Mixed Martial Arts

Saturday night can’t come soon enough for local fight fans

Photo by Karla Rivas – Andrew Guisa

By Ray Hamill — The long wait is finally almost over for local MMA fans, with the Bear River Casino fight night making a welcome return this weekend for the first time in more than two years.

Saturday night’s card will feature 14 fights, including three pro bouts, and it is the first of four fight nights at the casino planned for 2022.

“I would be shocked if it doesn’t sell out after the past two years,” said fight night promoter Brian Wilson of Hard Fought Productions. “Preparations are going well. We’re excited, and I know the casino is excited to have us back.”

The much-anticipated night will feature several local fighters in action, many of whom will be making their MMA debuts, as well as one local favorite who will be finally making his pro debut.

Former Eureka High wrestler Andrew Guisa took up the sport of MMA six years ago and had planned on making the leap to the pro ranks in 2020, before those plans were put on hold because of COVID-19.

But Guisa is finally ready to make the switch and he will headline Saturday night’s card in a showdown against Richard Carson at 170 pounds (welterweight).

And Wilson, who also trains Guisa at the Lost Boys gym in Arcata, believes he’s ready to go.

“Andrew’s been with us a long time, and he’s really a product of our team,” Wilson said. “Like the Cosce brothers, he’s a pro we’re going to be very proud of.”

Guisa has had to wait patiently for his chance in the pro ranks, but that should stand to him moving forward.

“He’s chomping at the bit to do it,” said Wilson, who described him as a versatile fighter who can adapt to whatever his opponents try to do.

“He’s a well-rounded guy. He’s a good standup fighter, he’s a great jiu jitsu fighter and he’s a great wrestler. And he’s got a big heart and he’s proven to be very durable in his fights.

“I don’t have a guy on my team I’m more proud of. He’s a world class person.”

Several other local fighters, all out of the Lost Boys gym, will be making their fight debuts on Saturday.

Titus Balliet, a Fortuna High graduate, will debut at 150 pounds (middleweight) and is an athletic fighter the trainer believes will have a big first fight.

Also debuting at 170 is Sean Stock.

“He’s a really slick solid grappler,” Wilson said. “He’s a natural athlete and a great competitor and we’re looking to see him him put it all together.”

Lost Boys teammate Nathan Cruz will also debut at 125, as will Sam Gonzalez, another Fortuna fighter, at 135.

“Nathan is a very versatile and creative kid and he’s got a lot of heart, and he’s going to have a good showing,” Wilson said of Cruz.

Gonzalez, meanwhile, is expected to impress the fans.

“That kid is very athletic, and he’s got a great gas tank,” the trainer said. “He’s learned so much. He’s like a sponge, and when people watch him fight on Saturday, it’s not going to look like a debut.”

One other local Lost Boys fighter, Kaeron Corbett, will also be in action on Saturday night.

Corbett is another well-rounded athletic fighter who is 1-1 and Wilson believes he’s positioned to finish his heavyweight fight.

The fights will be held at the Bear River Recreation Center, with the doors opening at 5 p.m. and the fights getting under way at 6:30 p.m.

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