Strikefest 5 to feature boxing, kickboxing and MMA

Jeff Birchfield • May 3, 2018 at 6:48 PM

Whether you’re a fan of boxing, muay thai or mixed martial arts, Saturday’s Strikefest 5 card has it all for the combat sports fan.

There are 10 fights on the card nicknamed “Cinco de Mayhem” at D3 Elite Gym at 2615 South Roan Street, Johnson City, headlined by a cruiserweight boxing match between Johnson City’s Dustin Long and Kingsport’s Judd Brown.

Both are versatile fighters who also compete in Mixed Martial Arts and the card is sanctioned by the United Mixed Martial Arts Federation. It’s also part of Long’s goals to start having more bouts between local fighters. Long also wants evenly matched fights, whether he or his fighters come out on the winning or losing end.

“When I first started MMA, the amateurs around here would fight each other,” Long said. “The area got away from that because everyone got thinking like they didn’t want people to see this gym as better than their gym. I want to get back having guys from the local gyms compete against each other.”

Besides the Brown-Long bout, there is a heavyweight boxing match featuring Stephan Flanagan (0-1) out of Gainesville, Ga., against Mike Thomas (0-0-1) from Johnson City.

Most of the card features Muay Thai fighting.

For those unfamiliar with Muay Thai, it’s a form of kickboxing, but differs from the American style of kickboxing in that low kicks to the legs, knees and elbows are allowed as well as clinching and grabbing the opponent’s kicking leg. Fighters can also throw elbows and knees, although not to the face, and they wear gloves like in a traditional boxing or kickboxing fight.

Johnson City fighters Caleb Frank and Tim Fair will be in separate 185-pound fights, while Aaron Phillips is in a 163-pound fight. Frank is taking on David Robins of Cleveland, Tenn., in what’s listed as a Muay Thai title fight.

“I’m more of a boxing guy, but I can do a little bit of everything,” Frank said. “There’s a lot to watch out for with knees, kicks, elbows and all. It’s pretty exciting because I’ve not had as many fights and they’re underestimating me. I plan on shocking some people.”

Two Mountain City fighters are also in action. Austin Kurtz will face Andrew Graves of Johnson City in a 185-pound fight. Chris Courtner will take on Ned Spears of Pennington Gap, Va., in a 135-pound match.

The other Muay Thai fight features Rodrigo Gonzalez from Kingsport.

Strikefest 5 opens with two MMA fights, including Michael Valladeras of Kingsport in a 145-pound fight. Long’s goal is to have a fight card every couple of months, which takes cooperation from those involved in different disciplines.

“Most of it is from having good relationships,” Long said. “Tim Loy is a promoter who has helped me a lot and I’ve tried not to burn bridges. There are people I know from the boxing and the MMA community and you just have to treat people decent and they’ll be there when you need them. It’s a good platform for the local fighters. We have a lot of good fighters and good gyms around here. This is a chance to see them fight at home and it builds them up for other shows.”

The show starts at 6:30 p.m. with tickets $25 in advance and $35 at the door.

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