PLYMOUTH – Saturday night at The Zone in Plymouth local fans of mixed martial arts will be able to see some of the best amateur fighters in the midwest as the Michiana Fight League will bring a card of some of Plymouth’s finest to the cage in a card that starts at 6 p.m.
Plymouth natives John Popi, Trent Keyser, Scott Bradley, and Claire Guthrie will show their skill and enjoy the limelight for a night in Plymouth.
The popularity of mixed martial arts fighting is growing in popularity all over the world and some of the top amateurs in the state are native to and train here in Plymouth. Far from the glamour of the big time fight game, Plymouth’s fighters do it for the love of the sport.
“There’s something about it that you might walk away for awhile but you keep coming back,” said Travis Smith, a coach and promoter with the Michiana Fight League who is a native of Marshall/Starke county and works now out of Osceola. “I know for me it is the thrill of mano y mano, it’s nothing like football or other sports. Once that cage closes it’s just you and that other guy. The thrill of combat is what draws me and I think a lot of our guys.”
MFL has gained a reputation as one of the best in Indiana and sports a stable of established professional fighters in addition to their group of amateur fighters. It was a hard won reputation.
The group started – literally – in the garage of Plymouth’s Josh Xaver who along with Plymouth native Rich MacMillen set up a “gym” to train MMA fighters. Several garages later the MFL has grown up.
“It was just a bunch of guys training and that was all that matters,” said Smith. “Just a garage, just those propane heaters blowing, trying to stay warm in the winter, everybody wearing socks. You go to any big gym in the country you never see anybody in socks but on a hard concrete floor in the winter you do what you have to to keep your feet warm in the cold.”
The reputation as a top fight league was just as hard won.
“We’ve gotten our reputation because we aren’t going to give anybody a gimme fight,” said Smith. “We’re not going to ‘feed’ any fighter with a fight that they know they’re going to win. We give our fighters fights that make sense, that are going to be competitive.”
“We’ve gotten a good reputation because we provide a place where fighters don’t have to deal with promoters,” said Smith. “This can be a cut throat business. We give fighters a place where they can trust that they aren’t getting ‘fed’ to another fighter.”
The card of amateur fighters on Saturday includes some of Plymouth’s finest and a female fighter that is close to one another of Plymouth’s finest. Claire Guthrie is in a relationship with Plymouth M.M.A. fighter Ed Johnson and one of the best in her own right.
“She is probably the best female fighter in Indiana right now,” said Smith.
The MFL is also excited to be involved with The Zone in Plymouth for an event.
“We do a lot of events at the Century Center which is one of the top venues in Indiana,” said Smith. “We are really excited to be involved with the Miller’s and the Zone.”
The Zone has a close relationship with the MFL – not just with owners Barb and Rick Miller – but with their son Ricky Miller who is also a part of the MFL stable as one of their top professional fighters. Ricky also runs an a jiu jitsu gym at The Zone affiliated with MFL.
“What you are going to see if you are coming out for the first time is a lot of blood, sweat and tears,” said Smith. “These fighters put in hours and hours of grind for the nine minutes that make up the entertainment for the night. There is also food and adult beverages so it’s just a great night of entertainment.”
Tickets are available online at www.mflmma.com or at The Zone in Plymouth. There are a limited number.
“There are tickets left but there is a limited number so people should go online and order or get to The Zone,” said Smith. “Once that number is sold it will be a sold out event.”