House Of Pain 

Extreme fighting hits Boise

In The Karate Kid, the fight scenes were fun, but it was limited to karate fun. Billy Blanks is fun, too, but Tae Bo gets humdrum after a while. And Rocky himself had some bitchin' swings, but boxing in general would be better if kicking was fair game.

Apparently some other folks also thought these popular fighting styles needed a little something extra and created the Ultimate Fighting Challenge, which is a hybrid of various martial arts and fighting techniques blended into one nasty ass-kicking. The Extreme Fight Series (XFS) has the same rules and is pretty much the same kind of mixed martial arts as Ultimate Fighting.

Boise-based Knockout Promotions puts on Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fights in the XFS series, and they've got a furious event planned for this weekend. Unleashed Fury 2 is the sequel to Unleashed Fury, a fighting event earlier this year that entertained a sold-out crowd of 6,500.

Knockout Promotions General Manager Sean Roberts is expecting similar audience numbers for this follow-up.

"We did just boxing matches before, but we've evolved into the MMA because it's just become very popular," says Roberts. "Boxing has been pushed out and everyone wants to see cage fighting."

Sounds dangerous. Sounds grizzly. Sounds like there is potential for death in a no-holds-barred event in a cage.

"There are many rules these guys have to follow and there's a lot of sportsmanship. It's a sport, its not human cockfighting," says Roberts. "No one has died in MMA; more people have in boxing."

One of the rules, which is different from and more humane than the very first version of ultimate fighting that outraged senators and squeamish folk alike, is that a fighter can no longer kick a downed man or elbow someone in the back of the head. Phew.

According to Roberts, this kind of extreme combined fighting--specifically pro kickboxing and pro MMA--is a professional sport sanctioned by the State of Idaho as of January 2006. Knockout Promotions is candidly trying to spread the word around Boise that not only is it totally legal, it is also totally legitimate, like football or hockey or other sports where teeth can be lost and noses can bleed.

And though the athletes have their particular fortes, like jujitsu or wrestling, they practice and fight using all possible techniques, and matchmakers set up the pairings to make it an even match (much like Yenta in Fiddler on the Roof). "That's the great thing," says Roberts. "You can take all these martial arts to the ring and see which one works out best against another."

So the fighters are paired up to participate in one of 13 matches. Each match is essentially made up of three three-minute rounds, though there are some exceptions. And Boiseans can expect to see both local guys and world champions from around the globe kicking and swinging. "We've got guys coming form Norway, Brazil and Tokyo," says Roberts. "The majority of them will be fighting local people."

But don't get panicky, these locals aren't the regular schmoes you see on the Stairmaster next to you at the YMCA; some Idaho fighters are heavy duty, like Brandon "Big Dog" Shuey of Boise, who is matched up against Lee "Superstar" Anderson of Sun Valley. This is one of the most anticipated fights in Idaho history--they've been trying to fight each other for 10 years. I suppose they could have just duked it out at the Cactus Bar on any given Saturday night, but that way they wouldn't have been paid.

And there are female fighters, too. Idaho Falls native Amy Davis is one to watch--she's ranked sixth in the world in kickboxing and recently returned from a fight in Bangkok, Thailand, where she was runner-up for the Thailand National Title. Davis is slated to fight seven-time world champion Sumie Sakai from Japan.

Sakai, who weighs in at a wee 118 lbs. with a mere 5-foot, 1-inch frame, has become a huge celebrity in Japan in her near-ten-year professional fighting career. Sakai is making her U.S. fighting debut here in Boise, and she's expected to have a major international following after the bout with Davis.

"This fight is huge for Idaho--a once-in-a-lifetime treat," says Knockout Promotions President Kasey Thompson. "To have an international fighter of this caliber to choose Idaho over other major markets like Las Vegas or Los Angeles is a real testament to the growing (numbers of) fight fans here."  

The highlight of the night, the main event, is a square off between Dan "The Bull" Bobish of Cleveland, OH and Norway's Dan "The Decapitator" Evansen. These 300-plus-pound dudes are former UFC fighters and former King of the Cage champions, so they most definitely have a lot of fury to unleash.

Oct. 14, 7 p.m., $75, $50, $40, $30 and $20 tickets available, Qwest Arena, 233 S. Capitol Blvd., 424-2200. Call 331-TIXS for tickets.

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