John Kolosci took a leap of faith when he quit his job to train and fight full-time a year ago.
Kolosci, a Portage-based mixed martial artist, had a small taste of the big-time when he was a contestant on Season 6 of the UFC's "The Ultimate Fighter" reality show, and had one fight with the world's largest MMA promotion on live TV before a few injury-related setbacks almost certainly had him wondering if making it back to a top-shelf promotion would be in the cards.
But after going 4-0 on smaller Indiana cards since starting his 2009 comeback, Kolosci reached his first goal when he signed to fight on the most anticipated card in Strikeforce history.
Though the promotion has not yet officially announced the fight, as The Times first reported earlier this month, Kolosci will take on Indianapolis-based Shamar Bailey on the preliminary card on the Nov. 7 "Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Rogers" card at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates.
Kolosci said the news was a pleasant surprise on his timetable.
"I've been waiting for a break, or some type of big-time fight to come my way, so I could approach the bigger promotions after a win," Kolosci said. "With Strikeforce coming (for a Chicago fight) and looking for local talent, I skipped a step and put myself right in the mix. I'm ecstatic."
The fight with Bailey is one that was originally scheduled for this past August in Anderson. But a rib injury kept Kolosci out of the fight and Bailey took a bout with the M-1 Challenge Series in the Netherlands.
Still, Kolosci, a welterweight, said he's already done some prep work on Bailey, who trains with Integrated Fighting Systems and UFC veterans Chris Lytle and Jake O'Brien in Indianapolis. Kolosci splits his training time between L.A. Boxing in Merrillville and Gilbert Grappling in Tinley Park.
"He is a strong, explosive wrestler with great ground-and-pound," Kolosci said. "Strategies always go out the window once you get punched real hard, so I don't make strategies. I do know I have to work my takedown defense really hard and keep punches in his face."
The event is highly anticipated by MMA fans for two reasons. It's the Strikeforce debut of world-renowned heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko, thought by many to be the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world. And it's the promotion's debut on CBS -- the main card will be shown live in prime time.
"Just being on this card is amazing in and of itself -- it's a very stacked main card," Kolosci said. "I feel privileged just to be on such an amazing card. As for Fedor, the guy doesn't seem human. He is amazing. I've seen him in some bad predicaments, and he finds a way out and a way to win. The guy is No. 1 until someone beats him."
And while Kolosci's fight is on the preliminary card and not likely to be shown on the CBS broadcast, a couple quick fights on the live event could have producers scrambling to show prelim fights on the telecast -- and Kolosci can always hold out a glimmer of hope.
"If I finish it in the first, I may ask them politely during my post-fight interview (to show the fight on the telecast)," Kolosci joked. "The exposure would be awesome and hopefully show people how far I've come over the past couple years since 'The Ultimate Fighter.' But, my goal is just to win the fight and get a longer contract. I have to make that happen. Anything else is just icing on the cake."
For Kolosci lately, there has been plenty of icing. He's diving into the fight promotion arena, launching Hoosier Fight Club with a show on Nov. 20 at the Porter County Expo Center. And that same night, he'll marry Cathy Landeros, his fiancee, inside the cage during intermission. But he won't get too sappy over the impending nuptials.
"If this Strikeforce fight is a war, I could be getting married with black eyes," Kolosci said. "That would be really cool."