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MMA, boxing worlds collide for West Coast fighters

Vargas in Studio

Former World Champion Boxer and current Promoter Fernando Vargas joins Alex Adeyanju to talk about the Worlds Collide event going on on Saturday.

Worlds Collide $175,000 Tournament Boxing & MMA Quarterfinals #1

7 p.m. Sat., Feb. 14, 2009
Buffalo Bill’s Star of the Desert Arena

Blue Corner   Red Corner
MMA 3x3 – 180 pounds – Bout 8
Jorge Lopez; Las Vegas, Nev.; 3-1 vs. Brent Cooper; Irvine, Calif.; 4-0
Boxing 4 Rounds- 162 pounds – Bout 7
Herman Scott; Las Vegas, Nev.; 2-0 vs. Thomas Rittenbaugh; Las Vegas, Nev.; 3-2-2
MMA 3x3 - 155 pounds – Bout 6
Dustin Phillips; Las Vegas, Nev.; 3-1 vs. Jorge Molina; Las Vegas, Nev.; 2-0
Boxing 4 Rounds - 142 pounds – Bout 5
Ignacio Garcia; Riverside, Calif.; 2-0 vs. Isauro Tapia; Huntington Park, Calif.; 1-0
MMA 3x3 - 155 pounds – Bout 4
Dominic Verdugo; Victorville, Calif.; 5-3 vs. Fernando Bernstien; Aliso Viejo, Calif.; 2-0
Boxing 4 Rounds - 142 pounds – Bout 3
Horacio De Santiago; Riverside, Calif.; Debut vs. Yakub Shideav; Northridge, Calif.; Debut
MMA 3x3 Rounds - 135 pounds – Bout 2
Sidemar Honorio; Huntington Beach, Calif.; 3-0 vs. Martin Bautista; Irvine, Calif.; 6-4
Boxing 4 rounds - 132 pounds – Bout 1
David Yanez; Las Vegas, Nev.; Debut vs. Richard Ellis; Los Angeles, Calif.; 2-1

Like many of the fighters taking part in tonight’s unique mixed martial arts and boxing card at Buffalo Bill’s in Primm, Las Vegas native Jorge Molina grew up a boxing fan.

“My dad got me into it at 8 and I’ve been training every since. Boxing is my favorite sport, but MMA is a close second,” Molina said.

The Green Valley High School alum will get to see the best of both worlds tonight at the Star of the Desert Arena when he takes part in the dual-sport event appropriately titled “Worlds Collide.”

“I’m super excited for this one,” said Molina, who takes his 2-0 MMA record as a 155-pounder into a bout against Kansas native Dustin Phillips, also a former pugilist.

“Boxing and MMA together in such a unique format, I think people are gonna come out and support it. I know as soon as my fight ends, I’m gonna be watching all the other ones.”

That’s exactly the sentiment new promoter and former world champion boxer Fernando Vargas is hoping fans bring to the eight-bout show.

“St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. You got the best of both worlds,” said Vargas, who is co-promoting the event with Roy Englebrecht. “You got a boxing fight, then an MMA fight, a boxing fight, then an MMA fight.”

Another Las Vegas native, David Yanez, will stick strictly to the conventional prize fighting as he makes his pro debut.

“I feel real excited that they gave me the opportunity to make my debut on this type of card,” said the 19-year-old who attended Valley High.

The 132-pounder admitted he doesn’t know much about his opponent, Richard Ellis (2-1), from Los Angeles.

“My strength is my jab and I plan on using it a lot,” said Yanez, who has been boxing for four years. “Of course I’ll have to try to mix in some power punches and put on a good show.”

The Worlds Collide matchmakers tried to mix Nevada natives against their California counterparts whenever possible.

“It’s an exciting concept, kind of an extra storyline,” said Yanez, who was born in Los Angeles but moved to Las Vegas when he was 5. “I fought quite a few guys from California as an amateur and they are pretty tough.”

Vargas, who retired in 2007 after losing to Ricardo Mayorga, said the call to be involved with MMA was not a difficult one.

“Of course I love boxing. How do you think I got all these scars on my face?” Vargas said with a big smile.

“But I love to see a street fight and that’s what MMA is, is a legalized street fight.”

Today's event might be based on love, but Vargas made a humorous plea to fans to make the short trek outside the city to come and see the first quarterfinal of a six-show series.

“The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. We’re bringing them something that’s never been done before on the big stage,” Vargas said.

“So take your wife, your girlfriend, your mistress, whatever it is, go and watch a rumble downstairs. Then go upstairs with your sweetheart or significant other and have another rumble on St. Valentine’s Day.”

Andy Samuelson can be reached at [email protected] or 702-948-7837.

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