Blue Lake Casino Presents Mixed Martial Arts Event – Winter Warriors

Jan 16, 2009
(PRESS RELEASE) -- Extreme cage fighting returns to Blue Lake, California, as Blue Lake Casino hosts Showdown in the Sapphire | Winter Warriors on Saturday, January 17th at 8:00 p.m. Showdown in the Sapphire is a live, mixed martial arts (MMA) fighting contest that takes place in an octagonal cage; currently, there are tentatively 13 fights scheduled.

Professional mixed martial arts has been made popular by the television exposure of Ultimate Fighting Championship, MMA's major league franchise. Locally, MMA is practiced at the Humboldt Jiu Jitsu Gym, where owner Nick Kukuruza is a huge fan and tireless ambassador for the emerging sport. This is the third MMA fighting event at Blue Lake Casino in partnership with Humboldt Gym, and provides a venue where up and coming fighters test their skills in front of local audiences for pride and name recognition.

Showdown in the Sapphire will feature many local fighters such as Matt Gerken, who started practicing mixed martial arts to recover from a near-fatal car accident that landed him into a four-month long coma just two years ago (with the scars that tell the story), and is now a top contender with only one year of MMA fight experience.

Eureka fighter Chantachone “Gump” Pheunleuth, a native of Thailand, fell out of a tree as a youth and doctors told him he would never run again due to the severity of his leg injury. Determined to prove them wrong, “Gump” earned his nickname by learning to run with a knee brace and now is looking for his first win with the Humboldt Gym.

The sport of MMA has been criticized by Sen. John McCain, among others for its perceived violence, and the controversy has caused it to be banned in many states. Today, due to the popularity and more organization and fighter protections implemented by promoters such as the UFC and others, MMA fighting is now sanctioned in many states and is enjoying tremendous growth as a sport across the nation.

Weigh-ins will be held at the Blue Lake Casino on Friday, January 16th from 3 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Local fighters and Nick Kukuruza from Humboldt Gym will be available for interviews. On event night, doors will open at 6:45 p.m., the fights start at 8:oo p.m. For tickets, contact the Blue Lake Casino Player's Club at 707.668.9770 x1149.

About Blue Lake Casino
Blue Lake Casino, The Sapphire Palace and The Play Station 777 are enterprises of the Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe ( The casino is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, offering 750 slot machines, and live-action Table Games, high limit Blackjack, live poker and tournaments five nights a week. Dining choices include Alice’s Restaurant, Wave Lounge, the Lily Pad Café and The Play Station 777 Deli. Free live music several nights each week. For more information, visit
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