MIXED MARTIAL ARTS
By David A. Avila
Updated: 7:00 a.m. PT July 12, 2007
Every neighborhood has a person who
just plain loves to fight.
There’s no rhyme or reason.
It can be the ice cream man, the
smallest kid on the block, or the football player who
lifted weights all through high school and feels what
better use for the extra muscles than fighting another
person inside a ring or cage.
American heavyweight fighter, here’s
New Era Fighting offers the regular guy
on the street and all interested mixed martial arts
fighters to register for “the World’s Toughest Man
Competition” on Wednesday, at the Quiet Cannon Country
Club in Montebello, Calif. The actual fighting
competition takes place July 19-20.
One requirement: You must weigh 205
pounds or more.
“We want to find the best fighters,”
said Ron Kort, CEO for New Era Fighting. “Think of
American Idol inside a ring.”
Fighters selected from the tryouts in
Montebello will advance to another round, where they
will fight each other in a tournament format, possibly
in Las Vegas. NEF scouts will also be looking for
fighters to sign for the new company.
MMA star Kimo Leopoldo, who will face
the eventual winner of the final tournament for $1
million, knows through experience that the fighter who
emerges will have run through hell’s gauntlet.
“It’s going to take some luck and
everything to be aligned perfectly for the guy who wins
the ‘World’s Toughest Man’ contest,” said Leopoldo, who
has captured many titles and championships. “The winner
is probably going to be an unorthodox fighter who is
strong and is a naturally gifted athlete. He’ll need to
be in great shape cardio-wise ... and again, some luck
and a winning spirit.”
Kort said several tournaments will be
held ending in November or December. But that the date
for the final has not been firmly established.
“We’ll have to see how the rest of the
tournaments go,” Kort said.
NEF expects to see novice fighters with
no experience and established fighters, whether they
come from small promotions to large juggernauts like
Ultimate Fighting Championship or International Fight
“We’re looking into established stars
too,” said Kort, adding that anyone in MMA willing to
negotiate is a target. “Fedor (Emelianenko) is a someone
we’d like to speak with.”
Last year a similar tryout was held in
Costa Mesa, Calif., with NEF signing more than a half
dozen fighters. They’re looking for more.
More than 200 applicants have been
received for the Montebello tryouts next week
Participants will engage under
California rules, but no elbows or knee hits will be
allowed for safety purposes. Also, the participants will
use training gloves.
Kort says the tryouts at the Quiet
Cannon will later be shown on television.
Montebello’s Jimmy “Bomb” Lopez, a
self-described street thug, said he loves to fight and
will be signing up for the tryouts.
“I’m always down for throwing down,”
says Lopez, 29. “This is for me.”
Veteran fighter Leopoldo likes to see
guys such as Lopez.
“The winner of the ‘World’s Toughest
Man’ contest, to beat me, will need to be ready to give
or take and be as hungry as me,” Leopoldo said. “Age
isn’t a factor in our sport. Look at Randy Couture. MMA
athletes mature with age and if their bodies lose
anything at all, better techniques through experience
will more than make up for it.”
Registration on Wednesday begins at 5
p.m. and ends at 10 p.m. For information go to www.newerafighting.com.
The public is invited to watch the
tryouts on Thursday and Friday that begin at 5 p.m. and
end at 10 p.m. Tickets are $20 for onlookers. For
tickets or information, call (888) 963-9372.