Combat Night reaches 100th card milestone

Mitch Chamale joined Ralph Valdez in the octagon at The Moon to celebrate a recent MMA victory.
Photo by St. Clair Murraine

By St. Clair Murraine

Outlook staff writer

When Mitch Chamale and Josh Samman sat down to draw up the first draft of their dream of creating a mixed martial arts promotion company, they didn’t have much to work with.

Most of their first card was written on a napkin under the banner of Combat Night. Chamale and Samman set out to change the perception of MMA, taking it from backrooms and underground venues in Florida.

 Seven years later Combat Night will present its 100th card. It takes place in Tallahassee, the birth place of the company, on Jan. 26 at The Moon.

Combat Night had to overcome some adversities along the way, including the unexpected death of Samman who was found in his apartment in 2016.

Chamale weathered the storm, insisting on maintaining the standard that they’d set from day one.

“A lot of these events push the narrative of a caged fight, whereas we push the narrative of a professional mixed martial event,” Chamale said. “We look at it as a sport and not a cage fight. When you hear cage fight you think of animals.”

Most of their shows have taken place at The Moon. They’ve even taken Combat Night to the Civic Center for a few of their cards, the first time drawing 5,000 spectators.

On the way to 100, Combat Night fights have taken place around the state, including Jacksonville, Orlando and South Florida. Recently the First Combat Night show took place in South Georgia.

No matter the venue, though, it had to be top-notched, Chamale said. Fans have taken notice and most times the shows sell out.

“From the fans perspective, they don’t see it as a fight,” Chamale said. “They see it as something to get dressed up for and have a drink. We put dress to impress on our tickets. It’s a regional MMA event, but that doesn’t mean our fans doesn’t deserve a nice event.”

Next weekend’s show will feature several fighters who were there in the beginning. Namely Ralph Valdez and Bill Carpenter, a former roommate of Samman.

It was Samman who encouraged Valdez, a former Godby High School wrestler to try MMA when the company started in 2012. Valdez decided to have his first amateur fight when he heard that a bout was being dropped from the original card.

“Working with Combat Night as an amateur, I got to see talent from all over,” said Valdez who has since turned pro. “I saw all-level, all stages and all forms. That’s what prepared me better than anything else for my professional career.

“I fought on number one and I’m fighting on number 100. I’m excited for them. It’s definitely good for the sport and the city of Tallahassee.”

Valdez, who has a 2-1 professional record, was 6-5 as an amateur. Carpenter, 5-4 as an amateur, will be turning pro on the card.

“I’m extremely excited,” Carpenter said. “I feel that it’s my time to come back and show out in Tallahassee.”