KINGSTON, NY — It’s easy to see why Kingston MMA heavyweight Josh DePace is nicknamed “The Smiling Assassin.”
A father of four boys, DePace speaks calmly and doesn’t make outlandish statements about what he plans to do against his next opponent, Chris Taylor. He said he earned his nickname after a bloody three-round loss to Jesse Pastore in March, where he earned cheers from the crowd despite losing a decision.
It’s a deal for DePace, 28, a former boxer who has arguably the most important fight of his career on Mike Tyson’s Fight Night undercard on Saturday, July 23 at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany.
“I want to win and then go home,” DePace said with a smile. “I don’t care how I win. Just that I win.
DePace’s big fight is scheduled for a trio of three-minute rounds in a cage. Although DePace is 2-4, he looked impressive winning his last fight with a knockout. In fact, both of his wins came by knockout in an amateur career that began 11 months ago.
A graduate of Rondout Valley High in 2012, the 6-foot-1, 268-pound DePace said he turned to MMA (mixed martial arts) after all the boxing gyms he attended were closed. trained locally during the pandemic. At the request of two MMA fighters he knew, DePace decided to try his hand at mixed martial arts. He said he had always been a competent boxer, so he liked the idea of trying his hand at MMA.
“I always felt pretty confident in my punching ability because I’ve been boxing since I was 13,” said DePace, who fought at around 185 pounds. “Now I’ve worked a lot on wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu to be more complete. Anything I can do to get better. Of course, I’d rather win by knockout than have to worry about a decision.
Although he started out as a boxer and still loves the sport, DePace said MMA eclipsed his first sport in popularity.
“You don’t see as much TV boxing anymore,” he said. “There is the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) every Saturday. And I don’t think today’s boxers are as good as the boxers of past generations like Mike Tyson and others.
“And I think there’s more excitement in MMA,” DePace added. “The possibility of mixing everything. It creates a lot more excitement. They see a fighter on the ground and see him going into some sort of submission. Or a big strike or a leg sweep. There are unlimited options to win.
DePace has a full-time job as a store manager for Dollar General in Port Ewen. When he’s not working or caring for his sons, DePace is working out. He gets up at 5 a.m. and starts the day by working out at Planet Fitness for an hour or two. Then, after a dinner break with his sons, Elliott, Montgomery, Atticus and Wyatt, he will find time to train for another hour or two in the evening.
DePace said his immediate goal is to win his next fight. But he also has a long-term goal of succeeding in the big time.
“At the end of the day, I would like to be in the UFC,” he said of the institution that organizes MMA fights for huge salaries. “That’s where all the big stars are these days and make a lot of money. I would love to do that.
UFC is a Las Vegas-based mixed martial arts promotion company.
Flyweight Devin Olen, one of DePace’s sparring partners who was training with his friend at 99/1 Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at 34 Massa Drive, Kingston on Thursday, said he thought DePace had a bright future in sport.
“I think he can make it to the UFC,” Olen said. “He moves like a little guy. Many heavy trucks are big and move like they’re stuck in mud. He has a lot of talent and can hit hard.
There are two days of action in the event sponsored by Cage Wars and Sticker Mules. There’s a pro boxing night on July 22, followed by professional and amateur MMA bouts that will feature DePace and others on July 23.
Those unable to attend the game in person can watch it live on Stimulus. Tickets are available at cagewarsmma.com. Ticket prices range from $54 for general admission to $216 for first row upstairs.