Todd 'The Hulk' Chattelle wins the fight and the girl

Todd 'The Hulk' Chattelle wins the fight and the girl

PAWTUCKET - When Todd "The Hulk" Chattelle stepped into the cage at Twin River Event Center on Oct. 4, he had a lot more on his mind than just beating fellow middleweight John Troyer of Kentucky.

Chattelle told The Breeze he would have proposed to his long-time girlfriend, Elizabeth Bento, whether he won or lost the main Classic Entertainment & Sports Mixed Martial Arts event, even if he had to be carried over to her to do it, but the fact that he beat Troyer with a flying-knee TKO made it that much sweeter.

As Bento remembers it, Chattelle's brother, Jay Chattelle, leaned over and told her he was tired of standing outside of the fence after his brother's victories. Though she was wearing heels, and nervous about getting into trouble for going in the ring, "You don't say no to Jay, Jay's crazy," said Bento, who is also known as the "SheHulk."

Bento, who has been with Chattelle for seven years, was shocked when her sweaty and exhausted boyfriend got down on one knee with the microphone.

"I love you for all time. You keep me strong and focused. When times are down, you pick me up, and I love you," he said, as the crowd roared its approval. "Will you marry me?"

There was no audible "yes" on TV, but the embrace that the two then shared left little doubt for everyone, including the exuberant announcers, that Chattelle's move had done the trick. Bento, who said she wasn't expecting a ring at all, didn't mind the sweat at all.

"He's been way sweatier," she said, smiling.

There is no date yet for the wedding.

Watch videos of Chattelle's big fight and his proposal with this story at .

At 34, Chattelle sees himself as a "seasoned veteran" of an MMA sport that has taken off in popularity in recent years.

"I've been doing this from before it was cool," he said.

The number two fighter in New England says that, like his matches in the ring, life hasn't always been easy. A lifelong Pawtucket and Central Falls resident who was raised by a single mother, he was the middle one of five boys. Chattelle said he didn't always make the best decisions, but he finally feels like he's in a great place in life, with 21 pro fights under his belt, a fianc?© he loves, two children he adores - Kalyn and Todd Jr. - and a house church family in North Providence that he can't get enough of.

It's his growing faith that finally led him to propose to his girlfriend, said Chattelle, as he realized that being a Christian in every area of his life and fulfilling "God's purpose" means "leading by example."

The first MMA champion from Rhode Island was also the first champion from North Providence-based Classic Entertainment & Sports. The three-time Bellator champion started boxing at 16 years old and got into MMA at 22.

In MMA, it's not about having an unblemished record, but about winning when it counts, said Chattelle. At 12-9, with nine TKOs, he is the number-two fighter in New England.

Chattelle said he thinks many people have a fundamental misunderstanding of MMA as somehow being barbaric. But MMA, a full-contact sport that allows striking and grappling, is way more of a gentleman's sport than boxing has ever been, he said, with fighters embracing and congratulating each other even after the most intense fights. Chattelle said he takes some satisfaction in becoming a sort of local icon in a sport that continues to grow by leaps and bounds. MMA takes plenty of creativity and allows each fighter to find his strengths, he said. Though his strength is as a stand-up striker, he "can take the fight anywhere."

Chattelle, who trains out of Tri-Force MMA in Pawtucket and has worked for many years with Bert and Manny Neves, has no plans to retire soon. His trademark yell will be part of the MMA scene for a long time to come, he said.