FRESNO, Calif. – Call it the perfect storm or the stars aligning, but when Carlos Garcia and Eugene Cancino meet in the 559 Fights cage Friday, Dec. 12 at the Valdez Hall in Fresno, it will be the most meaningful fight in California amateur mixed martial arts history.
Two championships will be decided with just one fight.
“We had an opportunity to do something that no other promotion has been able to do in hosting the CAMO State Amateur Championship Finals,” said 559 Fights President Jeremy Luchau. “When we saw our current champ had won the SoCal regional and that Fresno’s Cancino had won the NorCal regional, it just made sense to try and make it something special.”
Garcia, the 559 Fights flyweight champion, will put his title on the line against Cancino, and both will compete for a CAMO State title in the 559 Fights 31 main event.
“Garcia versus Cancino is a truly unique bout, as it is for a State Title and the 559 Fights Title. Somehow, the stars aligned and the biggest regional bout also happens to be for the State Title,” CAMO President JT Steele said. “The bout will be electric in every way and represents the quality of MMA that 559 Fights promotes on a monthly basis. 559 Fights has become one of the most elite MMA events in the country and we are proud to work with them.”
Garcia (4-1) has won four straight bouts since opening his career in defeat. He defeated long-time 559 Fights champ Manuel Ruiz in June by split decision and then knocked off Heinrich Wassmer in the Southern California Regional Championships.
“I’m very excited for this fight because it will be my last amateur fight. The fact that I’ll be fighting for the State Title and defending my 559 Fights title at once makes me hungry for the win,” Garcia said. “I know very little about my opponent… just that he is a wrestler. At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter what I know about or what he does. I’ve been training hard for this fight and have my own game plan set up.”
Cancino has amassed a perfect 5-0 record since starting his career in 2013. He has won four fights in 2014, including a decision victory over Daniel Moore in the Northern California Regional Final.
“It feels good to be fighting in my hometown and to have the crowd supporting me. It’s a pretty big fight just because it’s two titles on the line, which makes the fight that much more exciting for me, my opponent and the crowd,” Cancino said. “My opponent is definitely tough. He seems like he’s a good wrestler and that’s where I think I match up with him. We both know what it’s like to grind it out and it should be a fun fight for us.”
Garcia and Cancino are also currently ranked first and second respectively in the CAMO State Rankings.
“This is really just the icing on the cake of a huge night of fights in Fresno. It’s an honor to host the CAMO State Finals and the very best amateur MMA athletes from around the state,” Luchau said. “Locally, we have a few fighters in the state finals and have a loaded undercard of talent as well.”
In the co-main event, Fresno middleweight Jesse James (6-1) defends his State Title against an opponent yet to be announced.
“The California State Championships is the most important amateur event in the sport of MMA, as it is the only true state championship in the country,” Steele said. “The state championships represents the best amateur fighters from a pool of more than 4,000 amateur athletes, the largest amateur program in the world. Athletes are selected to compete in the tournament by algorithmic computer program which intelligently mines data to identify the best talent.”
Here is a look at the rest of the tournament field;
559 Fights lightweight champion Luis Vargas (8-2) drops to featherweight to compete with La Habra’s Jacob Rosales (7-0) for the 145-pound state title.
Milpitas bantamweight Isaiah Gonzalez (9-5-1) vs. Orange’s Edgar Gonzalez (6-2) for the 135-pound state title.
Stockton light heavyweight Oscar Castro (4-1) vs. Los Angeles’ Osman Diaz (5-2) for the 205-pound ttate title.
San Jose lightweight JJ Okanovich (9-3) vs. Covina’s Javier Garcia (7-3) for the 155-pound state title.
Pleasanton cruiserweight William Smith (3-0) vs. Pico Rivera’s Michael Quintero (3-0) for the 230-pound state title.
Salinas welterweight Alex Lopez (11-3) vs. San Bernardino’s Mathew Arriola (6-0) for the 170-pound state title.
Cardiff by the Sea heavyweight Scott Steele vs. North Hollywood’s Segio Marroquin (5-0-1) for the 265-pound state title.
“CAMO is proud to bring the State Championship Finals to Fresno and the Central Valley. The Central Valley has become of the most active MMA communities in the country and deserves to host the 2014 California State Championships, because of the quality of athletes that call central California home and for the dedicated fans that support local fighters on a regular basis,” Steele said. “When thinking about all the great regional MMA hotspots in the country, the Central Valley of California is as hot as it gets.”
559 Fights will also host six action-packed undercard bouts.
Tickets for this event start at just $20 and can be purchased at the Fresno Convention Center Box Office.
Official weigh-ins will be Thursday, Dec. 11 at the Holiday Inn Fresno Airport starting at 6 p.m.