This Friday night, April 16, The Desert Diamond Casino's Diamond Center will transform into a Colosseum filled with rabid fans and intense hand-to-hand combat. The gorgeous venue will play host to Roland Sarria's Rage In The Cage.
When this event and this venue come together, it's always an exciting evening of fights.
At RITC 141, fans can expect to take in 14 fights between some of the desert's best. This card has a strong showing for one local camp in particular, Apex MMA.
Joey Rivera's Apex MMA is a premier fight team competing in Tucson, Arizona. They are well known in the area and are frequent contributors to every event. They have competitors in five bouts, one of which is for an RITC strap.
Andrew Perez will be stepping up his pursuits in MMA, and he's an up-and-coming Apex prospect. Perez looks to put his camp on the map as his elite training shines through this weekend.
Another Apex fighter is a gentleman by the name of Joel Champion. A well-respected Apex trainer by the name of Rocco DePalo, who has spent countless hours in the gym training with Don Frye, sang nothing but praise for Champion.
Rocco states that Champion, an amateur, is a freestyle fighter improving at a rapid pace. He is young, fit with great stand up, and he hits hard and fast. While his ground game is a work in progress, Rocco called him an athlete with a lot of promise. Rocco is stern and a no-nonsense type of guy, his word holds a lot of weight, and hearing his praise tells us Champion should represent his team well.
One young man this writer can't wait to see fight again is the scrappy Andres Acuna. This kid is a pit-bull, and the two times I saw him fight were night and day but both equally entertaining.
The first fight was an explosive opening-round knockout that lasted 19 seconds, just destroying his opponent. The second time, he endured a war with a guy that really seemed to have his number in the grappling department, but Acuna persevered and eventually TKO'd his opponent late in the third.
Bottom line, as this hungry young fighter progresses and seasons with every fight, he will become a dangerous hurricane of lethality that will turn heads in this game. There is not an ounce of quit in him.
In a fight that could steal the show, Eddie Arizmendi Jr. will look to shock fans with his amazing brand of MMA. Arizmendi is a RITC staple and local crowd favorite represented by elite fighter management company Fight Legion under Sky Andren. We are talking about a guy with all the tools and skill to make it all the way in this sport.
Last time out, he defended and retained his MW title while giving an absolute striking clinic. He's no slouch on the ground either, "Crazy Face" has notched eleven wins. Four TKO, five submissions, with two decisions. Arizmendi finishes fights, and it's always fun to watch.
Eddie moves up in weight this Friday to face Mike Moritz at 210 pounds. This is very indicative of his hunger to challenge himself and improve. Not much is known about Moritz, but rest assured when the cage doors close and he finds himself locked in with Arizmendi, he and all the fans will learn a lot about his abilities.
Finally, Apex showcases one of their up and coming young studs, Joe Yager, in the RITC Super Heavyweight Title bout. Believe it when it is said, this young fighter is not unlike a carbon copy of UFC HW Champ Brock Lesnar in looks, build, and his deep wrestling background.
Yager has done it all in the wrestling world, formerly a competitor in college at Central Michigan where his senior year he went 36-6. He went on to coach at Pima Community College under Joe Solorio and eventually became head coach. The man knows his wrestling, and that may be an understatement.
What is fun to see when watching Joe Yager compete is how he evolves. Insiders at Apex tell me he hits like a mule, and his stand up is a constant work in progress. Yager calls himself a sponge for knowledge and seeks to improve not only his stand up but obviously the lethal BJJ grappling techniques not offered by his wrestling base.
As his young MMA career has progressed, Joe has improved greatly. He has improved so much, Mr. Sarria felt it was time to offer him a crack at the RITC SHW title, and now it's time to see if Yager can become a local champion. Surely he feels he can, as he once told me, "I know I'm prepared; Joey and the guys at Apex have definitely got me ready."
That belief in his preparedness, and his team's guidance are what will drive this man to success. And if I know Joey and the guys over at Apex, his comment is spot on.
As far as his opponent, Jo Jo Thompson, Yager may have his hands full. Jo Jo is a grinder and frequently turns in decision victories which is indicative that he has great cardio which is a strong bragging point for a SHW fighter. When he isn't grinding out decisions, he is looking for submissions, an area Yager is still progressing in.
Bottom line is, if Yager is the champion he knows that he can be, he will have to earn it Friday night. After seeing him fight a few times before, it wouldn't surprise one bit if he has some extra baggage to take home with him from the Diamond Center this weekend in the form of his first title as a mixed martial artist.
In the end, like all fight cards in the Tucson area, Apex has loaded up with great talent and is ready to blast them into the cage come fight night. They are steadily becoming a staple at every event, not only by just the fighters representing their camp, but how those fighters perform.
Joey Rivera must be proud knowing his gym is so respected and trusted to put on a good show for fight fans. Mr. Sarria obviously recognizes the talent coming out of there, and that is why he trusts in Apex to showcase them in so many fights at his events.
As a fight fan with trust in both the gym and the promotion, this writer can't wait to tell you how it all went down. Join us next week for the recap of the event.
For more information on Rage in the Cage please visit rageinthecage.com .