Woodward, Okla. —
Steel-cage mixed martial arts (MMA) fighting returns to Woodward this Saturday, with several bouts featuring local fighters.
Amateurs, pros and super heavyweights are on the card for "Fists of Fury 4." Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, with the action set to kick off at 8 p.m.
Due to the past popularity of MMA events, Fists of Fury has been moved to Crystal Beach Stadium to allow more fans to attend. Promoter James Morris said that some 500 persons had to be turned away from the last event in February as the crowd had filled the county fair barn to capacity.
He said the new venue offers "Plenty of room, no bad seats and no obstructed views."
Morris said he enjoys putting on MMA events in Woodward because they are appreciated and supported by area residents.
"Plus, (the crowd has) cheered many of these guys when they were in high school sports, and now they've come back trying to become professionals" in MMA fighting, he said.
LOCAL TO FIGHT FOR TITLE BELT
Mike "The Fightin' Firefighter" Wickware is one of the local amateur MMA fighters who is contemplating turning pro.
"I haven't made a final decision yet," said Wickware, who is a Woodward firefighter. "I think I'll have a few more amateur matches, and discuss it with my family."
So far Wickware's career is off to a good start. During this weekend's fights, the undefeated Wickware will be competing for the amateur-level Oklahoma State Title Belt. He will be taking on another undefeated MMA cage fighter, Trent "Big Red" Wilkerson of Oklahoma City.
Wickware said he got interested in mixed martial arts shortly after he began his firefighting career.
"I went to a gym, looking for ways to stay in shape," and some cage fighters there caught his eye, he said.
"Mixed martial arts translates very well to firefighting," said Wickware. "The effort that is put forth in MMA really helps with firefighting skills."
He said his sponsor, Kwik Rentals, has been an integral part of the success he's experienced thus far.