What was special about this event? It was the first official mixed martial arts show that Sherdog.com was ever credentialed for. I had been to events before -- such as Kage Kombat in San Pedro, where I watched a couple of young Armenians by the names of Manny Gamburyan and Karo Parisyan -- but this was different.
I was so excited to be covering my first show that I made about six of my buddies buy tickets. It was a very cold night, and the cage was set up in the middle of a baseball field on the Barona Indian Reservation. Promoter Ryan Chenoweth was happy to have me there and treated me like a king.
My buddy, Chris Foster, and I arrived early, so we began to walk around and talk to the fighters. The first fighter we walked up to was Jeremy Horn. At that time, Horn already had 35 wins on his resume and had fought in the UFC five times. I was amazed at how friendly he was as he sat there with his Walkman at his side.
Horn was in the main event that evening, fighting the big, strong John Marsh. Despite being beaten up by Marsh, Horn was given the judges’ decision, which did not sit well with the crowd.
This being a small event, there were some complications which dragged the show out for hours longer than scheduled. It was so cold outside that, after a certain point, you couldn’t find a cup of anything warm, and Tapout -- the only vendor there selling merchandise -- was completely sold out of hoodies. Luckily, I had already met Tapout’s Charles “Mask” Lewis, and he walked over to my spot during the show to hand me a black Tapout hoodie, as well as the now-famous red Tapout baseball cap.
This card was filled with fighters who would go on to make their marks on MMA, and some who are still making them -- guys like Antonio McKee, John Alessio, Dave Strasser and Toby Imada.
There was also a friend of mine from high school, Jason Dallas, competing on the card. I had no idea that he was even a fighter. He took on Steve Heath and was able to win by TKO due to doctor stoppage. Dallas was also Gilbert Melendez’s high school wrestling coach.
It was a great show, and one that helped build that fire in me which made me want to cover this sport, and to continue working on Sherdog.com. Take a look at the fight card from that evening, and remember it next time you hear of a small show in your city or town. Make sure you buy a ticket, because you never know what future star you could see fighting that night.