Thursday, March 30, 2017

UPDATE: A chat with MMA pro John Valentine; boxing card Saturday

BLOG UPDATED WITH INFO ABOUT SATURDAY'S BOXING CARD (See below) ... John Valentine, (above) is making a return to the cage Saturday, May 13, in Hurricane, Utah, against Jeff Carson as part of the South Valley Slam. We chatted with the undefeated fighter recently about training for the bout and other issues. We'll get back with John and other Slam competitors as the fight date draws nearer.

Former Hidden Valley MMA head coach John Valentine looks to extend his undefeated pro record as he faces facing his toughest competition to date, Jeff "The Hitman" Carson. Carson has three times as many fights and is 21 years younger. John will be 46 upon entering the cage in May. 

While he hasn't been in the cage since his TKO win of Curtis Coe over a year ago he has been anything but inactive. Since moving to Las Vegas he joined the Robert Drysdale team and since has won three expert division titles with the North American Grappling Association (NAGA), competed at the Jiu Jitsu World Championships and recently in November competed on national TV on CBS Sports in a submission-only match in the cage for Randy Couture's charity event in Las Vegas to benefit wounded veterans. 

John won that match in less than 90 seconds after two vicious body slams eventually sending his opponent to the hospital via inverted heel hook. At the Pan-American Jiu Jitsu championship games in Long Beach in March he took the bronze medal in the brown belt division against some of the best grapplers in the country. 

I spoke with him shortly and he seemed very excited about this upcoming match up against someone he respects and has known for years. "I have followed Jeff's career for years and know him personally. He's a true respectful warrior and will have a noticeable size advantage over me. He's a great person who brings his best to the cage each and every time and I'm excited and honored at the opportunity."

He added, "I normally lose 20 pounds for my fights so I'm actually excited to fight at 155," adding he'll be strong at that weight.

Following The Pan-American games in March John told me he will be dedicating and switching his training back to MMA and has already assembled a dream team of coaches to ensure he brings his A game to the table. "I sometimes laugh when people think my only style is grappling and while many of my fights have ended that way I started out as a Muay Thai- and wrestling-focused fighter in the early '90s and didn't switch to grappling till 1999." 

In speaking with him it was evident that he is very focused on proving the critics wrong once again. "Most of my jiu jitsu, judo or fighting titles happened after I was 35 and now at 46 I believe I can accomplish anything and that age is just a number if you put the work in. This fight will surely not want to be missed."

We wish John the best at the South Valley Slam. Besides him, we have interviews scheduled with competitors James Russell Francis, Daniel Stratton, Bryce Edminister and hope to log a couple more chats.


Saturday in Salt Lake City there is a Flash Newman-promoted card in Salt Lake City, Boxing at the Bend, at 1085 Winding River Cove West. The doors open at 7, and fights start at 8 p.m. The main event matches veteran pro Lorenzo Trejo with undefeated flyweight Damien Vasquez

Of more local interest is that a trio of undefeated local boxers, Larry Gomez, Ignacio Chairez, and Bladimir Estrada, are scheduled to fight. General admission seats are $30 and VIP Ringside $45. For information, call 801-949-8317.

Updated information March 31: Utah Fight Game blog has received the card for Saturday's fight night. Chairez fights Jorge Soto at 144 pounds (4 rounds), Estrada fights Britton Norwood at 178 pounds (4 rounds), Laurentino Enriquez fights Christian Aguirre at 155 pounds (4 rounds). And the main event between Vasquez and Trejo is 8 rounds.

Unfortunately, an opponent was unable to be found for undefeated Utah boxer Larry Gomez.

There are also six scheduled amateur fights. Of particular note, Ogden 120-pounder Diego Alvarez, who won the national Golden Gloves tourney in 2016, will be competing.

Another Salt Lake City fighter, Jose Haro, is slated to fight April 28 in Tijuana, Mexico.

Upcoming Utah boxing and MMA events can be found here.

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