Pro fight nights
Hobbs makes professional MMA debut, Zwicker earns first title shot
After winning eight of 10 fights and garnering fan support galore, it’s time to take that next step.
The necessary next step is professional mixed martial arts cage fighter.
Grant Hobbs, 23, did all he could do as a high school wrestler at Dove Creek, grappling to two state titles. The next challenge was the cage. When Hobbs stepped into his fenced surroundings, he went 8-2 as an amateur MMA fighter. He won his last five fights, each in different fashion. Hobbs dominated, came from behind, TKO’d and won bouts by various submission holds.
Hobbs feels he has mastered all he can at the amateur level.
The hometown hero will make his pro debut Saturday, July 7, in “Wrangler,” presented by King of the Cage, at the Ute Mountain Casino in Towaoc.
“It’s just taking another step. It’s not really any different turning professional,” said Hobbs, who will take on Gene Perez at 125 pounds. “The competition is becoming a little stiffer, but I’m ready for that. I’m excited to put a pro subtitle next to my name.”
Perez, of Los Lunas, N.M., has five pro fights under his belt and possesses a record of 2-3. Hobbs says his opponent is a boxing style fighter.
“I’m pretty well rounded in everything that I’m doing. I feel like my striking has taken huge leaps and bounds,” he said. “Of course, I still have that edge where I was a wrestler. That’s always going to be my dominant position. But stand up is catching up and it’s better than it’s ever been.”
It will be Hobbs’ second fight for Cortez’ Lifer MMA. He defeated Sergio Gutierrez by second round rear naked chokehold April 21. But that was in the past. Hobbs is now 0-0 as a pro.
“This is where my career is going to start growing real fast,” he said. “Hopefully, now that I’m professional, people will start looking at me and noticing what I actually have. It’s crucial to me to win every fight. I want to make a statement. This is the biggest fight I’ve had in my life.”
Also fighting for Lifer MMA, is amateur 130-pounder Joey Trevino (0-1). The 23-year-old made his debut May 12 at 135 pounds in Santa Fe, N.M. Despite battling for three full rounds and battling the hostile Land of Enchantment crowd, Trevino lost by judges unanimous decision to Mitch O’Connell.
“I didn’t expect it to be so nervewracking, but the crowd made it that way,” said Trevino, who is sponsored by Sinful Tattooing in Cortez. “When I came out, they booed me. It made it uneasy at the beginning.”
Trevino had been gearing up for a home fight for roughly a year. But his two previous scheduled fights were cancelled due to his opponents not showing up. So, Trevino headed south of the border to the Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino in King of the Cage “Nightmare.”
“I wanted a fight, so there was no point in me not taking the fight,” he said. “It was an experience I’ll never forget. I was addicted.”
Trevino’s nerves calmed a bit in the second round. He held O’Connell in a rear naked choke, but couldn’t hold on.
“I shouldn’t have let it go to the judges,” Trevino said.
Learning from experience, Trevino feels he needs to be more aggressive in his home debut against a fighter yet to be determined. Lifer MMA owner and trainer Kaan Clark has been working with Trevino’s upper body strength and boxing skills.
“I wasn’t really being the aggressor, I was more of a counter fighter,” said Trevino about his loss to O’Connell. “I’m thinking that’s what lost it for me, being that it was so close. I wasn’t putting the fight the way I wanted it go.”
In women’s pro action, Elsie Zwicker, formerly Elsie Henri, will fight Jessica Kenneth for the 125-pound Superfight Title. It is Zwicker’s first title shot and first fight in almost a year. She defeated Amylynn Salopek after a first round corner stoppage in Towaoc last July to up her record to 5-4.
The McElmo Canyon resident is undefeated in home fights.
Doors open at the Ute Mountain Casino on July 7, at 6 p.m. with the fights beginning at 7. Tickets can be purchased through the Ute Mountain Casino Gift Shop or by calling 800-258-8007. It’s an all ages event, but children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Reach Bobby Abplanalp at email@example.com.