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MMA Fight Showcases Locals, Emphasizes Charity

Santa Cruz fighter Dustin Moore looks to win the rubber match against Jose Marin at the Santa Cruz Civic on Saturday.

A roster of local MMA fighters wil meet in the ring this weekend for charity bouts aimed at teaching people about the sport and building community.

Just days from his first cage fight in Santa Cruz, Dustin Moore said he is not yet anxious. The nerves haven’t kicked in yet, but he expects them before he steps into the cage as part of the co-main event on Saturday for the “Showdown in Surftown”, Santa Cruz’s first mixed martial arts event.

Maybe he shouldn’t be nervous; he’s done this before. Seven times to be exact, totaling a 4-3 amateur record--but he’s never fought in his home town and never with as many supporters in the crowd as he will have on Saturday night at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium.

“There’s a lot more pressure on me being in my hometown. Especially with all my friends and family,” said Moore. 

“It’s different being on my home turf – I feel like all eyes are on me.”

Santa Cruz is no stranger to mixed martial arts. Two professional MMA fighters, Luke Rockhold and Gray Maynard call Santa Cruz home and are widely considered top ten fighters in the world at their respective weight classes (Rockhold was born in Santa Cruz).

Several local fighters—Santa Cruz residents Marco Del Real, 24, Dustin Moore, 22, and Vyas Noel, 22; and Thomas Demma, 28, of Boulder Creek—are fighting in the inaugural “Showdown” event, which could go a long way toward furthering Santa Cruz’s reputation as an MMA hotbed.

Moore, a 22-year-old Harbor High graduate from Santa Cruz who attends Cabrillo College, will take on Jose Marin of Salinas in the nine-fight event which features fighters and gyms from throughout the Bay Area. 

Both fighters are familiar with each other, they split two fights in 2010. Moore has since gone 3-2 with Marin going 4-0, his last loss coming to Moore by way of submission in October of 2010. 

“He’s got quick hands, technical hands,” said Moore of his opponent, “he's been boxing since he was a kid.” 

Moore trains at Farley’s Kickboxing Academy is Soquel, where owner Francis Farley preaches an aggressive style which he used himself to win North American and World middleweight kickboxing titles.

“I try to make them aggressive,” said Farley, who notched 17 knockouts as a kick boxer.

“Make them fight you; not you fighting them,” he said, “if they’re thinking about blocking, they can’t be punching,”

Mixed martial arts involves more than kickboxing however, it’s a combination of different skills and techniques that breeds success. Moore’s typical work week involves four to six hours of training per day, six days a week in everything from kickboxing to wrestling to jui-jitsu. Then there’s lifting weights and endurance training. 

“I feel like cardio is everything,” said Moore, who’s been purposefully seeking out the most difficult workouts he can find. He said he doesn’t particularly enjoy them (running the stairs at Seacliff beach, for instance) but takes pride in putting himself through the hard work. 

“It’s the cardio that puts you in the ‘puke zone’ that makes you walk away and not want to do it anymore.”

“Showdown in Surftown” is presented by Farley’s Kickboxing Academy and local nonprofit Grind Out Hunger which will have Second Harvest Food Bank donation barrels on hand during the event. 

Tickets are available at santacruztickets.com at $24.50 and $34.50. The Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium will also sell tickets the day of the event. 

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