By Ray Hamill — It’s a long way from Hoopa Valley to Wisconsin, but it’s a trip Orion Cosce has gladly made, and one he’ll gladly make again.
Cosce, a former standout wrestler at Hoopa High, made his professional mixed martial arts debut on Saturday at the Warrior Games III in Steven’s Point, Wis., coming away with a first-round TKO of Isaiah William.
And for Cosce, a long-time member of the Lost Boys gym in Arcata, it felt just like any other fight.
“The crazy part is I never get nervous when it comes to stuff like that,” he said. “It was just another fight.”
The Down River native, who now trains in Sacramento, wasted little time in taking control of the fight, knocking William down in the second minute, before catching him with a counter right elbow with 16 seconds to go in the first round, and then quickly finishing him off.
“I went out there with the same intent I have with all my fights,” Cosce said. “It was just another sparring session.”
Cosce, who was awarded the knockout of the night for the 10-fight card, must have impressed event promoter Chris Hicks.
This week, Hicks announced Cosce will be invited back to fight at Warrior Games IV on Dec. 15.
Cosce will travel back to Wisconsin for the event, where he will fight Justin Lee Demoney for the welterweight title in the main card.
Having not fought for almost two years before this past weekend, Cosce is likely to be a busy man over the next few months.
In addition to December’s big fight, he is also slated to appear at the next Hard Fought Productions fight night at the Bear River Casino in November, although his opponent has yet to formally sign on for the showdown.
“I want to give a shout out to Bear River Casino and Hard Fought Productions and the Lost Boys for hopefully finding me a fight,” Cosce said this week from his Sacramento base. “There’s nothing I’d like more than to fight again back up in Humboldt in front of family and friends.”
Cosce, whose younger brother Louis is also a professional MMA fighter, grew up with a fighting background, and was a wrestling standout at Hoopa Valley.
During his time with the Warriors, Cosce placed twice at the North Coast Sections, and made two trips to both the state championships and the nationals.
“I loved it,” he said of his time wrestling at Hoopa.
In addition to wrestling at school, the two brothers trained at home under the watchful eye of their father Louie until they were old enough to follow their own routine.
But schoolwork came first, teaching the two brothers a lasting lesson.
“Our grades weren’t as good as they should have been, and my dad said, you guys do homework first and then you can train,” Orion Cosce said. “And so we did homework.”
After graduating Hoopa in 2012, the older Cosce was introduced to the Lost Boys through a friend, and joined up to coach wrestling for the school in order to gain access to the gym.
“They became like a family to me,” he said.
Last December, however, he made the decision to move to Sacramento, in order to “get myself promoted to bigger shows,” he said.
He now trains with Uriah Faber’s Team Alpha Male and under the guidance of former UFC fighter James “the Sandman” Irwin.
In December he will head back to Wisconsin to take on the experienced Demoney who is 17-8 as a pro.
And Cosce is looking forward to the opportunity.
“It doesn’t matter where I fight as long as I get to fight,” he said.