Three weeks ago, Urijah Faber helped launch the UFC on FOX Sports 1 debut. The new 24/7 sports channel hopes to compete with ESPN. Their initial UFC fight card was a scintillating success, and Faber was a huge part of it.
On Friday, September 6, Faber visits Tulsa as the special guest of promoter Dale "Apollo" Cook and his Xtreme Fight Night. Faber will be available for meet and greet opportunities as well as taking in the action cageside.
Faber is easily one of the most identifiable faces in mixed martial arts. His signature chin, small-but-powerful stature, and California style separate him from his competitors.
He is also a former champion. He is one of the first MMA fighters to be featured in a prominent companies advertising. His AMP Energy Drink commercials were groundbreaking and paved the way for his fellow martial artists to earn endorsement deals on top of their fight purse.
All of this to say, will he move the needle? Will a superstar like Urijah Faber cause casual fight fans (yes, there are casual fans) to purchase a ticket to XFN when they otherwise might have skipped the event?
The merits of bringing in a special guest to promote an event have long been debated.
Some of the super duper stars collect their fee and have little fan interaction. Others go out of their way to bring a smile to the faces of all. They engage and come across as down to earth regular people. Faber seems to fit the bill for the later.
But the belief by hardcore fans is that the fight card and matchups make the difference. While this is true, we cannot overlook the casual fan who may dream of their next profile pic standing next to UFC star Urijah Faber.
Women, women, women. Mentioning women three times was not happenstance. The XFN fight card includes three female bouts.
The upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter is ground breaking. Women enter the famed TUF house for the first time. The two UFC coaches happen to be two of the most popular fighters in the world. They are women. No big deal.
The trend continues on the local scene. While some may still cringe at the thought of girls punching the crap out of each other, no one can deny their skill level and passion.
Jaymee Jones takes on Chelsea Bailey in one of the main card bouts. Jones had the loudest one-man cheering section in The Joint last time out. Her husband, former OU running back Kejuan Jones, was loud and proud. He barked a mix of cheers and strategies while videoing her bout.
A bit later in the evening, Maegen Goodwin battles Yuri Medina. Medina hails from Texas and not much is known about her. However, if she plans to escape the cage, she better be in top form. Goodwin has looked impressive each time she has stepped in the ring or cage. She is inching close to breaking into the national spotlight.
The co-main event features Kathina Catron. She takes on Canadian Susy Watson for the XFL flyweight title. Catron used her success at previous XFN events to earn fights abroad. She returns to the home crowd and looks to add another championship belt to her mantel.
Some martial artists earn their purple belts and some purchase them. Since we have no way to tell, let's skip this level this week.
Ed Cline was scheduled to face Cody Pfister for the XFL welterweight championship. That bout has been rescheduled for the November's Xtreme Fight Night event.
Instead, Cline takes on Dillon Thomas. Replacement fighters typically are a step down in competition. That is not the case this time out.
Thomas burst on the Tulsa fight scene earlier this year with a shocking win over long time XFL poster boy Dylan Smith. His grappling looked elite.
Now he will test himself against crowd favorite Ed Cline. Cline has tasted defeat, but it has been a long time. Since the start of 2012 he compiled a 5-0-1 record against top-level competition.
Who does the short notice favor? We will find out Friday night.
A total of thirteen bouts are scheduled. A mix of kickboxing and MMA are sprinkled throughout. A cage will be dropped inside The Joint so no boxing matches this time around.
Some of the featured fights include area favorites. Jarrett Rouse rematches Brandon Phillips in a kickboxing superfight. Rouse escaped with a decision last time they fought. Phillips and his corner felt it was a home-cooked decision. Neither fighter wants the judges to factor into a decision this time out.
The XFL bantamweight belt is up for grabs when Micah Stockton challenges Cody Fuller. Stockton trains at The Factory which is an elite MMA school in Tulsa. Fuller has been a world-ranked lighter weight fighter for years.
In a surprising turn of events, Levi Avera returns to the cage. Avera holds a 17-12 record. Most of those fights took place at 170 pounds. It will be close to a year since he fought last.
He will now cut weight to reach his new 205-pound division. Avera once held the nickname "The Man of 1,000 Holds" before promoters used the "Marine" moniker instead. Does the Marine have the testicular fortitude to make another run in the fight game?
He plans to return to his roots -- less technique and more ass beatings. Will the extra weight make him stronger and allow him to inflict more damage? Or will he just be a slower version of his former self?
I will be inside The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa with Urijah Faber. Will you?
Doors open at 7pm. Visit hardrockcasinotulsa.com for tickets.
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