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T.J. Lavin’s road to recovery leads to MMA commentating opportunity

Lopez vs. Buchholz headlines inaugural Superior Cage Combat event this weekend

St. PETrick's Day fundraiser

Steve Marcus

T.J. Lavin and his fiance Roxane Siordia play with “Nelson,” a 2-year-old, short-haired chihuahua, during a St. PETrick’s Day fundraiser at Aliante Station in North Las Vegas Sunday, March 20, 2011. Proceeds from the fundraiser benefited The Animal Foundation.

If You Go

  • What: Superior Cage Combat 1
  • When: Saturday, May 21, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Bally's Event Center
  • Tickets: $35 to $125 Purchase Tickets

The BMX track T.J. Lavin built in his backyard currently serves as an everyday reminder of his limitations.

Lavin, the Las Vegas native BMX pro who suffered critical injuries in a competition at the Hard Rock Hotel last year, has only been able to watch his friends use the course since he returned home from the hospital last November.

“I see the guys coming over and getting practice in,” Lavin said. “I see them ride and it really, really makes me miss it.”

The 34-year old Lavin spent nearly two weeks in a medically-induced coma after his crash produced internal bleeding in his brain in addition to a fractured orbital and a broken wrist.

Lavin hopes he’ll ride his bike again someday, but he’s found a way to stay involved with a different sport in the meantime. Lavin will work as a mixed martial arts commentator for Superior Cage Combat, a new local fight promotion that will hold its first event Saturday night at the Bally’s Event Center.

“When I first woke up, I couldn’t even tie my shoe or tell you three animals,” Lavin says of when he first got out of his coma. “To be where I am today, I am so stoked. To have the opportunity now to commentate on one of the best action sports, it means a lot to me.”

Lavin is a long-time MMA enthusiast. He said he remembered watching a tape of UFC 1 from 1993 while in high school.

He previously called action for a Tuff-N-Uff event and has become friends with plenty of fighters around town, which led him into the Superior Cage Combat gig.

“It’s a great sport,” Lavin said of MMA. “Aside from my sport, it’s my favorite sport. I’ve been a fan my whole life, ever since I can remember watching sports, and I think it’s evolving and going in the right direction. I think it’s becoming more well-respected.”

Because of the way he follows MMA, Lavin said he had a lot of appreciation for the card Superior Cage Combat was able to put together for its inaugural event. Three of the four fighters appearing in the headlining bouts have UFC experience.

The Main Event features lightweights Steve Lopez (12-4-1) and Justin Buchholz (9-6). Buchholz had a five-fight run in the UFC, going 1-4, before getting cut.

Click to enlarge photo

Justin Buchholz poses during an official weigh-in for UFC 109 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center Friday, February 5, 2010. STEVE MARCUS / LAS VEGAS SUN

Lopez went 0-2 in the UFC. He lost via TKO to Jim Miller when he suffered a dislocated shoulder in their middle of their UFC 103 fight and then dropped a close split decision to Waylon Lowe at UFC 119.

“Steve Lopez doesn’t deserve to be out of the UFC in my mind,” Lavin said. “At the end of the day, I’m like, 'Dude, you shouldn’t have even had the chance to get him.’”

Lopez is the kind of fighter Ryan Langmaid, Superior Cage Combat founder and promoter, wants to build his shows around.

Langmaid plans to hold up to six events a year in Las Vegas, where he lives and trains, and also a few in his hometown of Des Moines, Iowa.

“I basically decided if we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it right,” Langmaid said. “I want fights that are exciting for me and where people know they are going to get something to watch. I want to guarantee it.”

Langmaid said it was an easy decision to bring Lavin aboard. Some of Langmaid’s partners are good friends with Lavin, who automatically brings attention to the events.

Lavin has done plenty of work in television, notably hosting MTV shows for the last six years. Although Saturday’s card will only be released on DVD, Langmaid said Superior Cage Combat was in conversation with several channels to air future shows.

“I think it’s great to have T.J.,” Langsmaid said. “He’s had an amazing recovery. I’m sure it took a lot of hard work.”

Lavin is still in the recovery process. His spirits couldn’t be any better.

Lavin attributes at least a part of that to MMA.

“To be involved with this is awesome,” Lavin said. “I think it’s going to be a great place to start, an organization to start people’s careers and get them where they want to be.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at

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