Two champs headline Rumble at the Roseland 54

Heavyweight champion Damion Martindale faces heavyweight champion Kevin Fox at the Roseland Theater on Saturday, Jan. 22.

Heavyweight champion Damion Martindale faces heavyweight champion Kevin Fox at the Roseland Theater on Saturday, Jan. 22.

The FCFF has hosted over 75 mixed-martial arts events throughout Oregon, but tomorrow night’s Rumble at the Roseland 54 is a shaping up to be a truly special event.

Heavyweight champion Damion Martindale will attempt to make FCFF history by being the first fighter to simultaneously hold belts in two different weight classes. Martindale will drop down from heavyweight (235 lbs) to lightweight (205 lbs) when he faces Kevin Fox for his lightweight championship on Saturday night. It’s a match-up that has local MMA enthusiasts chomping at the bit.

“I can’t wait for [tomorrow night’s event]—especially the title fight,” Brian Toogood, a recent Portland State graduate and a local MMA fan, said. “The Rumble at the Roseland shows are always a good time, but in my opinion, it’s just a little more exciting when the big guys bang.”

Martindale has a reputation as a hard-hitter with a strong wrestling background. He became the heavyweight champion back in August at Rumble at the Roseland 53 after defeating Eli Pauls in the second round via tapout, and then successfully defended his title in November, beating Paul Haasslan at Caged at the Coast 3. Moving between weight classes can be a challenging venture, but Martindale is excited for the opportunity.

“We’re up here for the entertainment of the people,” Martindale said. “It feels great—there’s not a better feeling in the world.”

Lightweight champion Fox has yet to defend his title since winning the belt over seven months ago at Rumble at the Roseland 52, but the champion is a dangerous fighter with knockout power in both hands. Fox’s last two victories were both flash knockouts early in the first round, so expect the main event to deliver some fireworks.

The under card will feature plenty of must-see bouts as well, including some top-talent from the female division. Rising MMA star Emily Whitmire will meet up with world-class rugby player Robin Woods. Whitmire is a spunky young athlete, who has absolutely dominated her last two opponents, earning her a record of 2-1 in the cage. She has the potential to become a very successful and marketable fighter on the professional level.

“It’s been a lot of fun, and a lot of work,” said Whitmire of her MMA experience thus far. “I just want to work as hard as I can to get better and maybe go pro within a couple years.”

However, Whitmire’s opponent tomorrow night is no stranger to contact sports. Woods was the captain of the Reed College rugby team, and has recently been selected to represent the USA mixed team for the Touch Rugby world cup in Scotland in 2011. Currently, Woods’ focus has been on MMA.

“I’m wanting to be well-rounded, so [I’ve] been working both ground and stand-up,” said Woods. “I’d love to get a few more fights in, get a title shot and maybe go pro.”

All the fighters competing tomorrow evening will step into the cage with amateur status—meaning none of the fighters will be getting paid. Fortunately for the fighters, the FCFF is the top promotion for local amateur MMA talent to develop their craft and make a name for themselves.

“The [UFC] doesn’t just want anybody off the streets coming in and considering themselves a pro fighter,” said Kevin Keeney, promoter and co-owner of the FCFF.

Keeney owns the promotion with longtime friend and UFC top-contender Chael Sonnen, who advises fans to act fast if they want to come be a part of what will surely be an exciting evening of mixed-martial arts action.

“Get your tickets early, because they don’t last long,” Sonnen said. ?

Correction: In Friday’s article “Two champs headline Rumble at the Roseland 54,” the Vanguard incorrectly stated that Full Contact Fighting Federation heavyweight champion Damion Martindale was vying to make history as the first FCFF fighter to simultaneously hold belts in different weight classes. This feat had already been accomplished in 2006, when Scott “The School Teacher” Trayhorn held both the middleweight and welterweight belts. The Vanguard regrets the error.