Mixed Martial Arts comes to Meadows Racetrack

Mixed martial arts comes to Meadows Racetrack Casino tonight

July 11, 2015 12:00 AM

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 By Desiree Mathurin / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The focus tonight at the Meadows Racetrack Casino won’t be on the slot machines but instead on a large caged ring.

It’s fight night in Washington, Pa., as the mixed martial arts promotion King of the Cage returns with its card titled Counter Attack. It begins at 7:30 p.m. and will air on MavTV, which is available on DirecTV and Verizon Fios in HD.

King of the Cage joined with the Meadows for a three-part deal. This is the promotion’s second event at the casino, with the first being in April and the final one in September.

According to owner Terry Trebilcock, the promotion needed to make an appearance in Western Pennsylvania, a wrestling mecca.

“Pennsylvania has a great history of wrestling; Penn State has one of the best wrestling teams,” Trebilcock said. “Not being in this market, I felt like it hurt us. When the opportunity opened up, we smashed it.”

King of the Cage pulverized the deal and started looking for talent in the area. While King of the Cage has fighters hailing from all around the world, bringing in hometown names boost sales and brings awareness to the sport.

MMA is a combat sport involving both striking and grappling. Fighters combine practices like wrestling, karate, jiu-jitsu and boxing in their training, becoming well-rounded combat athletes.

MMA became known in America in 1993, but the first knockouts started in Pennsylvania in 1980 with black belt karate instructor Frank Caliguri and promoter Bill Viola. They debuted the “Battle of the Tough Guys” March 19, 1980, in New Kensington.

The promotion went on for three years until the state Senate specifically banned it in Title 5 Chapter 17, which states that anyone participating or promoting “any tough guy contest” would be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor.

The early stages of the sport were brutal and considered to be a glorified street fight. However, MMA evolved and currently has new standards and rules that were applied to eliminate some of the street style and actions that could seriously injure a fighter.

The lineup tonight includes six professional and four amateur matches.

The main event features 145-pounder Justin Steave (7-5), who trains out of Fight Club Pittsburgh and is a Garfield native. He was raised in Weirton, W.Va., and has fought in promotions across the tri-state area. He started his career in 2006 and turned pro in 2011.

Steave was contacted by King of the Cage promoters and debuted for them in April, winning his bout by technical knockout in the third round. With only one win via decision, Steave envisions another knockout victory.

“I’m excited for [tonight]. To be honest, I think it’s going to be fireworks,” Steave said. “I can see it being ’Fight of the Night.’ ”

Steave said that MMA is the fastest growing sport and the fan base in Pittsburgh will get larger. He said plenty of people “watch it on TV but they don’t know about the local gyms.”

Justin Patton, also from Pittsburgh Fight Club, is on the card at the amateur level. Steave fights Brady Hovermale (9-5) and ensures Pittsburgh fans won’t be disappointed. “I never put on boring fights and I don’t plan on putting on a boring fight [tonight],” he said. “I’m going to come back with the W.”

Desiree Mathurin: dmathurin@post-gazette.com and Twitter @dez_sm. 



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