Sunday, May 31, 2009 | 1 a.m.
LaTasha Marzolla got two of her three wishes granted Saturday night at the Orleans Arena.
She won her pro mixed martial arts debut and was rewarded with a vodka cocktail after her first-round victory over Christy Tada at the all day Tuff-N-Uff extravaganza.
But the whole fixing her face thing might take a little time to get right.
“You look fine, just put some cool glasses on,” said good friend and top female fighter Gina Carano as the two celebrated in the locker room afterwards.
Despite a couple of cuts and swelling on her face, Marzolla — who covered up a bit under an over-sized white hat — was more excited about how well her debut went than how she looked.
“It was really crazy after taking three years off. I had a lot of nerves, a lot of anxiety,” said Marzolla, who had lost her last sanctioned fight a Muay Thai affair three years ago at the Bellagio. “I couldn’t sleep at all last night.
“It was hard getting back out there, kind of a battle within myself. But no matter how hard it was I was going to make it through it.”
She did although she had a couple of facial bruises to prove it after Tada tagged her in the early going. Tada, who fights for the Hawaiian Fighting Arts, pushed the action, rushing Marzolla from the onset. The two exchanged for several seconds. Marzolla was hit a few times cleanly, but then delivered several blows herself. The second time the two exchanged a confident Marzolla clearly had control as she roughed up Tada.
The two exchanged one last time in the opening round, and blow by Marzolla did significant damage as Tada’s corner stopped the fight before the second-round bell.
“It was better than I thought because I’ve never seen a crowd stand up like that. Even though it was hard in the fight, the crowd’s energy empowered me to dig deep down,” said Marzolla, who plans to fight on Tuff-N-Uff’s all-female card in July.
“I want to take this as far as I can and be champ.”
Carano said she was proud of her friend for not only showing the strength to get back in the ring after her long break from fighting when she had a daughter two years ago, but also the character to prove people wrong that Marzolla is “just another pretty face.
“It takes a certain type of individual to get in there in the first place, but then to have the extra pressure of being a pretty girl is really tough,” said Carano of Marzolla, who was Playboy’s special editions model of the year in 2004.
“I used to get so mad when people would tell her she’s so beautiful and why is she fighting. But she taught me that you got to push that all aside and still get in there and fight. It was obvious to me that she was able to get rid of all the distractions and just went in there and fought.”
While the crowd wasn’t on his side nearly as much as they were on Marzolla’s, Larry Mir, the cousin of UFC interim heavyweight champ Frank Mir, also had a successful MMA debut when he defeated Samual Varrin by split decision.
The fight was a technical one as Mir won the first-round with some well-timed striking and ground action, but became a technical defensive fighter over the second and third stanzas.
“I think he did extremely well with the pressure of being his first fight, and on the main card, and obviously the name thing,” said Frank Mir with a laugh.
“Maybe he could have let loose and ended with a kill at the end, but that’s something he can work on. But he fought very smart and technical, which is very hard to do your first fight.”
The two debuts highlighted the night's main event, which also featured Sam Collinwood stopping Croatian giant Tomsilav Lorber with strikes in the second round. The night show opened with a five fight Mexico-U.S. event, with the Americans winning every match.
Tuff-N-Uff started the day at high noon with 25 open invitational fights set up on two rings inside the Orleans arena, before later downsizing to the one ring for the main event.
"It was really interesting to have the two rings going simultaneously, it was a bunch of fun," Tuff-N-Uff president Barry Meyer said of the all-day event. "I think it really helped to erase the stigma that goes along with cagefighting. I think we showed a lot of people in the crowd that this is a respectable and legitimate sport. I really loved it."
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.