POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 16, 2009:
Finally, a Fight Night
Strikeforce event looks to KO audience with elite and local MMA fighters
It's time to put the women and children to bed and go looking for some knockouts. Truth be told, plenty of women and children enjoy the sport of mixed martial arts, so scratch that idea.
Tulsa, we should allow ourselves a moment to relish in the conquest at hand. We (mostly me) have called for a major mixed martial arts promotion to visit T-Town, and the time has come.
Strikeforce presents a Strikeforce Challengers event on September 25 at the SpiritBank Event Center, 10441 S. Regal Blvd. Get your tickets at the SpiritBank Event Center box office, strikeforce.com or ticketmaster.com.
Strikeforce is home to elite fighters including the world's number one heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko. A few other notable fighters under contract include Gegard Mousasi, Jake Shields and Gina Carano.
The promotion uses the Challengers series to showcase local talent and top-echelon fighters on Showtime. That's right; the nation will see Tulsa on Showtime. Let's rock the joint.
The card is stacked with attractive matches. A couple of local fighters sprinkled in with several world-renowned standouts should make this a remarkable evening.
Let's break down the card.
The headline bout is Tim Kennedy versus Zak Cummings. Kennedy was originally scheduled to face Evangelista Cyborg Santos. Cyborg pulled out due to an injury suffered during training.
Cummings is no slouch, though. He enters the cage with a 10-0 record. His last fight was in May, a first-round TKO against a no-name guy. He'll catch no break in Tulsa.
Tim Kennedy brings the pain. There is zero chance you can rattle this guy or get in his head. Serving in the armed forces for seven years prepares you for a little tussle in the cage.
Here are a few tidbits about Kennedy. He's fought Jason "Mayhem" Miller twice. The second fight was a classic that aired live on HDNet in 2007.
He demolished Nick "The Goat" Thompson this past June on a Challengers card. He brings a record of 11-2 into the cage with notable wins over Ryan McGivern and Jason Miller.
Kennedy's original military enlistment recently ended. As a member of a Special Forces unit, his last "official" combat deployment was to Afghanistan. "I was deployed as a Special Forces sniper supporting ground forces there. I was a sniper for five months there," Kennedy said.
The possibility of fighting full-time and continuing to serve our country looked bleak. A last minute deal allowed him to enroll with a Special Forces unit with the Texas National Guard. Although, he will soon live in Texas, he is hoping Tulsans do not hold that against him and show him some love.
In the meantime, he is ready to throw down. "I've been in Boston with (Mark) Dellagrotte at Sityodtong for a little bit. I went to Dallas and trained with Travis Lutter's guys. (At) Guy Metzger's gym, (I) worked out with some awesome southpaw boxers. For the last three or four weeks before the fight, I'm going to be in North Carolina at Team Roc," he said of his prep for the fight.
Suffice it to say, MMA enthusiasts were impressed with the previous paragraph. For those wondering what it means, let me lay it out like your mom used to lay out your clothes for school. Those are several kick-ass gyms with phenomenal specialized trainers.
This fight takes place in the 185-pound weight class. The middleweight division is by far Strikeforce's deepest.
Middleweight champion Cung Le, Robbie Lawler, Frank Shamrock, Benji Radach, Nick Diaz (when he's not high) and Scott Smith are just a few of the names banging at 185.
"It is the who's who of that weight class, and it has been for years. These guys are getting better and better. It's exciting being part of it," Kennedy said.
The division is full of characters, too. Some use their mouths the way others use elbows and knees. Do not expect the same from Kennedy.
"I have enough Green Beret friends that if I ever did some shenanigans like some of the things the guys do on the Ultimate Fighter show, they'd come into my house and just beat me to death. Also, they'd ex-communicate me from a close community of Green Berets. I won't be doing any of those things," he said.
He will, however, talk up the fight. As he sees it, you better not blink. "You're going to see some pretty slick submissions here. Be excited to see a very aggressive, fast-paced fight here. Hold on to your pants because it's going to be short," he said.
K-1 standout Ray "Sugarfoot" Sefo looks to go 2-0 in his MMA career against journeyman tough guy Kevin Jordan. A decision is unlikely in this one.
Another intriguing heavyweight bout features a guy Okies are familiar with. Daniel Cormier makes his MMA debut in front of a partisan crowd. Cormier wrestled at Oklahoma State before finishing fourth in the 2004 Athens Olympics. He's training at American Kickboxing Academy, so he'll learn the sport quick or get dumped on his head.
Thomas Longacre battles Travis Calonoc and Tyron Woodley takes on Zach Light to round out the main card.
The undercard features several fighters with local ties, including the woman's fight featuring Lacey Schuckman and Jeri Sitzes.
The undercard is highlighted by local submission specialists Levi Avera (pronounced Avery) taking on Ultimate Fighter cast-off Paul Bradley (pronounced Bradley). Bradley was jettisoned from the popular reality show for a skin condition.
Bradley has reeled off 11 wins with only one defeat in his career. His style is boring. He's an excellent wrestler, but he has not shown versatility so far in his MMA career. Hometown favorite Avera is ready to pound him out.
"I'm just going to make him fight the fight that I want to fight," Avera said. "If he takes me down I'll just punish him for it. He doesn't work for submissions. He doesn't really try to pass the guard or play any jujitsu game. I think he's a one dimensional wrestler-type fighter."
Avera fights for both local promoters, a rarity in this town. He has seen action with King of the Cage and fought on HDNet live a couple of times. This, however, will be his largest televised audience. He relishes the chance.
He trains out of Team Nogueira in Tulsa. If you are interested in sponsoring Avera on the Showtime card, hit him up through the gym via teamnogueiratulsa.com.
"MMA is growing in Tulsa, I mean, I can think of at least eight gyms in Tulsa that claim to have an MMA program," Avera said.
He is right, of course. The sport's growth across the world is matched by its growth in Tulsa. A successful Strikeforce event should lead to bigger fight cards and more attention from the MMA world.
One day my dream of packing the BOK Center might yet be realized.
This, however, is our first step.
Let's get it on!
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