Just a few weeks out from his scheduled headlining bout at 247 Fighting Championships “Brawl in the Burgh 7,” Ethan Hayes didn’t have an opponent. Multiple opponents had fallen through, but that didn’t deter his preparation.
“I just stay training hard,” Hayes told MyMMANews. “I train all year – most of the time two to three times a day. The main difference [for this camp] is traveling to Pittsburgh twice a week for different looks and the diet. Sometimes I’d get burnt out and wonder why I’m spending so much time away from friends and home without a confirmed opponent, but I just assumed it’d pay off. Even if I didn’t get a fight I was gonna stay ready for other promotions down south.”
Eventually the promotion did lock in an opponent, and Hayes will put his unbeaten 3-0 record on the line against John Ramirez (4-5) in the night’s main event.
Ramirez has lost four in a row after starting out 4-1 with four stoppage finishes, but the losses have mostly been a product of his willingness to take fights on short notice and at any weight class. He’s competed in divisions from featherweight to welterweight, and all four of his wins have come at 155 pounds. This bout will be at a catchweight of 150 pounds.
“It is my toughest fight I’ve had yet,” Hayes said. “He’s fought tough competition. He fought for a 170 title his last fight against a very solid dude. Clearly he feels confident in his skills to take those risks. He’s strong, explosive, athletic, and has great skills. I’m also glad he finishes his fights. I’m not looking for someone to hug me the whole time. Kill or be killed.”
Hayes made his amateur debut in 2015 and posted a 7-2 record before jumping to the pro ranks in 2019. Since then, the lanky 6’3″ featherweight has finished all three of his fights via submission in the first round, including a standing guillotine over Ethan Goss at Brawl in the Burgh 5 in November.
The undefeated record looks good but to Hayes the most important thing is competing.
“It does somewhat, nobody wants to lose in front of their people,” Hayes said of defending his unblemished record. “I’m not scared to lose at all. I feel like all my opponents so far could have beaten me. I just beat them to the kill, that’s what I’m going for the whole fight.”
“I feel like I’m better on Tapology than I am real life,” Hayes said. “I get killed every day training, many times.”
Speaking of training, Hayes trains with some of the best the Western Pennsylvania has to offer. His coach and teammate Nick Browne is one of the most underrated fighters in the sport, and he just signed a multi-fight deal with Bellator after winning the LFA title earlier this year. Another teammate, Josh Fremd, competes for the middleweight title in the main event at LFA 108 on Friday night.
Ethan Hayes knows that training with such a great group of teammates will eventually put him in the spotlight, if he keeps winning.
“Yeah I think about it,” Hayes said of getting a shot at a national organization. “Nick put a lot of work in to be there, fighting anyone and everyone in front of him and a lot of them he was the underdog on paper unless you know him. I have a lot to do until I feel like I am there to compete with those kind of fighters like Nick, [UFC lightweight] Khama [Worthy] , [Bellator featherweight] John [De Jesus], Josh, etc., but we will see soon enough. I wanna go to the big league battle tested.”
Like many Pittsburgh area fighters, the West Virginia native Hayes cross-trains at multiple gyms around the city. It’s a policy that has helped the area’s best fighters grow and turn the Steel City into a hotbed for MMA.
“I think the area is great for training,” Hayes said. “Now I have all The Academy, The Mat Factory, and Stout Training Center’s guys to spar/drill/train with and I’m cool with all the guys and their coaches. We tell one another what we need to work on and the coaches help everyone. I don’t have to worry about fighting these guys, I consider them my team. When they fight we all fight and we all are watching. No more in Pittsburgh gym rivalries. It’s us vs. everyone, from MMA to grappling. Sure a couple amateurs might fight or compete against one another in a grappling tournament but as far as me fighting any of my boys. Not happening.”
247 Fighting Championships will host two separate events on Saturday, May 22nd at the Monroeville Convention Center in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, with both events streaming live on 247Fighting.com.
David McKinney has covered MMA since he was in high school in 2008. A former co-owner of BluegrassMMA, he currently hosts the Beers and Beards and Brewery Adventures podcasts. He covers regional MMA in the Midwest with a focus on Ohio.