Cage fighters to Kent’s ShoWare Center: The buzz and the hype

Jason Koster is one of the featured martial-arts fighters at 'The Uprising

Jason Koster is one of the featured martial-arts fighters at 'The Uprising

Kent just might become a hotbed for professional mixed martial arts cage fighting.

Twenty fighters will compete in 10 bouts in what’s being billed as The Uprising at 7 p.m. May 2 at the ShoWare Center.

The fighters use wrestling, jujitsu and boxing skills in the full-contact sport in an effort to beat their opponent. They can win by knockout, the judges’ decision or by submission, when an opponent gives up because of pain or fear of injury from a hold used against him. The bouts are slated for three, 5-minute rounds.

“We feel there’s a huge amount of mixed martial arts fans in South King County,” said Aaron McCrary, a promoter with The MMA Alliance of Seattle. “And there are fans in Seattle and Bellevue. They had to go to casinos to watch the sport prior to this.”

If all goes well with the mixed martial arts debut in Kent, the promoter plans to bring more bouts to town.

“We’re committed to Kent and to ShoWare to establish mixed martial arts at the ShoWare,” said McCrary. “If the community shows support at even a moderate level, then we will do three or four pro events per year at the ShoWare.”

The Uprising will be the first mixed martial arts event that McCrary’s group has promoted.

“We want to promote mixed martial arts to provide a safe venue for pro athletes to compete,” McCrary said. “We want to provide local awareness for the local pro athletes and try to springboard them to the highest levels in the sport.”

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Strikeforce are the two national mixed martial arts associations. McCrary hopes some of the fighters on May 2 can eventually earn a spot on either circuit.

Competitors use punches, kicks as well as elbow and knee strikes to score points and try to beat their opponent. Fighters, who are barefoot, wear gloves. No head-stomping is allowed. And yes, they fight in a cage.

The event is sanctioned by the state Department of Licensing, which oversees martial arts, boxing and wrestling events.

The three judges will be state-sanctioned officials. Two state-certified doctors will be at ringside and have the authority to stop a fight.

“It’s one of the most tightly regulated events,” McCrary said.

Fifteen of the fighters on the card have professional experience. Five competitors have fought at the amateur level but will make their professional debut. Several fighters are former wrestlers or football players.

“It’s the fastest-growing sport in the U.S.,” McCrary said. “And the demographic that’s most attracted to it is males ages 18 to 34. And they bring along their female partners.”

The main event at the ShoWare features Mike Hayes against Fabiano Scherner, a former UFC veteran, in a heavyweight showdown.

“They are seasoned professionals,” McCrary said. “Hayes is on the radar to go to the UFC or Strikeforce.”

The co-main event, at 185 pounds, features Mario Miranda, undefeated at 6-0, against Chad Vance, who has a 6-1 record. Miranda was a champion freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestler in Brazil. Vance is a former University of Iowa wrestler.

Jon “The Mauler” Maryanski, a former Tahoma High School wrestler, also is on the card. He will fight Chad Vaudrin. Brad Luvaas, an assistant wrestling coach at Highline Community College, battles David Courchaine.

Other bouts include Bristol Marunde vs. Mychal Clark, Shad Lierley vs. Deryck Ripley, Joel Pettit vs. Jason Koster, Taylor Roberts vs. John Heath and Richard St. Claire vs. Dennis Parks.

Promoters have run mixed martial arts pro competitions at Native American casinos in Washington, such as the Emerald Queen in Tacoma.

“But this is the first in King County,” McCrary said. “And it’s an all-ages event. Kids who are wrestlers can bond with their fathers at the event and mixed martial arts students can attend.”

If you go

What: Pro Mixed Martial Arts cage fighting

When: 7 p.m. May 2

Where: ShoWare Center, Kent

Cost: $30 to $75

Tickets: www.showarecenter.com or 253-856-6999


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