, Muskogee, OK


February 21, 2014

For ex-Rougher, cage fighting spiced conditioning regimen

For Dale Ford, this trek started — and for the most part still is — grounded in staying in shape.

Ford, after his days as a Muskogee High offensive lineman, lifted weights and ran until he got bored. Then, around the corner on Seventh Street from the auto service and towing company he now runs, he found a cure for boredom.

Hooligan’s Gym is an area training base for cage fighting. Ford, 19, is on the card set for Saturday at Muskogee Civic Center when “Fists of Fury II” plays out its schedule of bouts.

Ford was at the first Fists of Fury and registered a victory with a tap out win over Randy Hernandez of Abilene, Texas.  Ford took Hernandez down twice in the opening round and ended it with some blows to his head and body that left Hernandez unable to answer the bell for the second round.

He’s 2-2 in an amateur career, in a sport he went into cold turkey.

“I really didn’t know anything about it until about a year and a half ago and don’t have any intentions of making a living out of this,” Ford said. “Once you train enough with Tyrel (Brown, owner of Hooligan’s), you pick up enough to where you’re confident with it.

“The toughest part of this is the ground game. There’s more to watch out for when you’re on the ground. On your feet, you can either get punched or kicked.”

Ford wrestled one year at Muskogee High as a freshman. “A lot of those who do this have wrestled and it’s and advantage for your ground game. I don’t think I did enough of that back then. I feel like I’d be more suited for boxing but there’s just not as many opportunities for that around here.”

The major benefit, though, is still in conditioning.

“When I left football I was 250 pounds and my knees hurt all the time. I now weigh 185,” he said.

He’ll fight a fellow Oklahoman named Joel Midget, who at 5-foot-11 to Ford’s 6-1 is not exactly synonymous with his surname, as part of the undercard Saturday. Midget is 1-0.

Two pro fights feature unbeatens Jake Salyer of Tulsa and Richie Bowen of Davis in one and Fred Pierce of Wilburton going against Houston Stout of Bartlesville. Featured fight is Marcus Preland of Muskogee vs. Rickey Comala of Jones. Preland has won his last four fights and Comala is 7-2.

Tickets are $40 ringside and $25 for general admission. The card starts at 7:30 p.m.

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