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Posted Date:10/26/2006

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Posted Date : 2/10/2006




American Idol-style show in works for MMA

New Era Fighting to hold tryouts, tournament for right to face Leopoldo

By David A. Avila
MSNBC contributor
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 your chance.

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 League.

“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.



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