Local MMA fighters to compete at Team USA vs. Team Japan event
Four local amateur MMA fighters will be on the undercard of Sovereign Valor on Saturday, Jan. 28 at The Pavilion at Coushatta Casino Resort in Kinder, La. at 7:30 p.m.
A full card of 10 fights are scheduled headlined by four professional MMA bouts titled as Team USA vs. Team Japan, but before they take to the cage, its the amateurs that will get to showcase their skills and four local fighters, three from American Top Team-Beaumont and one from Texas Punishment Crew, will compete.
From ATT-Beaumont, Will Spidle will fight Dat Tran at flyweight (125 pounds), Martin Walker vs. Mike Bruno at catchweight (140 pounds) and Ryan Spann faces off against Corey Manuel at middleweight (185 pounds).
“This is great exposure,” said ATT-Beaumont head trainer Mike Berryhill. “There will be a lot of people in the crowd so it’s a great chance for these guys to show off their skills.”
Spidle, 22, last fought in October and won a 125-pound title at Cage Chaos in Livingston. “Will has been working a lot on wrestling and grappling skills this camp,” said Berryhill. “His opponent is a good one. Tran has a good arsenal of Muay Thai skills.”
Tran trains at Gladiator Academy in Lafayette, La. under UFC fighter “Crazy” Tim Credeur, who will also be the honorary team captain for Team USA.
Walker’s opponent, Mike Bruno, also trains at Gladiator Academy. “Martin is one of our hardest working fighters,” said Berryhill. “He’s had to start training camp three times over the last few months only to have his fights canceled due to an opponent pulling out at the last minute. He’s anxious to get back in the cage.”
Spann, 20, won the 185-pound title in Cage Chaos after defeating Ralph Garcia last year. “Ryan’s mind is finally maturing and catching up with his body,” said Berryhill. “He will be fighting a guy who has a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, so he’s probably going to try to take Ryan to the ground.”
Montgomery, 21, trains under Jason Ebarb at Texas Punishment Crew in Beaumont. He will tangle with Nkosi Campbell of Alexandria, La.
The four professional fights are Eric Scallan (8-3) vs. Yoshihito Kuroki (2-1-4), Lewis McKenzie (12-9) vs. Tashiro Nishiuchi (16-7), Derek Campos (8-2) vs. Kota Okazawa (105-4) and the main event pits Bellator veteran Adam Schindler (9-3) of Houston vs. Yoshiaki Takahashi (7-1-2).
Schindler, of Houston, is currently on the Bellator roster while Campos has experience in the Shark Fights organization.
This will mark the first time that any of the four Japanese fighters will have fought in the United States and each one currently competes in the highly touted Pancrase organization in Japan.
“We saw that no one in MMA had ever put together like this,” said John Largent, of G1 Fights. “You have an entire team of world class athletes from Japan coming over to the United States for the first time to fight. We thought this was the right time to do it. These guys are super excited about coming over here to fight. They have never competed in the United States.”
Fight fans will certainly see a contrast of styles between Team Japan and Team USA. “They use a lot of grappling,” said Berryhill of the Japanese fighters. “Look for a lot of Judo techniques and great leg locks.”
The honorary captain for Team Japan will be Ken Yasuda, who is known as the “Japanese Arnold Schwarzenegger” due to his success as a bodybuilder. He was also the head coach of the Tokyo Sabres of the International Fight League.
“We will have two ring announcers as well,” added Largent. One of those ring announcers will be Shoichi Funaki, who is a former WWE superstar under the ring name of Funaki. “What a lot of people may not realize is the fact that Funaki started out his career as a shoot fighter,” said Largent. “We are super excited to have him take part in this event.”
Tickets for Sovereign Valor can be purchased at the Coushatta Casino Resort for $200, $85, $65, $40, $30 or online at ticketmaster.com. The event is open to all ages.