The event features a total of 16 amateur bouts, with two title bouts headlining. Four veteran fighters with their eyes on gold will compete to take home the championships.
In the Elite Amateur Fight League main event, Valanti Atsas (7-3) and Aleksander Keca (5-3) will square off for the welterweight title, while Antonio Noel (5-3-1) and Justin Lovrich (6-1) throw down for the lightweight title.
Atsas, who trains out of Maxim Gym in Indiana, will be in action for the first time since a decision loss at the last EAFL event.
“I was scheduled to fight eight days before the lockdown last year,” Atsas told MyMMANews. “With COVID that really put my plans for staying active on hold. I feel great that it’s finally time to fight I’ve been grinding through all of this and I can’t wait to reap the benefits of all the hard work I’ve put in.”
Atsas has five stoppage wins, including four via submission. He’s ranked as the No. 4 amateur welterweight in Indiana according to Tapology.
“It’s great to know I’m fighting people ranked in top in the area,” Atsas said. “I’m excited and confident and can’t wait to display my talents.”
Atsas takes on Team Top Notch’s Keca, who looks for his second win this year after topping the previously unbeaten Chandler Chapman at Art of Scrap in February.
“I feel really good about the match up,” Keca said. “Not quite sure what his plan is but I want to put on a show and end the fight decisively.”
Keca is ranked just ahead of Atsas as the No. 3 amateur welterweight in Indiana. This may be his final fight as an amateur as well.
“I am looking to go pro after this fight but it all depends on my performance,” Keca said. “Once I finish my opponent, I’ll have the answer to that question. I think it’s time to go pro but I want to asses how the fight goes because I feel like I haven’t shown my best and want to hit the ground running when I go pro.”
In the co-main event, Midwest Training Center’s Lovrich will face off against Team Colon’s Noel.
Lovrich competes for the first time since 2019, when he had his only loss against Devon Jeffries at HFC 40.
“Life before COVID was hectic since I traveled weekly for work and was happy to have life slow down,” Lovrich said of his last year and a half. “This helped me focus on the small details I needed to become a better competitor. My loss was extremely controversial and made me learn the hard way why everyone says, ‘don’t let it go to the judges.’ This fight is an opportunity for me to regain my belt and win back what was wrongly taken from me in 2019.”
Both fighters are highly ranked in their respective states, with Lovrich holding the No. 1 amateur lightweight spot in Illinois while Noel is ranked as the No. 4 amateur lightweight in Indiana.
“I’m excited for this matchup,” Lovrich said. “I knew I would be fighting my opponent at some point and when presented with a couple options, chose him specifically. We are two well rounded athletes that take the sport seriously which will be electrifying to watch for nine minutes.”
Steel City Showdown streams live on Facebook on Saturday beginning at 6:30 p.m. EDT.
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.