Former Vineland policeman brings Cage Fury to busy MMA landscape
Professional prize fighting has the WBC (World Boxing Council), the WBA (World Boxing Association) and the IBF (International Boxing Federation) as the big three organizations that dominate the sport. In the world of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), the alphabet soup of organizations is enough to make your head swim.
Although the dominant MMA organization -- Ultimate Fighting Championship -- hasn't had a fight card in town since 2005, there has been no slowdown in MMA action in Atlantic City.
MMA cards in 2006 included Lou Neglia's Ring of Combat, MFC (Mixed Fighting Championship), Reality Fighting, the International Fight League, and scheduled for next month, the WBF (World's Best Fighter).
Another organization getting its feet wet in the MMA market is Felix and Amy Martinez' AmFlex Promotions, which presents Cage Fury III: The Battleground at the Tropicana this Friday, Jan. 19. It is the company's third event in Atlantic City.
Vineland native Felix Martinez was a captain for the Vineland High School wrestling team and won the districts as a senior. Later, he was a Vineland police officer for 12 years and was a wrestler in the World Policemen and Firemen Games in Sweden. His wife Amy has a strong sales and recruiter background. During a recent chat with Martinez, he explained how he got into promoting his own MMA event.
"I had wrestled and I started following the sport when my friend Carlos Nieves began fighting," says Martinez. "I talked to my wife and said I would like to do an MMA event." The couple -- investors by profession -- decided to invest some of their capital into Cage Fury. Asked about any concerns he had about the market being glutted with mixed martial arts fight cards, Martinez explains, "When I was going to these shows, I realized something was lacking. I bring in four big screen TVs and entertainment. From Cage Fury I to Cage Fury II, more women were coming out. I cater to the women with intermission shows.
"We took a chance with Cage Fury I," Martinez continues. "We almost sold out that show and with Cage Fury II, same thing."
Starting out from scratch, Martinez hired Gary Marino, a fight manager who became his matchmaker. Plus, he had contacts through his fight friend Nieves.
"A lot of fighters were complaining about pay scales," says Martinez. "We pay our fighters pretty well. I think the key is taking care of your fighters. Without fighters there is no show. They give you 100 percent in the cage."
As a former wrestler, has he ever considered getting in the cage himself?
"I get asked that all the time," Martinez says. "I'm getting older and it takes a lot of work [to get in fight shape]. It takes a special person to get in that cage."
Just such a special person is Anthony D'Angelo, a welterweight who will take on titleholder Tamden McCroy in one of the three Cage Fury main events with the NABC (North American Boxing Council) MMA welterweight belt on the line. Mixed Martial Arts is such a big business these days, this former boxing-only organization now has MMA belts.
D'Angelo started martial arts training at 15 and is one of four brothers. His brothers and his dad all are involved in martial arts, and when he isn't competing, D'Angelo teaches martial arts as a living.
"It's something we do together to have fun," says D'Angelo, who won't say if he is a better fighter standing up or in the grappling position. "You have to be well-rounded to compete successfully," he adds. "You have to do everything.
D'Angelo says he is expecting a very exciting fight on Friday ("the fans are great here"), having studied film of his opponent. "Of course it will be tough, he's the champion."
Showing his skills in public relations, promoter Martinez is turning his weigh-in into an event by having it take place at the posh 40/40 Club tonight (Thursday, Jan. 18) at 8pm, including an autograph session with MMA superstars Tito Ortiz, "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy," and Dan "The Beast" Severn along with the eye candy of the Cage Fury Cage Girls. The weigh-in is free and open to the public. Severn will also be on hand for fight night as the guest commentator.
Cage Fury Fighting will feature nine preliminary events and four title fights. For the complete fight card and more info, visit the Web site www.cagefuryfighting.com.
Cage Fury III, Friday, Jan. 18, 8pm, Tropicana Showroom. Tickets: $55, $60, $75, $100, $150 and $200, available at the Tropicana box office and from Ticketmaster 1-800-736-1420.
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