarulo this Thursday. If I were a betting man, I would have money on this one not making it to the judges table, as I believe what Pagilarulo relinquishes in "cage experience" to Stefanelli, will be more than made up for in talent and savagery on Pagliarulo's end. If "The Phenom" performs up to his potential this Thursday, I see a dominant stoppage coming, and a seed planted into the minds of promoters across the globe that the next new "Featherweight Phenom" may very well lie within the New England Cartel camp.
To watch Pagliarulo represent New England Thursday night at CFFC 92, fans can tune into UFC Fight Pass at 7 pm Eastern Time as Pagliarulo vs. Stefanelli highlights a Main Card that culminates with CFFC Flyweight Champion Alberto Trujillo (5-1) defending his Flyweight crown against Challenger Phumi Nkuta (2-0) in the evenings Main Event. Below is a quick look at the full CFFC 92 fight card that will take place at Philadelphia's historic 2300 Arena this Thursday night.
CFFC 92 Main Card:
Main Event: Alberto Trujillo (5-1) vs. Phumi Nkuta (2-0)
Co-Main Event: Saidyokub Kakharamonov (7-2) vs. Tycen Lynn (8-4)
Vacant Bantamweight Title
Charalampos Grigoriou (4-2) vs. Christian Rodriguez (4-0)
William Tucker (0-1) vs. Bryan Bautista (2-1)
Tom Pagliarulo (Debut) vs. Shawn Stefanelli (Debut)
Terry Bartholomew (7-3) vs. Kasey Tanner (4-0)
Geoffrey Mellor (2-2) vs. BJ Young (3-3)
Eric Fimbres (Debut) vs. Gordon Wigington (Debut)
Cameron Allgeier (3-0) vs. Christian Bobe (4-1)
Amateur Catchweight (140 lbs.)
Brittany Bickhart (0-0) vs. Samantha Brister (1-1)
Women's Amateur Bantamweight
Gabriel Cabello (1-0) vs. Mark Grey (0-0)