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Sun Dome hosts ultimate XFC fight


“Xtreme Fighting Championship (XFC) 24: Collision Course” is coming to the USF Sun Dome on Friday at 7 p.m. to give fans of the art of fighting a show of action-packed battles. 

XFC is a professional mixed martial arts (MMA) event that has been based in Tampa for the past six years. After two years of traveling the country, it’s back
to compete in the city from where it came. The event will bring together national male and female fighters from varying weight classes.

MMA is a full impact combat sport that includes various fighting styles such as wresting, Muay Thai, kickboxing, boxing, karate, Jiu Jitsu, and other styles where matches are fought in a cage. 

“It’s pretty much the ultimate combat sport,” female fighter Cortney “Cast Iron” Casey, who will be fighting Kelly Warren at the Sun Dome, said. “There is nothing better than two people who want the same thing in a cage where there is nowhere to run, fighting for that.” 

Being a female fighter was hard in the beginning, Casey said, because she had trouble finding other female fighters to train with. But now that the sport has gotten more recognition, it’s become a lot easier for all female fighters. 

Scott “Hot Sauce” Holtzman, XFC’s main event fighter, said he’s found his calling in MMA. He will fight John Mahlow on Friday.

“There really is no other feeling like it,” Holtzman said. “All the other sports I’ve played don’t compare to winning an MMA.” 

Both athletes’ desire to fight started at the gym. 

At the age of 24, Holtzman said he found training was a better use of his time than sitting in a cubicle staring at a computer. Casey was introduced to the sport through a friend, who is now her fiance. Like Casey, Holtzman said he is glad the sport is getting more recognition. 

“It’s not just a couple of gorillas going at it in a cage,” Holtzman said. “There’s a lot that goes into it. We’re high-level athletes, too, and I think people are starting to realize that.” 

Fighters such as Holtzman and Casey often have a strict diet and train six days a week, taking Sundays off. 

The rewards, they said, are in the ring, when the crowd praises them for their success. 

“That crowd is always electric,” Holtzman said.  “Especially when you do something well. It’s really an awesome feeling.”  

TJ Alcock, media coordinator and social media manager for XFC, said he has grown to love watching the sport during the past three years of his employment. 

“These guys are the young, up-and-coming, arriving stars of tomorrow, so we’re building their names to all of the new fans,” Alcock said. “It’s a lot of fun just to be there live.”

Alcock said he has only one complaint. 

“Being a little too close to the blood isn’t always the greatest thing,” he said. 

A few times, he’s had to wipe blood off his laptop, he said. 

USF, host of Friday’s show, is home to three martial arts student organizations – the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts Club, Judo Club and Southeast Asian Martial Arts Club.  

Warren Henry, the president of the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts Club and a senior majoring in public health, said he thinks martial arts offers more than what it may seem at the surface level. 

“It was more than a sport,” Henry said about the first time he got involved with Jiu Jitsu his freshman year. “It was a way of life. It taught me integrity and discipline.” 

Warren said he thinks it’s a good idea for people who are not involved with MMA to experience it for themselves. 

“A lot of people think they know what martial arts is,” Warren said. “But it’s different when you see it yourself, when you see the different martial arts in action.” 

Tickets for XFC24 start at $18.