Reinforce the ring!"
This was my original thought when promoter Dale "Apollo" Cook advised he was bringing the "Road to Glory" light heavyweight tournament to The Joint back in February.
Imagine a steady diet of 209-pound behemoths pounding the canvas in a given night. The ring held firm in the face of adversity.
Fast forward to Friday, June 14 and think bigger, stronger, and more powerful. The light heavyweight tournament was such a success that Cook teamed up with Glory, the premier standup fighting league in the world, for the heavyweight tournament edition.
Xtreme Fight Night 13 might be the best rendition to date, and it will certainly be the biggest.
A total of $50,000 in prize money will be on the line for the big boys. The total weight for these gladiators will be close to two thousand pounds. Reinforce the ring!
The eight-man, one-night format reminds of the original Ultimate Fighting Championship run in the mid-90s. The early UFC days pitted style versus style. It tested the combatants' durability and conditioning.
The styles will be similar this time around. We will see a mix of Muay Thai, kickboxing, and karate; but all standup specialists at their athletic peak.
And this is not a fight card stacked with local bums being billed as a national tournament. These participants come from Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, and all parts in-between.
If the heavyweight tournament is even half as engaging as the light heavyweight tournament was, it will be a spectacular success.
Absence makes the heart pound for action. That may not be the exact cliché, but it is more accurate. After all, "fond" is not a word associated with the fight game.
For instance, Chris "Prittyboy" Barnes and James "Whitey" Warren are not fond of each other.
Between rounds of the one-night tournament there will be mixed martial arts bouts.
Barnes versus Warren is being billed as the MMA main event.
Barnes' record is not impressive. That may be an understatement. However, he is a staple of the Oklahoma fight scene. He is even branching off into a managerial role for up-and-coming fighters.
He always comes to fight. It may not always go his way, but no one has ever accused him of playing it safe or ducking a challenge. The 145-pound fighter has taken short-notice 170-pound bouts. He is a gamer.
And he will need all of his training, experience, and testicular fortitude if he plans to escape with a victory against Warren.
Warren looks like a fighter. His signature Mohawk only tells part of the story. He is a well-rounded, tough-nosed warrior looking to put on a show while fighting for the win. He'll get paid, but that does not seem to be the most important thing to him.
His motor is second to none. His hairdo is likely to fade quicker than his gas tank. Warren is a natural striker, but his ground game has evolved.
There was a time when women's MMA bouts were considered a sideshow. But thanks to Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, and others, this is not the case in 2013.
Several outstanding female fighters have graced The Joint in the past. Often, the female fights steal the show.
The stakes are high when Erin McDougall battles Krystal McGuire. The lack of depth in the realm of women's MMA means chances for fighters (fightresses?) come a lot quicker at the highest levels.
A win by either lady just might launch a career. If they are to be judged by previous female fights in The Joint, they have some big sports bras, err, shoes to fill.
"The Legacy" Jarrett Rouse makes his pro MMA debut as well. Fight fans know the name. His kickboxing bouts are usually the most anticipated fights on the card. He trades in the big gloves for the four ounce variety this time around.
This marks the thirteenth time Xtreme Fight Night has invaded The Joint. For those who have been there every step of the way, the venue might be taken for granted.
The theater seating works for the viewers, and the big screens mean you will never miss the action.
Having a ring instead of a cage means the sightlines are slightly better, although both work well.
Here are a few tips if this is your first time to catch XFN in The Joint.
Preliminary fights start soon after the doors open at 7pm. There is a brief lull after these prelim fights and before the national anthem is played. This is an ideal time to refill your adult beverage.
The main card at 8pm will mostly consist of standup fighting. However, when the mixed martial arts fights hit the canvas, it is a good idea to shift your eyes to the big screens.
Seats near and far catch better views of the ground game on the big screen. If this is your first time, don't boo. If you do boo when the grappling takes place, hardcore fans will refer to you as a "noob" or "newbie."
The fighters look mean and nasty. They absolutely enter the ring ready to destroy. Blood, sweat, and tears will leak onto the canvas as well as their opponents.
But they are humble. When the show is over they will mingle at the exit of the arena with family and friends.
They will happily acknowledge your interest in their fight whether they win, lose or draw.
But looking at the caliber of fighters on this card, the guess here is there will not be many draws.
Visit hardrockcasinotulsa.com for ticket information.
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