By ADAM SHINDER
Recorder Sports Staff
Heading into the sixth professional fight of his mixed martial arts career, Amsterdam's Tommy Marcellino feels that he's finally hitting the big time -- and that means going up against the biggest test he's faced so far.
A little more than nine months after his last fight -- which stands as his only loss in five career bouts -- Marcellino will return to the cage tonight to face Brenson Hansen in a 150-pound match at the Revel Resorts in Atlantic City, N.J. as part of the World Series of Fighting's second-ever event.
It's a major opportunity for Marcellino, who said in a phone interview Wednesday that the burgeoning WSOF -- with several big-name fighters on its roster and a TV deal with the NBC Sports Network in place -- is ready to take its place alongside the Ultimate Fighting Championship as MMA's biggest stage, like the defunct PRIDE and Strikeforce promotions once did.
"When I was young, learning how to fight, at the time it was UFC and PRIDE, then it was UFC and Strikeforce," Marcellino said. "Now, I feel like its UFC and the World Series of Fighting. I couldn't think of anywhere else that would be better to be."
In Hansen, Marcellino has an opponent who enters with a 3-1 record, last defeating Brandon Moreno via decision at a July 2012 event in Lancaster, Calif. Hansen, a native of Hawaii, fights out of Las Vegas, where he trains at the Xtreme Couture gym founded by MMA legend Randy "The Natural" Couture.
"He's probably my hardest fight to date," Marcellino said. "He's a full-time fighter, and a tough kid."
In his four professional fights, Hansen has shown a proclivity to go the distance, with all three of his victories coming by decision. Marcellino has won two of his fights by decision and two by submission -- including the biggest win of his career when he submitted Dustin Caplinger via rear naked choke to win the XFE lightweight (155-pound) championship in July 2011.
Marcellino said he'll be happy to secure the biggest victory of his career by any method available to him -- knockout, submission or judge's decision.
"I'm just going in there to win," he said. "I want to win every situation, every round. If he makes a mistake, I'm gonna submit him or I'm gonna knock him out. If he doesn't, I'm just gonna go to win the rounds."
The Amsterdam native arrived in Atlantic City for pre-fight interviews Thursday, then took part in weigh-ins Friday. In getting ready to fight at 150 pounds -- the lowest weight he's ever competed at -- Marcellino said he's had an excellent training camp.
"I'm just training hard," he said. "Spent a lot of time with my team working on stuff, and it's going well. It was a really good training camp."
Marcellino will fight Hansen on the preliminary card, which begins at 7:30 p.m. and can be viewed via webcast at www.wsof.com. The main card begins at 9:30 p.m. and will be aired live on the NBC Sports Network. The main event will pit former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski against one-time UFC contender Anthony Johnson.
"I'm honored that I'm on the card. It's a packed card with guys that I watched on TV when I was a kid," Marcellino said. "Guys when I first got into the sport that I admired or that I sat at home and watched with my friends. There's a lot of guys [on the card] that people call their favorite fighters."