by Felix Falcon
When the UFC came to Fairfax this past April, it did not showcase any local fighters on the card. The Promoters at Strike Off Fighting Championships have taken it upon themselves to make sure not only that local fighters have an avenue to break into the UFC ranks the next time they come around, but also to convince the big show to come to Virginia more than once every two and a half years, as it has since 2010.
One of the biggest ways they are trying to move towards that goal is by hosting their first show, this Saturday, October 3rd, at the EagleBank Arena, the same venue the UFC uses when they come to the State. Even though the newly renamed arena, formerly known as the Patriot Center, is a big step up in size from the promotion’s previous venues, it is a move that seems natural. Strike Off held their first three cards at The Palace in Woodbridge, an ironically named small nightclub venue, then held its last two events at the mid-sized Northern Virginia Community College’s Ernst Cultural Center. Now they are graduating to the big George Mason University stage.
Strike Off 6 will be the first, in what hopefully becomes a string of big events under the bright lights of the EagleBank Arena since the days of the Ultimate Warrior Challenge. UWC put on six cards there between 2008 and 2010, and it was instrumental in building a scene big enough for the UFC to start coming through these parts. It did so by showcasing top local talents along with what would become a ton of current and former UFC talents like John Dodson, Brendan Schaub, Cody Donovan, Felice Herrig, Ron Stallings, Antwain Britt, and Kris McCray.
Fittingly, Kris McCray will be making his return to where his pro career started and is slated to be a part of the Strike Off 6 main event. The 34 year-old will be coming off a two-year layoff to fight against a young Michigan fighter named William Ward. Ward has gone 1-1 this year, with his most recent win coming against VA Pro, Brad Mountain. At 5-5, Ward will be looking to try to earn a big win over not only a UFC vet, but someone who has essentially fought in every big MMA organization of the last five years. McCray, on the other hand, will be looking to get back into action and prove that he has another run at the highest levels of competition.
The co-main event will have Kaizen MMA’s Najim Wali against another Michigander, Derrick Weaver. “The Afghan Rock” or as his teammates refer to him, Sensei Najim, has a handful of top-notch opponents in his resume, including UFC fighters Matt Van Buren, Chris Dempsey, and recently crowned Bellator Light Heavyweight champ, Liam McGeary. He went 2-0 in 2014 and will be getting back in the cage for the first time this year. Weaver, who is coming down to the 205 lb. division after taking on much larger opponents, will have a 2-inch height advantage on Wali. None of Weaver’s 5 Pro fights, win or lose, have ended in decisions, and we don’t expect this fight to go to the judges scorecards either.
The card will feature a ton of other exciting Strike Off vets like Martin Davila, Ahmet Kayretli, Samir Farid, Chris Rollins, Kevin Chung, Brandon Mason, and Elijah Gbollie. It will also feature the Pro debut of Kaizen’s Alexander Olave and Zamora Boxing Gym’s Roque Zapata.
In the case of Kaizen’s Kevin Chung and Gold Medal Grappling’s Samir Farid, they will both not only be fighting close to home, both GMU attendees will also be fighting in front of a large contingency of their student body.
It is evident that Strike Off not only has the goal of stepping into the void that UWC left five years ago, they are putting a solid card and game plan in motion to make sure that local, regional, and fighters from all over have an opportunity to compete and build themselves into the big league fighters of the future.
Tickets for the event are still available at Ticketmaster.com.
The internet pay per view stream for the event will be broadcast through GFL.tv.
Check out the full card and make your fight predictions on the Strike Off 6 Tapology event page.
For more information, you can go to Strikeoff.com.