By Ray Hamill — Weight-ins for the first North Coast Combat League fight night at Cher-Ae Heights Casino will take place on Friday, with 15 fights scheduled for the inaugural event on Saturday night.
The fight night will feature MMA fights, as well as kick boxing and Mauy Thai, with several local fighters lined up, along with fighters from throughout the country.
“We’ve got people coming in from Tennessee, Texas, and everywhere,” said fight promoter John “Juan” Thompson, who also owns the Institute of Combat in Arcata, where many of the fighters on the card train.
The inaugural event at the Trinidad casino is a sign of the growing popularity of MMA and fight nights locally, following in the footsteps of the Bear River Casino fight nights, which feature mostly MMA fights and have been going for a few years now.
It also provides more opportunities for a growing number of fighters here on the North Coast who have been starved of local competition until recently.
And according to Thompson it’s only going to get better.
“We’ve had a lot of people who’ve never been to fights reaching out to us, and they’re excited to see what we’re going to do next,” the promoter said.
Thompson added that ticket sales have been going well, with the premium seating all sold out, although there are still some general admission tickets available.
Nine local fighters are expected to compete.
“Everybody seems to be on weight. All the guys look like they’re ready to go,” Thompson said. “Everything’s on track.”
Local pro MMA fighters Cass Bell and Tyson Miller, who both fight out of the Institute of Combat, will be on hand at the event, helping out in their teammates’ corner.
“Cass and Tyson are going to be cornering for all the boys, and who ever else needs help,” Thompson said. “Some of the fighters will be traveling without anybody and we’ll help out who ever needs help.”
Doors open at 5 p.m., with the fights getting under way at 6 p.m., and tickets can still be purchased through the casino or the IOC.
“We’re really excited,” Thompson said. “This is our first event, and it’s going to be a learning experience, and we’re going to grow so much from this and keep building.”