At Fight For It XVIII, Josh Cook will move up from Bantamweight (135 pounds) to challenge Patrick Schafer in the Featherweight division. The jump up to 145 pounds could be risky for the younger Cook, who will celebrate his 22nd birthday two days after this fight. In addition to a probable size advantage, Schafer also takes the edge in experience due to his career length and the quality of opponents. And we can’t forget that he is fighting for the hometown favorites at Hayastan MMA.
Cook might well be up to the test. Training with well-respected coaches, including the jiu-jitsu black belt Derrick Kennington from Next Element Academy in South Carolina, Cook is on a three-fight win streak, with two of those wins coming by way of submission. Schafer has won just one of his last three bouts, with both defeats coming by way of submission. Will the smaller Cook be able to capitalize on his grappling prowess?
Whether Cook can grapple his way to victory depends on how much Schafer’s experience has shaped his game plan for this bout. Accounting for both combatants’ collective records, Schafer has faced stronger opposition. His opponents hold a 60 percent winning ratio, while Cook’s opponents hold a 45 percent win ratio. Schafer also has seen 11 rounds out of seven fights and has gone the distance once in a losing effort. All of his wins are by submission, too. Cook has shown more diversity in his winning ability, and his lone defeat was by way of decision.
Despite the past endeavors of either man, this fight is closer than it looks. Both men were active in 2023, with Cook facing stronger opposition during that time frame. Cook also produced better results. Look for Cook to upset Schaffer despite the hometown advantage.
Fight For It XVIII kicks off 2024 with a powerful card of kickboxing and MMA action at Charlotte’s Grady Cole Center on Saturday, Jan. 27. Catch every moment live or streaming via pay-per-view. Kickboxing prelims start at 3 p.m., and the MMA card ignites at 7 p.m. Tickets for the live event and pay-per-view stream are available now via fightforitcompany.com.
And be sure to download the Fight For It app on on The App Store or Google Play to pick your fantasy winners at Fight For It XIV. The pool is free to play and will award the top three scorers with their share of a $500 cash prize.