Cage fighting Showdown at Hinton's Sugar Creek Casino Saturday 

click to enlarge JERRY L SMITH
  • Jerry L Smith

When some of the region’s top professional and amateur mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters face off at Sugar Creek Showdown (SCS) 26: Legacy at Hinton’s Sugar Creek Casino on Saturday, Glen Coleman will likely smile with satisfaction.

In six years, Coleman, the casino’s general manager and fight promoter, has grown the SCS brand from a fledgling fighting series created in 2009 to give local fighters a chance to break into MMA into what it is today: one of the nation’s top minor league circuits attracting fighters from all over the world.

“It’s grown into something much bigger than we anticipated,” Coleman said. “Many world-ranked fighters have fought on our card.”

MMA veteran Jeremy Horn is no stranger to SCS. The 39-year-old from Cedar Rapids, Iowa won the SCS Light Heavyweight Championship in 2014 before losing it to Riverside, California pro Tony Lopez on March 28 during SCS 25: Apocalypse. Over his 19-year career, Horn has amassed a 91-22-5 record with 63 submissions. He fought in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) for years, including a win over legend Chuck Liddell via submission in 1999, and he has won multiple championships across many platforms.

Horn’s team, Salt Lake City-based Elite Performance, will have three fighters on the card for SCS 26, including Mitch Thompson (5-2), who will challenge Oklahoma City’s Jonathan Gary (9-3-2) for the SCS Pro Lightweight title in the main event.

The co-main event will pit two Oklahoma fighters — Muskogee’s Codale Ford (9-8) and Oklahoma City’s Kemmyelle Haley (7-2) — against each other for the SCS Pro Welterweight Championship. In all, 13 Oklahoma pro fighters will compete at SCS 26.

“Oklahoma does really well in MMA across the nation,” Coleman said. “A lot of that has to do with the strong Oklahoma wrestling background. Oklahoma produces some really good wrestlers.”

Another Elite Performance fighter, Salt Lake City’s Nick Burgos (9-3) will face Fort Smith, Arkansas fighter Demario Cade (2-1) for the SCS Pro Flyweight Championship, the third pro title fight on the card.

Currently, 22 pro and amateur bouts are scheduled for SCS 26, but Coleman said that number might decrease due to injuries between now and fight night.

“We have more fights on our card than most anyone does,” he said.

Through ranks

Sugar Creek Showdown began in 2009 as a way to bring affordable sports entertainment to western Oklahoma. A former pro boxing judge himself, Coleman took on the mantle of staging fights at Sugar Creek Casino rather than paying an outside promoter to do it.

“It costs a lot of money to put on these fights,” he said. “The fight brand was really set up for amateur fighters. It’s hard for them to get their first fight.”

The first SCS was staged outside on what was supposed to be a balmy fall afternoon, but the temperature dropped to 43 degrees the day of the event. Still, 400 spectators watched the Ice Age Cage Fight, and the legacy was born. An event center was built to stage the SCS indoors, and when that kept selling out, a new 1,200-seat event center was built and opened last year. Every SCS has a name, and SCS 26 is called Legacy, a salute to those who have fought for the brand over the years.

“Ninety percent of the fighters on this card have fought with us multiple times,” Coleman said.

Many SCS pro fighters have gone on to fight in the UFC or other major MMA organizations, and nearly all SCS female pro titleholders have been snatched up by bigger fight brands.

“We get calls from fighters all over the world, wanting to fight with us,” Coleman said. “We’re kind of like a farm team to the big leagues, but I would like to think at a pretty good level.”

Tickets for SCS 26: Legacy start at $25. For more information, call 877-930-7882 or visit sugarcreekcasino.com.

Print headline: Growing legacy, Sugar Creek Showdown 26: Legacy brings the region’s top pro and amateur MMA fighters to Hinton on Saturday.

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