It’s infectious: Mixed-martial-arts event back in town
Vail, CO Colorado
EAGLE ” Last March, when the first mixed-martial-arts event came to Eagle County, local residents flocked to Vail’s Dobson Arena to get a glimpse of one of the fastest-growing sports in the country.
Tonight, when BattleQuest 6 hits the Eagle Pavilion, local residents will flock to the ring. In the fourth MMA event to come to the county, five locals will be fighting on an 11-match card.
“Eventually, I’d like to have the whole fighter card half Vail and half somewhere else,” said Carlos Carvahlo, the fight promoter and instructor at Inyodo Studios in Edwards, where the fighters train. “I’m really impressed ” the sport has been growing a lot. The fan base in the (county) is huge.”
While the viewer-friendly sport is popular among fans, it’s also gaining ground with
“I saw a lot of the guys I wrestled with in college doing well, and I wasn’t getting any younger,” said Rocky Johnson, of Elizabeth. “After college wrestling, there wasn’t a whole lot to go into besides something like MMA. It was exploding at the time and in its early stages but not nearly as much as now.”
Johnson, who won the title bout at BattleQuest 5 in March, is back for another match tonight.
Chris Harvey, a former state wrestling champion and an Eagle Valley alumnus, took to the ring as an MMA fighter for the first time during BattleQuest 5 and will be back in the ring tonight.
“I know what to be used to and what to be ready for,” Harvey said. “(The first fight) was fun. I’ve never felt anything like that in my entire life.”
Harvey, who will be wrestling at Mesa State this season, knows how much technique and practice goes into MMA, which, as the name implies, incorporates parts of several disciplines.
“Jiujitsu is something I’m fond of because it’s similar to wrestling. It’s something you really need in the fighting world. And muay thai boxing ” I like that a lot, too,” Harvey said.
Johnson, in his fourth year fighting, is used to dispelling the myth that MMA is just about brutes beating one another.
“The first thing you have to overcome is violence and the aspect that you’re a violent person,” he said. “Occasionally you’ll get blood, but almost everybody I’ve fought, we’ll go out and have a beer afterward and be friends and call each other.”
Just ask Johnson’s opponent from the last BattleQuest, Ben Henderson, whom Johnson knocked out less than a minute into the fight.
“I started training with him and his coach, and he works for me,” Johnson said.
The nine-bout amateur card has guys with several fights under their belts as well as first-timers like local resident Ismael Hermosillo, who was recruited in part by his cousin Robert Hermosillo, also on tonight’s card.
“Bobby has been training for a while and told me to get into it,” said Ismael, who graduated from Eagle Valley in 2002 and wrestled with Harvey for one year. “The first fight I saw was Chris, and his fight got me more anxious to get in there because I wrestled with him and know how that is.
“There’s a lot more to learn with this sport and more to throw into it. That’s why I enjoy it. I’m learning every day.”
The doors at the Eagle Pavilion open at 7 p.m., with the first bell at 8 p.m. For the nine amateur bouts, there will be three three-minute rounds. Professional bouts will have three five-minute rounds.
Tickets are still available and can be purchased at City Market, GNC in Avon, Inyodo Studios, online at http://www.ticketswest.com or by phone at 866-464-2626. General admission is $25, while floor seating is $40. For VIP tables, call 303-250-3627.
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.