POSTED ON DECEMBER 26, 2012:
Extravaganza of post-Yuletide fighting
As we get older, our Christmas wishes transform. One year a video game may be all the rage and the next year, well, okay, maybe still a video game.
But you get the point. Gone are the days of Hot Wheels, Barbies, or stockings stuffed with treats. Now you are more apt to receive a sweater, bottle of liquor, or a power tool.
Others are hoping their wish list is completed next year.
"What I want for Christmas is Levi Avera and Joey Gorczynski," said Andrew Todhunter. Avera and Gorczynski may not fit under his tree, but Todhunter is hoping to put their names in his win column before the end of the 2013.
First things first, he headlines a new mixed martial arts promotion on Jan. 12. The SpiritBank Event Center hopes Combat!! MMA can make a dent in the local fight fan base.
Combat!! MMA had held one prior event to mixed reviews. They set up a cage in the Claremore Recreation Center but held mostly amateur kickboxing and Muay Thai bouts. This will be their entry into the mainstream business.
One of the selling points the new promotion is likely to push is the "all ages welcome" angle. The more established promotions in Tulsa (XFL, KOTC) have been exclusive to casino shows recently.
Now that the Oklahoma State Athletic Commission has settled their differences with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, will there be a shift in the future?
Earlier this year the UFC announced plans to sue the commission unless they lifted the four percent tax levied on all Pay Per View events sold in state. This included events held outside of Oklahoma.
Monies were secured for the OSAC to continue monitoring fight cards without the free money from PPV-buys, which are generated mostly by the UFC.
JAMES “WHITEY” WARREN
So now promoters can apply for licenses without fear their event will be canceled while legal battles loom.
The SpiritBank Event Center is a nice venue for sporting events. The Tulsa 66ers are back playing on their court. Several MMA cards have been held there in the past. It is a fairly large arena for an up-and-coming promotion trying to cut teeth in an unforgiving business.
After racking up an impressive 7-0 record as an amateur, Andrew Todhunter joined the professional ranks almost a year ago.
He has secured four straight victories to start his pro journey. Finding opponents has proven to be a challenge in the past and continues to haunt him today.
"I was hoping to know an opponent before I left for Mexico," he said about his hunting trip in early December. "Now I am back and I still don't have a name."
Whoever the promoter signs to fight him should provide more of a challenge than the dear, boar, and quail he blasted south of the border.
"It doesn't matter," he said about his 185-pound title fight opponent. "Whoever they find, whatever their style, it doesn't matter. They are going to fight my game."
A busy 2012 schedule wore him down. The trip to Mexico was solo. No family, no friends. Just him, some land, and a guide.
He was able to refocus and prioritize. It is hard to see life objectively when living in the moment. The quiet time helped him reflect on his career, his goals, and ways to achieve them.
No more focusing on the "haters" because that is wasted energy. It is also why he feels fighting Levi Avera and Joey Gorczynski are the right moves for his career at this time. Both are well-known and well-respected fighters.
He means no disrespect, but he also feels this is his time. No matter the weight class or venue, he feels these fights need to happen.
"He is the Nick Diaz of Tulsa," Todhunter said about another fighter on the card.
Casual fans may or may not know who Nick Diaz is and what he represents in the world of MMA. If you have made it this far, take one guess as to whom he is referring.
Chances are James "Whitey" Warren came out of your mouth. Even I never put two and two together. Warren = Diaz in Tulsa.
Warren stomps to the enclosure with an unmistakable Mohawk. We are not talking about a Chuck Liddell mini-Mohawk. Warren's Mohawk would smash Tim Armstrong's Mohawk then choke it out. It also comes in varying colors.
Some fighters are cautious. Others rely on counterstriking. There are many in this area who rely heavily on wrestling and submissions. Warren can do all of these but would prefer to showcase his striking game.
While watching Warren throw an array of punches, kicks, and knees at a recent show, I overheard a crowd member say that he may as well be fighting in a cage since he would probably be fighting on a Friday night regardless.
There is likely little truth to this statement. We all tend to exaggerate for the purposes of a good story, especially after a few cold ones. But seeing his love for the sport in person, well, "Whitey" Warren likes to scrap.
Do we have a new contender in the fight for local MMA love? Will it be another failed venture by someone hoping to do what others make look easy?
Visit spiritbankeventcenter.com for ticket information.
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