POSTED ON JANUARY 23, 2013:
Last One Standing
The culmination of a generation of a sport
They are coming. The top 209-pound stand up fighters from across the nation are set to clash in our backyard. On Friday, Feb. 1, The Joint will provide Xtreme Fight Night's latest offering.
We could go back to biblical times to find the first mention of two men battling for supremacy in a ring. Instead, let's travel to 1993 instead.
Ultimate Fighting Championship, the very first installment, featured an eight-man tournament-style event. The last man standing would be crowned the ultimate champion. It was a simple premise and spectators loved it.
UFC 9 took place in May 1996. It was the first UFC fight card not anchored by the popular bracket-style tournament. The shift was permanent unless you traveled to Japan or Korea. Very seldom have we witnessed combatants enter the ring or cage three times in one night.
"I've always loved the one-night tournament," said XFN promoter Dale Cook. "I was against it for Toughman Boxing because I think that is the most dangerous sport going. It is mostly out of shape guys that do not box.
"When you are talking about eight of the best strikers in America -- guys like world champion Randy Blake and Brian Collette -- these guys, it is no different than a boxer fighting a ten round fight except they get a longer rest period every three rounds and they get checked by a doctor every three rounds," Cook said.
The list of participants in this tournament is impressive. They will descend upon T-Town from states as far away as California and West Virginia. This is shaping up to be a headline-worthy event on every combat website in the world.
There has long been a bias against American kickboxers, Muay Thai and other standup specialists. This is a chance for Tulsa and our nation to bring our best to the ring and then send them overseas to represent.
The winner of Glory's inaugural "Road to Glory" tournament in Tulsa receives a $20,000 bonus as well as a one-year contract to fight abroad. More shows in different weight classes are scheduled in Los Angeles and Milwaukee later this year.
"We realize that there is a significant pool of aspiring kickboxing champions in the United States but, to date, a lack of opportunity has been a major barrier, prohibiting standup fighters here from fulfilling their dreams of becoming the best in the world in what they do," said Glory CEO Marcus Luer in a release. "Glory is committed to changing this with our Road to Glory USA fight series."
Mixed martial arts pummeled the combat sports competition years ago. Boxing is hanging on by a thread in hopes of a no-longer-anticipated Manny Pacquiao versus Floyd Mayweather Jr. bout.
Kickboxing thrived until K-1 ran into financial troubles in 2010. They attempted a rebirth but once again ran into money issues late last year.
So if your specialty was striking, but you did not care about the wrestling or submission aspects of fighting, you were out of luck.
For the first time in years there is an outlet for striking specialists to earn a career and prove themselves on a big stage.
COURTESY OF MORGAN CLEMENTS
Once again, Tulsa is on the front lines. The depth of talent and support make ours one of the best foundation cities to launch such a gigantic undertaking.
ISKA World Champion and K-1 veteran Randy "Boom Boom" Blake is the lone Tulsa entry. Can he fend off various styles and attacks in one night to earn the tournament glory? It will be his toughest challenge to date.
No rest for the weary. That is not true. The tournament participants will get rest and doctor attention between rounds. Instead of intermission or lulls in the action, XFN brings MMA bouts to the ring.
Between rounds of the tournament you can still see your favorite local fighters in MMA style matches.
Codale Ford lost a painful kickboxing bout last year to undefeated Brazilian ISKA World Champion Marico Navarro. Now he looks to even the score in a MMA bout.
Instead of eating debilitating leg kicks he can counter with a takedown. Will this even the score or will Navarro prove to be too much in both disciplines?
Two XFL championship belts are on the line. These two fights will take place between the semi-final and final bouts of the Glory tournament.
XFL 115-pound female champion Kathina Catron looks to remain undefeated against challenger Jordan Gaza. It never ceases to amaze how the women almost always steal the show.
The final mixed martial arts bout on the evening showcases newly crowned 170-pound champion Ed Cline Jr. He went 4-0 last year with all bouts inside The Joint and ending in the first round.
His challenger is no slouch. Cody Pfister was a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter. He is also a young, talented fighter with a similar record.
COURTESY OF MORGAN CLEMENTS
This should electrify the crowd before the tournament finale takes place to end the night.
The tournament winner will have won three contests against stiff competition. He will have earned every penny and every accolade when he exits the ring.
Tickets are available at hardrockcasinotulsa.com. If special guests are your thing, legendary pioneer of the sport Frank Shamrock will be present. .
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