By Ray Hamill — Fight fans on the North Coast have never had it so good.
And neither have the fighters.
On Saturday, July 6, the first Rumble in the Redwoods will take place at the Bear River Casino, one of two new MMA events in the area this year that organizers hope will become a permanent fixture.
The Rumble is being promoted by Hard Fought Productions, the same people who have been running the very successful Bear River Fight Nights for the past four years.
“We saw an opportunity to have a smaller show in between the bigger shows,” promoter Brian Wilson said. “The whole idea is that there will be a VIP smaller intimate feel to it.”
The Rumble will feature eight or nine fights and fans are invited to stay afterwards for a special big screen broadcast of UFC 239, the most anticipated MMA event of the year.
And adding to the public interest, local MMA stars Orion and Louis Cosce will both be on a card that features some MMA fights, some kick boxing and some submission grappling.
The kick boxing has become a popular addition this year to the regular Bear River Fight Nights, which always sell out.
Switching venues to the casino ballroom, the Rumble will cater to 300 fans instead of the usual 1000 plus.
And Wilson is hoping it becomes a regular event at the casino.
“This will keep some of the fighters active in between their bigger fights,” Wilson said. “We’re really excited about it.”
It’s not the only new addition to the local MMA calendar.
The Institute of Combat in Arcata, which features local pro Cass Bell, announced recently it will host a new fight night at the Cher-Ae-Heights Casino called the North Coast Combat League, which will launch on October 12.
Bear River also is hosting four regular fight nights this year, up from three in each of the past few years, giving local MMA fighters and fans more opportunities than ever before.
Louis Cosce stole the show at the most recent fight night in early May with an eight-second knockout of Sir Gregory McGowan in the main event, and the up-and-coming MMA star will be a big draw next week.
“He’s an explosive guy,” Wilson said.
Louis Cosce, who is 3-0 as a pro MMA fighter but will be competing in grappling at the Rumble, has two more fights lined up in the near future, one in San Francisco on August 10, and the other at the next Bear River Fight Night later the same month, where he will headline along with his brother.
Louis’ fight in San Francisco is part of the URCC out of Asia.
“It’s a good opportunity for him,” Wilson said.
Other well-known local fighters will be in action at the Rumble, including Andrew Guisa, who will compete in kick boxing in the main event.
Tyler Watkins and Michael Jordan, both out of the Lost Boys Gym in Arcata, will also be in action.
Tickets for the event are on sale through the casino website or at the hotel front desk, and the action gets under way a little earlier than usual at 4 p.m. in order to be done in time for UFC 239.