Wednesday evening will see Alaska Fighting Championship 132 headlined by AFC Heavyweight Champion Mike ‘The Monster’ Faavale defending against storied veteran Tony ‘Kryptonite’ Lopez. Also on the card, and directly before the co-main event of the evening, Dominick ‘Mocha Bear’ Meriweather will face a man he once trained with at the now-defunct Martial Art Alaska (MAA) gym: Michael Williams. It is a fight that has personal ramifications for the 25 year old – something that only adds to a drive and determination that none of his opponents have been able to match to date.
At 4-0, Meriweather is carving out a nice niche in the lightweight division, and victory over Williams will move him one step closer to a possible shot at reigning AFC Lightweight Champion, Vince Fricilone, a man Dom has a great deal of admiration for: “I do like our new one hundred and fifty five pound champion, he’s a tough dude and relentless with his wrestling; I have a lot of respect for Vince,” Dom told MMA Vanguard, but added that he’s in no rush: “You know, people always ask about who I want to fight, [and] I’ve made it simple: I don’t accept fights, my coaches do that for me. If they think I should fight someone I’ll do it, [but] I’m not title hunting – I’ll wait until the shot is given to me.”
That level of patience doesn’t necessarily extend to Williams, although Dom isn’t on an all-out drive to talk smack about his opponent – even if he might have been on the receiving end of some of that treatment himself. He explains: “Micheal Williams and I used to train at the same gym, [then later] I joined Anchorage Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (ABJJ) after the closure of MAA. He joined [us at] ABJJ [as well], but didn’t stay long at all. [During that time] Micheal always seemed to have a thing for talking about me but never admitting it.” Fuel to the fire, perhaps, that burns in Meriweather. But Dom isn’t into making brash, bold predictions. “I dont know what to expect from him in this fight, but my coaches and teammates have prepared me for anything. If I lose, [then] I didn’t capitalize on what I was taught,” he says somewhat modestly.
With four successive finishes from his first four pro fights under the Alaska Fighting Championship banner, however, fans of the promotion could be forgiven for anticipating yet another statement from ‘Mocha Bear’. With C-Jay Harris, Josh Hubble and Jonathan Gilbert all dispatched in the opening frame of each of their respective bouts, only Joshua Gale has been able to take Dom into deep waters – only to fall to a third round TKO back in November last year. Now, the same fate could await 23 year old Wasilla-native Williams.
Getting to this point has not been straight forward for Meriweather. Speaking openly about his past to MMA Vanguard, Meriweather credits his father for his initial interest in combat sports: “My father got me into MMA after him telling me about him boxing and wrestling in his earlier life, he was a big athlete throughout his life and wrestled since he was a kid, so he got us all into martial arts at a very young age. I started wrestling with him when I was around 5 years old” Dom says, adding: “He was an Army Ranger, and said he [competed in] Golden Gloves [boxing] in Indiana, [but] I don’t know too much about his past.”
What Dom does know, however, are his experiences of family life, both positive and negative – and to Dom’s enormous credit, he spoke openly with us about them as key factors in his personal motivation and drive: “I know that my dad was a drug addict and [an] alcoholic [who] beat my family, which in turn drove me to be the best I could to make him happy.” Dom says, adding: “My dad and I were still very close and his death in 2009 definitely pushed me to work even harder, as did my daughter being born in 2016.”
“My mom and I weren’t very close growing up. I was in State’s custody and had resentment towards her as I thought she gave up [me and my siblings] until I grew older and realized what happened. After my pops passed, though, my mother and I have become VERY close. I fight EVERY May so the troops of our country can sit back and enjoy a show and also because it’s the month of my mom’s birthday. She’s lives in a different state, so getting my hand raised or even just getting in there puts a BIG smile on her face and I love that!”
“I’m not ashamed of any of that,” Dom says with “It’s my past and present and my motivation.”
Fittingly, then, Alaska Fighting Championship 132 is being promoted as part of their annual military appreciation campaign. As ‘Mocha Bear’ says, fight fans can expect him to compete on similar cards each and every year, a fitting tribute to both his late father and the armed forces in the United States.
Interestingly, another particular source of inspiration to Meriweather is UFC veteran Matt Hamill. He explains: “He is definitely my idol. I grew up around hearing-impaired people as I was adopted, and Matt Hamill being a deaf professional fighter definitely spoke to me. It’s not only that aspect, but just how humble and respectful he was as well.”
Being humble and respectful appear to be important traits to Meriweather – not that that will help Michael Williams come Wednesday. As Dom looks to continue to improve and build on his impressive 4-0 start in professional MMA, he reflects on his performances: “Over my past four fights my style has changed a bit. I rushed my first fight, [but] in my recent three fights I’m getting more and more patient and comfortable.” Fighters with different styles don’t concern Meriweather either: “I think [that’s one of] the cool things about fighting – it’s the variety of styles that you encounter as you face different people,” he explains. A known quantity like Williams, then, will not phase a man determined to compete and represent so many causes.
To catch the fight, fans with UFC Fight Pass can tune in to all the action at AFC 132 from 7 pm Alaskan Time on Wednesday. One thing they can be assured of is an inspired performance from one of Alaska’s most promising prospects – Dominick ‘Mocha Bear’ Meriweather.