Long before Barry Meyer was a member of martial arts’ Masters Hall of Fame, the tae kwon do black belt was a fight fan, and he remembers fondly Nov. 12, 1993 – the day the Ultimate Fighting Championship held its first event and revolutionized modern combat sports.
Now 17 years to the day after that landmark event, Meyer is celebrating the anniversary of the birth of MMA by once again bringing the sport’s brightest amateur prospects together for another action-packed night of fighting.
The president of Las Vegas’ Tuff-N-Uff Fighting Championships, Meyer is proud to announce Tuff-N-Uff’s return to the Orleans Hotel & Casino’s Mardi Gras Ballroom in Las Vegas on Friday, Nov. 12.
The ladies take center stage on Nov. 12, and Tuff-N-Uff kicks off an eight-woman female tournament that culminates in February and sees the promotion crown its first-ever 145-pound female champion.
Fans from around the globe can watch the fights live at GoFightLive.com or TuffNUff.net, while highlights of the action air in more than 47 million homes across the nation on Tuff-N-Uff’s weekly highlights show on SportsSouth and Sun Sports.
Leading the 145-pound tournament field is early favorite Ronda Rousey (1-0). While the 23-year-old Rousey is still young in her mixed martial arts career, the two-time Olympic judoka carries high expectations. Owning some of the most impressive credentials in the history of U.S. judo, Rousey counts a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Games among her many accomplishments.
Rousey takes on gritty Team Quest product Autumn Richardson (3-1) in an opening round contest. The 27-year-old Richardson, a four-time Tuff-N-Uff veteran, carries a two-fight win streak to the ring in her bid for Tuff-N-Uff’s 145-pound crown.
On the opposite side of the bracket, undefeated 19-year-old prospect Taylor Stratford (5-0) stands poised as another likely contender. Since turning pro in November 2009, Stratford has reeled-off five-straight wins and is widely considered among the best 145-pound prospects in the nation.
Opposing Stratford is debuting Team Quest product Shauna Dugger (0-0). A boxing specialist, Dugger enters the matchup as the underdog, but her team warns opponents that underestimating her chances would be unwise.
The remainder of the eight-woman field will be announced in the coming weeks, but with four entrants already official, expect one of the most ambitious amateur tournaments ever held in the women’s 145-pound class.
“It’s amazing to see how for mixed martial arts has progressed in just 17 years,” Meyer said. “I remember watching the first UFC live on pay-per-view, and I knew immediately that I had to be involved in the sport.
“For mixed martial arts to now be attracting Olympic veterans at the amateur level just 17 years later shows how wonderful this sport is and how bright the future can be.”
Winners from the Nov. 12 tournament bouts return for the semifinals on Jan. 7, 2011, while the finals will be conducted on Feb. 11
In addition to the female tournament bouts, Tuff-N-Uff’s Nov. 12 event also hosts a number of intriguing matchups in the men’s division.
In middleweight action, Xtreme Couture’s Zach Conley (3-1) meets Wand Fight Team’s Matt Dahlkemper (3-0). A four-time Tuff-N-Uff veteran, Conley looks to rebound from the lone loss of his career, while Dahlkemper hopes to keeps his unblemished record intact in this contest of rival Las Vegas camps.
Meanwhile, Team Tompkins lightweight Jonathon Rodeffer (7-2) meets newcomer Shane Johnson (0-0) of Xtreme Couture in a battle of experience vs. highly-touted youth.
In addition to the night’s featured matchups, a full lineup of aspiring amateur fighters from some of the world’s top academies – including 10th Planet Riverside, Fasi/Drysdale, Legends MMA, Striking Unlimited, TapouT Las Vegas and Xtreme Couture – will compete at Tuff-N-Uff’s Nov. 12 event.