Three local mixed martial arts fighters will compete for the title in their respective divisions at the Battle at Bellingham at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 22, at the Bellingham Sportsplex. For one of them, the fight has a little more meaning.
Twenty-five-year-old Clayton Hoy, who trains with Bellingham MMA, gets to fight in front of his father for the first time since he started training. Since Hoy started fighting competitively in October 2013, his father has been travelling to the Phillipines.
"He's a big fight fan and he hasn't got to see any of my fights yet, so I'm excited that he'll be there," the undefeated fighter said.
Hoy and fellow Bellingham MMA trainee Lyndon Hirai are the first fighters from the gym to compete for a title. Cagewars MMA/Ax Fighting present the titles, which are both vacant going into the fights.
Hoy will take on Mason Anderson, another Bellingham-area fighter, for the 185-pound title at Battle at Bellingham. Though he has only been fighting for a few months, Hoy earned a title fight by making quick work of his opponents thus far.
Hoy, who is 3-0, described himself as a good grappler, who looks to get on top of an opponent to finish them off. He excels on the ground thanks to his "dynamic" submissions, he said.
"If I see a neck or a limb, I dive on it," Hoy said. "I'm very forward and aggressive."
Though he is very confident going into the fight, Hoy has a difficult test to defeat Anderson. Anderson, who is 5-1 and has been fighting since 2009, is known as a heavy puncher with good ground and pound, Hoy said.
"He punched a dude's ear off," Hoy said.
"The top of his ear was hanging on by like a flap of skin," Bellingham MMA coach Jeremy Saunders added.
Despite the daunting task of fighting a hard hitter, Hoy thinks he is the more skilled fighter.
"The only place I don't want to be in this fight is on my back with him on top of me," Hoy said. "As long as I'm not being punched in the head on the floor, I think I'm going to be good."
Hoy wrestled for a year as a sophomore at Nooksack Valley High School, growing up in Everson, but back then he was only 103 pounds. Now fighting in the 185-pound division, Hoy regularly weighs about 207 pounds. He cuts weight to make the 185-pound mark, then tries to gain most of it back before his fight the next day.
Hirai, who is the third Bellingham-based fighter, is fighting for the 135-pound title. The 28-year-old Hirai grew up in the Tri-Cities area, but relocated to Bellingham to attend Western Washington University. The 4-2 Hirai takes on Kevin Hickson from Spokane for the title.
"(Hickson) looks like he's a pretty athletic, scrappy little guy," Hirai said. "Watching his most recent fight, he isn't too comfortable standing up; I think my stand-up game is a little bit better, and even my ground game is a little more technical."
A wrestler in high school, Hirai is most comfortable on the ground, he said.
Hirai's last fight was in November, but it was made a kickboxing match after his opponent failed to obtain a state fighting license. Being forced to stand and trade punches and kicks took Hirai out of his usual gameplan of taking down his opponent, but he said it made him a better fighter.
"It just kind of got my confidence up a little more because I had to stand," Hirai said. "I'm actually going to try to stand and bang with (Hickson) a little bit."
Hirai was excited for the Bellingham fight because he gets to bring a few friends to the fight. He plans to have about 8-10 of his friends in the crowd on Saturday.
The 135-pound title that Hirai is competing for was held by current UFC flyweight champion Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson when he was an amateur, Saunders said.
The first fight of the Battle at Bellingham begins at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 20, at the Bellingham Sportsplex. Tickets are available when doors open at 7 p.m. for $35.
Reach Alex Peterson at email@example.com or 360-715-2285.
Cagewars MMA/Ax Fighting Battle at Bellingham
Where: Bellingham Sportsplex
Time: Doors at 7 p.m. Event begins at 8 p.m.
Cost: $35 at the door
Battle at Bellingham Fight Card
Weight Fight Type Fighters
185 MMA Title Clayton Hoy vs. Mason Anderson
145 MMA Title Jeremie Montgomery vs. Talon Hammons
135 MMA Title Lyndon Hirai vs. Kevin Hickson
155 MMA John Keay vs. Wyatt Gonzales
135 Muay Thai Clinton Jenkins vs. Terrence Vilovia
140 MMA Drew Oetgen vs. Trevor Salts
130 MMA Joey Elzea vs. Justin Hugo
140 MMA Tycen Lynn vs. Tyler Wood
150 Kickboxing Brett Malone vs. Gagan Gill
170 MMA Butch Zaccheo vs. Jim Barnes
125 MMA Hunter Clagett vs. Tyler Howell
130 Kickboxing Anthony Mendoza vs. Roy Williams
155 MMA Joe Rohweder vs. Aman Birk
160 MMA Zack Wilson vs. Brad Spencer