Friday night, it's another huge step in El Paso becoming an 'MMA city' as the El Paso County Coliseum hosts a huge night of fights. Because the event benefits the Stars and Stripes Foundation, which aids wounded troops and their families, it has attracted a lot of the top fighters with military background in MMA. Aside from 2 UFC veterans, the King of the Cage champ, and several of the top regional names, the event will also have as guests Paul Buentello, a veteran of the sport who has fought for both the UFC and Strikeforce heavyweight belt, and Tim Kennedy, Strikeforce Middleweight contender who bounced back from a loss to Strikeforce Middleweight champ Ronaldo 'Jacare' Souza with a win over feared striker Melvin Manhoff.
For the Main Event, it's decorated wrestler and UFC veteran Mike Van Arsdale up against King of the Cage champ Esteves 'Quiet Riot' Jones. Of Jones' 6 wins, 5 were by way of KO/TKO, with his latest trip to the cage lasting all of 15 seconds, so it's no mystery he wants to go in there, swing away and punch his opponent unconscious. Arsdale is the complete opposite, a highly-decorated, world-level wrestler with a knack for submitting his opponents once he takes them to the mat. With a record of 8-5, one would think there's nothing special about Arsdale but when you take into consideration the losses came to the likes of Randy Couture, Wanderlei Silva, Renato 'Babalu' Sobral, and Matt Lindland, you realize it takes an elite-level fighter to give Arsdale a loss. On paper, Arsdale should have no problem taking the fight to the ground and working his game but things rarely go how they should, and if Jones can make Arsdale struggle for the takedown, his heavy hands could get him the win like they've done many times before.
For the Co-Main Event, it's tough, battle-tested, former UFC fighter Rich 'No Love' Clementi versus Warriors Challenge Welterweight champ Josh Hinkle. With over 50 fights, Clementi has been around for a while and, with wins over guys like Sam Stout, Melvin Guillard, and Anthony 'Rumble' Johnson, has shown he can beat just about anyone on any given night. Though a well-rounded fighter, Clementi's style is more grapple-oriented, using his striking to help close the distance and set up takedowns. Clementi's all about top control and uses his ground and pound more for improving position and setting up submissions than actually pounding someone out. He dominated his last opponent for 3 rounds, so confident in the bout that he was kissing his right glove right before punching his opponent only to get submitted with a minute and a half to go, so he should come in refocused and ready instead of treating this like just another fight. Hinkle is the Warriors Challenge champ, and though the promotion isn't too well known, being the champ anywhere means fighting the best competition the region has to offer. Having almost as many TKOs as he does submissions, Hinkle has shown he can do it all but how well he can do it is the question at hand. With all his experience, Friday night is just another day at the office for Rich Clementi, time to get in the cage, press his opponent up against the cage, take him down, rough him up and possibly submit him. Hinkle needs to avoid being on his back, and if he does end up there, he needs to not let his will get broken by Clementi's top game.
Esteves Jones and Josh Hinkle know little about losing and have been making a name for themselves in the regional promotions. Mike Van Arsdale and Rich Clementi have fought in the world's top promotion and look to fight their way back to the big show. Veterans and Up-and-Comers collide and regardless of the outcome, it's bound to be exciting. Rogue Warrior Championships takes place April 8 at the El Paso County Coliseum. The first fight starts at 8pm. Tickets start at $20 and are on sale at all Ticketmaster locations. For more information, go to www.texascagefighting.net.