Friday, May 29, 2009 | 11:50 p.m.
LaTasha Marzolla always knew the time spent rough-housing with her younger brother, Michael, in the family living room would pay off some day.
The 29-year-old mixed martial artists just hopes she can remember something from those long-ago fighting sessions when she makes her MMA debut tonight against Christy Tada at the Tuff-N-Uff event at the Orleans.
“I’m definitely ready to get back out there and fight. It’s been a while,” said Marzolla, who was set to fight earlier in the year before a pair of nagging injuries pushed her back to today’s card.
“I’m really confident and I can’t wait to see how I do in my MMA debut.”
Today’s event will not only be a special one for Marzolla, but also for the Tuff-N-UFF organization, which is producing a full-day extravaganza of MMA fights at the Orleans.
“It’s a big, big show for us,” said Tuff-N-Uff president Barry Meyer. “The open invitational will feature more than 40 fights, fighters from 14 states beginning at noon on two different rings inside the Orleans arena. We had to go to the arena, because the normal ballroom wouldn’t hold all the fighters or our anticipated audience.
“Then at 6 p.m. we will tear one of the rings down and start the main event at 8 p.m., which features the fighters from Mexico versus the U.S. Some other local fighters are on this card as well like Larry Mir (UFC interim champ Frank Mir’s cousin), Marzolla and Tomsilav Lober. He’s the giant guy who holds bikes in place with his bare hands.
Meyer could barely contain his enthusiasm when he discussed the 6-foot-9, 290-pound Croatian, who disposed of his opponent in last month’s show in just 17 seconds.
“We think we got a good challenge for him this time in Sam Collinwood. He’s about 6-foot-4, 250 pounds and he’s got seven fights under his belt. The match should be exciting, but really the whole day is gonna be an awesome showcase of amateur fighters.”
While she might not have the size of Lober or the name recognition of Mir, it’s possible that the buxom blonde Marzolla will receive the most noise from the crowd tonight, considering the former Muay Thai fighter is also Playboy’s 2004 special editions model of the year.
“It definitely made me a little more marketable I’m sure,” Marzolla said with a laugh. “But I think now people are starting to see that I can actually fight.”
Her entrance into the fight game actually game via high school wrestling, as Marzolla participated on Las Vegas High’s junior varsity team.
But her love for combat really developed after an unfortunate incident occurred.
“The real truth to how I got into fighting is I was a 20-year-old single mother and some robbers broke into my house,” Marzolla said. “I wanted to learn some self-defense so I met up with Master Toddy.”
The Muay Thai specialist took Marzolla under his wing and “thought I had potential I guess,” she said.
That’s where Marzolla met up with arguably the world’s most famous female fighter in Gina Carano. The two became friends and traveled to Thailand for a Muay Thai fight.
Marzolla, who is 9-3 in Muay Thai, hasn’t fought in three years. She had a baby and also had to recover from tore ligaments in her ankle that she suffered in her last Muay Thai fight, a loss at the Bellagio.
“I’m so excited to finally be healthy again and ready to fight,” Marzolla said.
Marzolla, says that she and Carano, who will be cornering her friend tonight, and Kim Couture are more than just pretty faces in sport that feeds on aggression.
“I would never judge a book by its cover,” Marzolla said. “These days a lot of people could really surprise you in the fight game. You really have to be careful who you pick on. That’s the attitude I approach my opponents with and I hope they approach me the same way.”
True to its namesake, The Orleans gives visitors a year-round Mardi Gras feeling with a New Orleans French Quarter environment.
Located just a short way from the center of gambling on the Strip, The Orleans offers a collection of attractions that helps to draw in a mix of locals and visitors.
In addition to the 1,885 hotel rooms and 134,000-square foot casino, the property has a 70-lane bowling center, an 18-screen movie theater, an 850-seat showroom and a 9,500-seat arena, home to the Las Vegas Wranglers hockey team.
The hotel also has 14 dining options, including Canal Street, The Prime Rib Loft, Koji Sushi Bar & China Bistro and Big Al’s Oyster Bar.