On Saturday, the Frank Cochran center will be the sight of MMA cage-fighting, and some of those stepping into the ring are from right here in east mississippi.
Four local fighters from meridian's Gracie 601 gym will enter the ring during Saturday's "Rockin the Cochran" MMS event at the Frank Cochran center. Fighters Phillip Soriano and Ken Dubose are fighting at home for the first time.
"You know I got a lot of crowd. Lot of family coming home to see me fight," say Soriano "I got a lot of people... friends coming from out of town to watch the fight. We've sold a few tables and tickets already. So if you're looking for a good show. Regardless... we gotta get that win."
"Ah man, it feels great," say Dubose. "Everybody coming to watch me fight. Finally getting a chance to fight in front of the home crowd. I'm the main event! You know, i've got a lot of friends.. a lot of family coming in town to watch, so it's going to be exciting."
And while friends and family will certainly motivate the fighters Saturday, each was inspired to enter the world of mixed martial arts for a different reason.
"I've been fightin' for about three years now," says Soriano. "It's something i enjoy doing... an outlet for aggression. That sort of thing. Eleventh amateur fight. Looking for it to be a win. Hopefully, I can turn pro afterwards."
"I was real small when I was little, "says Dubose. "I tried karate or whatever... boxing when I was younger. You know, I had a lot of bigger kids that tried to pick on me or whatever. But I always wanted to learn how to defend myself. Just the same way I do with my kids. I'm going to teach them how to defend themselves."
Gym owner and former U.S. marine Paul Joyner is confident in all four of his fighters.
"I feel probably more confident than i should," say Joyner. "I watch them train, and i know how much they've put into it and everything, and I just can't see them losing."
Matt Hudson and Kazz Hill will also compete for Gracie 601. They and Dubose will headline the MMA event.
"Rockin the Cochran" begins at the Frank Cochran center at 7:00 pm. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. To get tickets, call 601-678-2007.