Cage fights draw strong support

Staff photo: Gabriel Monte Brandon Head of Prime Performance Boxing and MMA captured his match against Jonathan Petit of Kensu Studio of Portales.

By Tony Gutierrez: CNJ staff writer

Despite the wind and rain blowing in through the side of the arena Curry County Fairgrounds, more than 600 fans gathered to see watch cage fighters do battle.

Steve Flaherty, an Amarillo pharmacist, said he attended the fight because he had some friends competing.

“It’s the most realistic fight that’s out there,” Flaherty said. “Nothing more exciting than cage fighting.”

The fight was the first Carmela Lopez of Clovis attended. Lopez said her boyfriend got her hooked on the fights.

“I was expecting it to be boring because it’s not my kind of thing, but it’s really exciting,” Lopez said.

James Peterson and Shane Stunkel of Portales traveled to see their friends compete.

“All of our buddies are fighting and they’re getting their butts kicked,” Stunkel said.

Denise Grissom, a cattle rancher from Canyon, Texas, came to see her son and his friends fight and brought along her 10-year-old grandson. She said she finds no problem in bringing children to the fights because it is a controlled sport that requires skill and there was no alcohol at the event.

After seeing several fights, A.J. Moreno, owner of Eastern New Mexico Glass, said it made him want to try it.

Omar Acosta of Hereford was among the 24 fighters. He defeated Cruz Reyna of Levelland, Texas.

“I just went out there and proved myself,” Acosta said. “I did it because I like the one-on-one. When you’re in the cage, it’s not a team. You win, it’s because of you, you lose, it’s because of you. You can’t blame it on anybody else.”

Proceeds from the fight went toward the American Red Cross’ Zia Service Center.

“We came up with the concept to do a tournament fund-raiser,” said Nicole Thompson, the center’s manager. “We’re about health and safety and emergency response. These tournaments are really laid out, we have lots of medics on hand, and all the fighters are insured.”