Saying Massachusetts has a rich fighting history doesn’t quite cover it.
Perennial lightweight contender and bonus check magnet Joe Lauzon calls East Bridgewater home, Gabriel Gonzaga has established Team Link in Ludlow and retired former title challenger Kenny Florian represents Brookline, while Mark DellaGrotte and Team Sityodtong are based in Somerville.
Yet as the UFC readies to return to Boston for a third time with a fight card boasting a collection of talent tied to the region, there is one fighter that is especially excited about the opportunity to step into the Octagon Sunday night inside the TD Garden — welterweight kickboxer John Howard.
“You have Massachusetts fighters — we call ’em ‘Mass fighters’ — where they’re from Massachusetts, but they’re not from Boston. They live on the outskirts. They don’t live in Boston,” the compact 31-year-old states, offering up a prelude to his point. “I’m the only Massachusetts fighter who actually lives in Boston. Born in Boston, raised in Boston and still lives in Boston.”
“I live in Dorchester, which is literally a 10-minute drive from the TD Garden,” Howard, who is 6-5 over his two stints in the UFC and 22-10 overall for his career, continues. “I was born and raised inside of Boston. I have a Boston zip code. I’m a Bostonian to the core; I’m not from the outskirts.”
Thumbnail photo via Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA TODAY Sports Images