Cage Sport XXI by Brian Halquist Productions, Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, Going To Root Sports on September 29th: Ladies and Gentlemen… This Is Getting Serious.September 26th, 2012 by Joshua Scott Beranis
The dynamics of Mixed Martial Arts competition and its following in Washington has reached a plateau that could rival the home-team pride found at College Football games. Easily, it could be said that local MMA’s audience is becoming more general. Perhaps, this can be attributed largely in part to the significant appearance of mainstream cage fighting found now on the FX television network, and the rock-star status which UFC President Dana White has reached with interviews by Rolling Stone, television spots, and other popular magazines.
In the past, Rumble On The Ridge, a locally celebrated MMA competition at Snoqualmie Casino, Snoqualmie, has made continual appearances on Root Sports, catering to the celebrity of pro as well as amateur fighters looking to grow within the local circuit. Many of these fighters are following the underlying dream of moving on to such organizations as Strikeforce, or even the UFC. Not to mention, it must be pretty damn sweet seeing yourself the following Friday of your bout on a nationally broadcast sports channel.
Brian Halquist, of Halquist Productions, is aware of this prospect, fundamental to the growth of the individual within the highly competitive sport, and to the growth of the sport itself spiraling outward to broader and broader audiences. That is why this coming Saturday’s Cage Sport event, the first in a series to be pumped in sequence to the public through Root Sports, is such a big deal to Halquist Productions. It is also why it should be such a big deal to MMA fans all across the Northwest.
For two undefeated fighters competing at the event, the taste is sweet. Especially for Brandon Dudley, a 35 year old family man, once an Army Ranger. Dudley has been on hiatus since 2007, aside from a succesfull Muay Thai fight in 2010 which he won by decision. Marriage, children, and extensive knee surgery have provided the five-year stretch leading up to his ominous fight against Emmanuelle Sanchez (3-0 as a Pro, with a 6-1 amateur record) this Saturday. The bout will be at 155 lbs. (Lightweight).
As an amateur, Dudley was a 5-0. His professional status is 2-0. 5 of those seven wins were via submission.
“I started training officially in 1995,” says Dudley, “and I was mainly training Jiu Jitsu.”
His strength, as he explains, is mainly on the ground with his Jiu Jitsu. He has trained under many distinguished coaches and gyms in his experiences, but most recently under the tutelage of Matt Hume. The progression and evolution he has felt since being associated with Hume seems to be ringing louder and clearer then past training experiences.
“For me,” adds Dudley, “It really is a way of life, being a martial artist. The competition is only one aspect of this. I am looking to know myself, and improve myself on all levels.”
Despite the hearty numbers, Dudley isn’t taking his bout against Sanchez lightly. He is aware that they will both be bringing excellent cardio to the table on Saturday, and while Dudley takes comfort in his ground-game, he is also aware of Sanchez’ comfort with standing and pressing the fight out face to face.
Dudley’s respect for the danger in facing Sanchez after a seemingly long hiatus was no secret he felt unwilling to put on the record.
“I’ve seen his videos,” says Dudley. “He looks tough, composed, comfortable in the cage… and those are the kind of attributes you want to have. Judging from those videos I would say he’s not (going to) get flustered or overwhelmed, he’s not (going to) quit, he’s not (going to) gas. He’s (going to) be there the whole fight.”
For a 23 year old, one would assume that holding any sort of personal charm with a disgustingly tall undefeated amateur record of 10-0 and professional record of 8-0, would be impossible. Such is not the case with Julian Erosa, who holds this auspicious record. He is not pompous or disrespectful. If anything, he is fun-loving and oblivious. An avid skateboarder and snowboarder (adding an alternative edge to that youthful charm) Erosa talks lightheartedly about how he got involved in MMA to begin with.
“It was one summer I got into quite a few fights, whether out in town or at the skate-park,” Erosa explains. “One guy I ended up in a fight with tried pressing charges against me. The charges were dropped, but I was on edge about it. I like to fight, but I was finding out you could get in a lot of trouble for it. I found out we had a gym here in town (Yakima Gym, Yakima). I got involved with them. After My first amateur fight I was getting congratulated for fighting instead of punished for it. It was kind of a weird feeling.”
Erosa’s scheduled bout is against Jason Gybles at 155 lbs. Julian Erosa trains alongside Bryan Caraway (UFC) and Miesha Tate (former Strikeforce female bantamweight champion).
Even for the legendary Brian Halquist, this Saturday’s Cage Sport XXI is a momentous occasion. The fight is stacked with ten scheduled professional MMA bouts, and while Halquist has maintained his status with Cage Sport as the only all-pro card in Washington, it will be the first time the promotion has aired on Root Sports. It marks a new era in local MMA, as many of these fighters are on their way to compete in Strikeforce, and even the UFC.
In addition to the card, which is as thick as a brick, there will be celebrity appearances by the likes of KZOK’s morning talk radio host Danny Bonaduce, former UFC fighter, UFC announcer, UFC broadcaster, UFC I’ve been everywhere man Jeff Osborne, and Miesha Tate (former female bantamweight champion for Strikeforce).
With the illustrious Cage Sport promotion at Emerald Queen Casino of Tacoma, WA, now being aired on Root Sports, the odds are not being stacked against the continued rise of MMA in Washington. If anything, it has just begun an unprecidented assent to further prosperity.
Event on Saturday, September 29, Doors open at 6p.m., first bout at 7p.m. Tickets are $35-$55-$100