Morrison, Benson both looking for successful comebacks at CageSport 64
August 6, 2022
YAKIMA, Wash. – In what has to be considered the most intriguing undercard bout heading into CageSport 64 veterans Lee Morrison and Patrick Benson will face off in what will be a comeback fight for both athletes.
Morrison, who holds career wins over a trio of former CageSport titleholders, will step inside the cage for the first time in nearly 4 1/2 years, while his opponent is coming off a 3 1/2-year hiatus.
As expected, the COVID pandemic helped contribute to each fighter’s lengthy layoffs, but so did injuries as Morrison was sidelined with a major neck injury and Benson dealt with a fracture to his lower back.
Now healthy and back to form each are eyeing a victory upon their returns.
“We were very excited when this fight came together,” said George Dodd, owner of Northwest Fight Promotions, the organization which produces CageSport events. “Both Lee and Patrick have long histories fighting for CageSport and we have always been thrilled whenever they have been booked on one of our shows because of the talent and professionalism they bring into every fight. This one definitely has the chance to steal the show.”
Presented by Legends Casino Hotel, CageSport 64 will take place at the Yakima Valley SunDome on Saturday, Aug. 27. In addition to the Morrison/Benson bout, the event will also feature a main event between Jorge Alcala and Jose Hernandez and a co-main event between Charon Spain and John Simon.
Tickets for the all-ages show are available through the TicketsWest or the Yakima Valley SunDome (855) 305-4862. Preliminary bouts start at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m.
Few fighters have had more success against CageSport mainstays than Morrison as the “American Bulldog” has defeated former CageSport champions Daniel Swain, Drew Brokenshire and Julian Erosa. It was his win at CageSport 25 in 2013 over current UFC fighter Erosa that catapulted Morrison into the international stage.
He followed up his triumph over Erosa by making his M-1 Challenge debut in Russia with a victory over Mikhail Malyutin. He fought six more times for the M-1 promotion over the next three years, highlighted by a world featherweight title fight against Marat Gafurov.
Morrison put together a four-fight winning streak, including a win over Zach Conn at CageSport 47, in 2017, leading to a bout against Aaron Pico at Bellator 199.
“I took that fight on one month’s notice, but I felt that was going to be my big break,” Morrison said. “I was originally supposed to fight Chase Hooper when Bellator called. I thought, ‘Wow, that’s crazy to only have a month (to train),’ but I felt this was the fight I had been waiting for.”
Unfortunately for Morrison, during the late stages of training for his Bellator debut he felt an intense pain in his neck, a sensation that only got worse as the days passed.
“It was the worst pain I have ever felt in my life,” Morrison recalled. “I had pain in my neck, my shoulder. I couldn’t sleep.”
An MRI revealed the reason for the discomfort – Morrison had suffered two herniated discs in his C5 and C7. Surgery was unavoidable, however, the question was when would it take place, after his appearance on Bellator 199 or before?
“I needed to make the decision to either pull out or suck it up,” Morrison said. “I have that fighter’s mindset so I fought. When I went back to training even hitting the mitts was painful for me. I fought, but obviously my head wasn’t in it.
Following his loss to Pico, Morrison underwent double cervical fusion, a procedure that forced him into recovery for nearly a year.
“I just didn’t want to go out that way,” said Morrison, who has won 19 career fights and works as a high school counselor at Omak High School. “So, I started training again, and then COVID hit. I just figured I couldn’t catch a break.”
In addition to training for a comeback, Morrison was also busy earning his Masters’ Degree while taking care of his two young children with his wife.
“I have been training with a different perspective now. I know I only have a few more years left of competing,” Morrison said. “(This fight) felt like the right time (to comeback). My wife was onboard and since June I have been doing doubles every single day. I am big time looking forward to it. I feel amazing. The goal is to get the win (at CageSport 64) and hopefully follow it up back at Bellator.”
Standing in Morrison’s way at CageSport 64 will be Benson, who had a similar journey on his way back to the cage.
After a decorated amateur career, Benson burst onto the scene making his pro debut at CageSport 38 in 2015 with a victory over Kody Kramer. A second win followed against Jason Gray at CageSport 39, establishing Benson as a fan favorite within the promotion, before he fought Brett Malone at the World Series of Fighting 32.
Benson found international success with a pair of victories in India on Super Fight League cards in 2017. A trio of CageSport losses followed, the last coming against Quinten Wyland at CageSport 57, leading to Benson briefly stepping away from the sport.
“Things just weren’t going my way. So I took a short break and was trying to heal up,” Benson said. “During that time I ended up having back surgery because I had herniated discs in my L4 and L5 from a fracture I had. It was the worst thing I have ever gone through.”
With fighting now on the back burner, Benson’s main focus was simply healing up.
“At first making a comeback wasn’t even something I was thinking about,” Benson said. “It took me a year of being in the gym where I finally felt like I was moving like I used to. It was a long road back.”
Once back, however, Benson’s fighter state of mind resurfaced.
“There was definitely a learning curve. I learned to strike and grapple again. I had never felt heavy or slow before so there was a process getting back to where I was,” Benson said. “I originally thought I was just here to train and then I started sparring again and I was getting the better of everyone. That switch started to turn back on. I kind of thought I was done, but as soon as I got back into shape I wanted to get back in there.”
However, this time around Benson will enter the cage with a different thought process.
“I always felt pressure whenever I fought before that I had to go in there and put on a show,” Benson said. “I fought like I had to prove stuff to other people. Now I go out there and just want to prove things to myself. There’s less pressure. That confidence comes from knowing whatever happens in there I’ll be fine. I’ll come home and have the support of the people who love me. I’m going to go out there and have some fun. I enjoy it more.”
CageSport 64 is brought to you by Northwest Fight Promotions and CageSport MMA. For more information, please visit the CageSport MMA and Northwest Fight Promotions Facebook pages and northwestfightpromotions.com.
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