Locals to fight in mixed martial arts show at fairgrounds
Posted: Thursday, Dec 9th, 2010

After months of work, the Monterey Bay Fight Club, formed by Watsonville four-time world champion boxer Carina “La Reina” Moreno and her business partners, will present its first event, an amateur mixed martial arts showdown Saturday at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds.

Titled “Coastal Collision,” the event will feature some of Northern California’s top fighters in nine bouts. Seven of the 18 fighters are from Santa Cruz County, including four from Watsonville, Manuel Diaz, Juan Ortiz, Gabriel Haro and Guillermo Rocha.

“We don’t have a whole lot of events in Watsonville, and I think this is a great event,” said Moreno, who added that she was “very excited.”

Mixed martial arts, often referred to as MMA, has risen in popularity in recent years, since the Ultimate Fighting Championship was founded in 1993. Many MMA competitors have backgrounds in other disciplines, including martial arts, boxing and wrestling. Fighters, who wear lighter gloves than boxers, can punch, kick and wrestle on the mat, and can win by knockout, via decision or by putting their opponents in a hold that forces them to submit.

While some amateur MMA cards are held in boxing rings, Moreno said the “Coastal Collision” will feature an Octagon-style cage like those used in UFC.

“You’re going to see a combination of everything in that cage,” Moreno said.

Part of the proceeds from the card will go to benefit sports and academic scholarship’s at Moreno’s alma mater, Watsonville High. The Monterey Bay Fight Club plans to hold boxing cards as well as MMA in the future.

“This is our first show and we want it to be special,” Moreno said. “The fact that we are raising money for students at Watsonville High School is the main reason I think people should come support this show. In addition, fans will enjoy action-packed fights throughout the night.

“The goal is to build a great foundation and bring big fights to the Monterey and Santa Cruz counties. I plan to fight sometime next year under the Monterey Bay Fight Club promotional banner.”

Moreno also hopes that Haro and Diaz, who are part of the Freedom Boulevard gym she operates with trainer and business partner Rick Noble, wins their bouts. The two are experts in jiujitsu, winning at the world level, including at the U.S. Open of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu earlier this year, Moreno said.

The fights, each of which are scheduled for three two-minute rounds, are as follows: Paul Rice (San Jose) vs. Fabian Lopez (Salinas), Manuel Diaz (Watsonville) vs. Efain Cintron (San Francisco), Juan Ortiz (Watsonville) vs. Shana Montgomery (Daly City), Gabriel Haro (Watsonville) vs. Vincent Virut (Newman), Marco Del Real (Santa Cruz) vs. Donasabe Mohammed (Napa), Guillermo Rocha (Watsonville) vs. Tanner Marlow (Bakersfield), Andrew Rynhard (San Jose) vs. Brian Holquin (San Jose), A.J. Vertsaw (Aptos) vs. Dryden Wilson (San Jose) and Brian Schatz (Santa Cruz) vs. Eduardo Carrillo (San Jose).

The event will be held inside the fairgrounds’ JJ Crosetti Building and will start at 6 p.m. The doors will open at 4:30 p.m. The venue will hold 950 people, and tickets, which range from $30-50, are still available. They can be purchased online at www.vbotickets.com or by calling the Monterey Bay Fight Club box office at 662-3588.