Navajo Nation hosts first MMA event in Window Rock

By Shondiin Silversmith
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, September 20, 2012

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T he capital of the Navajo Nation is about to play host for its first extreme sporting event as fighters from across the nation gather to compete in the mixed martial arts event "Warpath 3: Rise of Champions" this weekend at the Window Rock Sports Center.

"It's a Native American mixed martial arts professional and amateur event," said Tay Carroll, CEO of Cage LifeTM Sports and Entertainment, a Native American owned and operated professional MMA and entertainment company based in Albuquerque. "We are looking to promote up and coming Native American talent."

Carroll said Warpath was founded in 2006 with the intent of promoting local Native American fighters, but as they scouted for competitors no Native fighters could be found – until now that is.

"One of the biggest goals we have is helping the young Native American athletes find this sport and work toward that major goal of actually making it into the big time," he said.

A large part of the fight card is Native American, which is what makes Warpath 3 different from the first two, according to Carroll.

"This is the first time we've promoted a big card like this with all Native American competitors," he said adding that there are a total of 12 fights scheduled, including pro and amateur fights. Carroll said that two thirds of the fight card is Navajo fighters.

First thing we tell the fighter is, "If you're not ready please let us know," Carroll said about how he makes sure each fighter is ready for this competition.

"We're making sure these fighters are 100 percent ready to go. This is a professional sport were taking every safety precaution for the fighters," he added.

"A lot of people when they first hear cage fight they associate it with some type of street brawl," Carroll said. "They utilized all these different skills to bring into this sport of mixed martial arts."


Randy Yellowhair, 26, who will be fighting in the main event, said, "It takes a lot of hard work" to be a fighter "a lot of mental work."

"It's not just me putting on some gloves to fight someone. There is a lot of technique involved," said Yellowhair, who is originally from Chinle, Ariz. and went pro in July.

He added that if a fighter is able to control his technique, his cardio and mental well being, that is what makes a fighter.

Yellowhair now resides in Salt Lake City. He is of the Water Flow Together Clan and born for Bitter Water Clan.

Yellowhair has been fighting for over two years but for the past year he has been representing the Pit Elevated Gym in Orem, Utah.

"I train among UFC fighters," he said adding that his gym trains four Ultimate Fighting Championship fighters. "It's one of the best gyms in Utah."

This will be Yellowhair's second fight as a pro fighter and he looks forward to fighting close to home.

"It took me three years to turn pro, from my first jujitsu tournament to my last amateur fight," he said.

Carroll said he decided to have the event in Window Rock because of the high demand.

"We are bringing professional sports to the Navajo Nation," Carroll said about how Warpath will open the doors for the Navajo Nation to other professional sporting events. "This is the stepping stone for our plans to work with the Navajo Nation."

Carroll said he is also happy to host the event in Window Rock because it will allow the local fighters' families to watch them compete.

"This is going to be an exciting show. Once you come out and see a live event like this, you're hooked," he added. "The fans are going to get one heck of a show. It's really exciting."

All ages are welcome to the Warpath III: Rise of Champions. Tickets are on sale at Xtreme Ground N Pound Fight Shop in Gallup and online at www.ticketriver.com.

Weigh in's for the event is scheduled for Friday at 5 p.m. inside the Xtreme Ground N Pound Fight Shop in Gallup.

Carroll said this is an opportunity for fans to meet and greet the fighters competing.

The fights begin at 6 p.m. on Saturday.

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