Hard hits. Tap outs. The cage. Everything that makes mixed martial arts one of the fastest growing sports in the country is coming to Tiffin.
Saturday, Fullbore Xtreme Cagefighting will put on its third fight card from the Seneca County Fairgrounds. Fourteen fights are scheduled for the Ohio Athletic Commission-sanctioned show, highlighted by a number of area fighters.
Locally, a lot of the Tiffin area fighters train at Elite Sports Academy, while others come from gyms in Fremont, Findlay and Celina.
Promoter Rick Fitch of Ten Toes Up Fight Entertainment says the card features a lot of local fighters who are quickly moving up the ranks, and some top talent from outside the area
"We have fighters from all over northwest Ohio, and as far as Palestine, Texas," Fitch said. "We have a couple guys competing on the card from Pennsylvania. A lot of the local guys are big, up-and-coming talent that could make it very far."
Fitch is no stranger to the MMA game.
Starting in 2009, Fitch and a partner ran Havoc Extreme Cagefighting and put out 18 shows in Marion, Columbus and other areas. After having a falling out with his partner, Fitch then paired up with Ian Rammel, who he had previously worked with as a fighter, and formed FXC.
After holding successful shows in Tiffin in February and November, FXC is back with what Fitch says promises to be their most exciting card to date as the promotion continues to grow.
"Our first two cards were well received. We had a good turnout for both shows; both shows were really entertaining," Fitch said. "We're starting to grow, getting a lot more sponsors to get on board. We purchased our own cage. Everything's kind of falling into place."
Amateur fights are slightly different than the ones you see on a UFC telecast when it comes to strikes and equipment.
"Amateurs, they have different rules," Fitch said. "It's the same rules basically as you'd see in UFC, but there's no elbows whatsoever and no kicks and knees to the head. Also, you have to wear a little more padded gloves than in pro fights."
Saturday's card is headlined by a heavyweight title fight between Bobby Alford of Tiffin against Kaleb Raymond of Upper Sandusky. Each scored first-round victories at FXC's last show in February. Raymond made his opponent submit at the 2:50 mark of the opening round, while Alford won via TKO 15 seconds into the fight.
"Bobby Alford is a local guy with a fairly good following," Fitch said. "He's probably going to make it into the pro rankings after a few more fights."
The co-main event will be a fight for the 155-pound interim title between Curtis Doner, who represents the Battle Zone Fight Team out of Celina, and Nathan Fought of Fremont.
Other fights will have title implications.
Tiffin's Mary Kate Hayes, unbeaten in two fights, looks to keep moving up the ladder as she faces Melissa Blythe, out of Rpanoke, Va., in one of two female fights on the card.
"One more win for Mary Kate Hayes and she'll likely be fighting for a title," Fitch said. "She's an up-and-coming talent from Tiffin. She wins this next one, she should be in line for a title fight."
At light heavyweight, Fremont's Anthony Binder faces Nick Gabel of Coldwater, with the winner in line for a future title match.
Also on the card, two Carey natives will do battle, as Alek Niederkohr faces Isaiah Hesson.
Other local fighters scheduled to fight include Kohl Johnson, Felix Salinas and Aaron Webster of Upper Sandusky, Gilberto Bernal of Fostoria and Allison Ainley, Alan Huffman and Rex Haubert of Tiffin.
Belltime is set for 8 p.m. Saturday at the Seneca County Fairgrounds in the Livestock Pavilion.