Sports

Four Title bouts highlight Atlas Fights 26 at MGM Park

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters from across the Gulf Coast are making final preparations for Saturday's "Brawl at the Ballpark." an Atlas Fights 26 production at MGM Park, home of the Biloxi Shuckers.

There are four title fights on the main card: pro welterweight, pro bantamweight, pro lightweight and pro flyweight, as well as several undercard matches.

The fight is the first of its kind to be held at MGM Park.

"We built that stadium with the promise of offering mixed entertainment and you can't get much more mixed than mixed martial arts," Atlas Fights President Glenn Mattina said during media day Saturday at Alan Belcher MMA Club in D'Iberville.

"It's the fastest growing sport on the world. We are cautiously very excited about the turnout. We are hoping the turnout is going to be slightly larger than we expect."

The main event between welterweight pros Rance Jones Jr. and Robert Turnquest is a rematch between the Pensacola-based fighters. Jones and Turnquest fought at the Golden Nugget Casino in March. Their fight went the distance of five rounds, won by Jones. Turnquest said has been looking to avenge the loss.

"We fought five rounds March 21 and (Jones) won on the referee's decision," Turnquest said. "I asked for this rematch. I wanted it. I pushed for it. It wasn't something Jones wanted or was ready to take so I had to do what a lot of fighters do and take things into my own hands. I went on social media and made some comments and I got the reaction I wanted."

Turnquest, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, said the "bad blood" between the two Pensacola fighters adds extra drama to the rematch.

"Our schools are about 10 minutes apart," he said. "They are the two biggest schools in Pensacola. There's a lot of bad blood and a lot to be settled."

According to Jones, the referee's made the right decision.

"I'm excited about this," Jones said. "He said some stuff on social media but it all depends on what happens when we get in the cage. I'm not going to lie, this is like a territorial fight. He won the first two rounds last time, I'll give him that. But it won't happen again. It won't go the distance this time."

Two local fighters will also be featured on the card as Aaron "Yoda" Williams of Ocean Springs will be fighting Jonathan Mackles in the pro bantamweight and Gulfport native Will Cruthirds will be face Matt "Tsunami" McCook in the flyweight battle. McCook is a former Atlas featherweight champion.

"I have two pros in the fight," Alan Belcher said. "Williams and Cruthirds trained her at the club. MMA is really growing here on the Coast. Its exciting to be having mixed martial arts at MGM Park in Biloxi. Aaron and Will train year-round. They should be prepared for the fights."

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