Hobbs returns to Cage

Ute Mountain Casino will host King of the Cage, Underground 73

Grant Hobbs practices his boxing with trainer Kaan Clark at Lifer MMA on Monday in preparation for his amateur fight April 21, in King of the Cage, Underground 73 at the Ute Mountain Casino in Towaoc. Enlargephoto

Journal/Bobby Abplanalp

Grant Hobbs practices his boxing with trainer Kaan Clark at Lifer MMA on Monday in preparation for his amateur fight April 21, in King of the Cage, Underground 73 at the Ute Mountain Casino in Towaoc.

A lot has happened since Grant Hobbs last stepped in the mixed martial arts cage.

On the night of July 16, Hobbs, 22, defeated Durango Martial Arts rival Kevin Wirth to move his amateur record to 7-2.

The Dove Creek favorite was on cloud nine after a huge win for Durango competitor Vicious Strength MMA. It was his fourth straight win and he was ready to turn pro.

Then, the injury bug bit. Hobbs broke his leg in a pickup basketball game.

Its been nine months since Hobbs was last in the cage. On April 21, he will compete at King of the Cage, Underground 73. People will see the return of one of their favorite fighters at the Ute Mountain Casino in Towaoc, but some things have changed.

Hobbs leg is healed, he has a new gym and will compete in a new weight class.

Im not going to say Im a 100 percent all the way around. Youre obviously never a 100 percent, Hobbs said. It (the leg) healed right, hopefully. It doesnt hurt me. I dont think it will be a problem for this fight at all.

Hobbs now fights in Cortez at the new Lifer MMA gym after Vicious Strength MMA closed in Durango. Local fighters Isaque Sandman Martinez, Dominic Gurule, Manny Ruiz and Joey Trevino have all moved to Lifer MMA from Montezuma Martial Arts Studio. Trainer Kaan Clark owns the gym.

Ive known Kaan pretty much my whole life, Hobbs said. I didnt ever think Id end up here, but the opportunity arose. So, this is where Im at.

Hobbs will move up from 125 pounds to 130. He will take on Jacob Aguirre (4-5) of Silver City, N.M.

I dont think hes ever been to a place where hes going to have the support behind a local fighter like I do, said Hobbs of his opponent. Its my 10th fight, his 10th fight. Its going to be a brawl.

There is plenty of motivation for Hobbs to win this fight. Not just to get back on track after being sidelined, but hes dedicating his fight to someone who has greatly influenced him.

I just want to say a special thanks to Ken Soper. Hopefully, I can win this one for him, said Hobbs about the former Dove Creek High School football coach, whom Hobbs played for. I give all my support and a lot of my mental toughness from Mr. Soper. You have to take your things in stride and hell do that. Hes the one who taught me.

Gurule (0-2) will fight at 170 pounds. The 22-year-old has lost two heartbreakers by judges decision.

The plan against Stacey Cly of Gallup, N.M.?

Start fast.

I have a little different mentality for this fight, Gurule said. Im going to not wait so much more and not try to leave it up to the judges. Im going to try to set my own pace. Im going to try to take it to him right off the bat, probably. Im looking to end the fight as quick as possible. If it goes to the ground, Im going to try and end it there. Im going to try to end it standing, too.

Trevino is looking to make his debut. He was slated to do so on Oct. 15, but his opponent didnt show up.

Martinez and Ruiz will not compete due to knee and shoulder injuries.

Doors open at the Ute Mountain Casino on Saturday, April 21, at 6 p.m., with the fights beginning at 7. Tickets can be purchased through the Ute Mountain Casino Gift Shop or by calling 800-258-8007. Its an all ages event, but children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Reach Bobby Abplanalp at bobbya@cortezjournal.com.

Dominic Gurule kicks Tony Ruiz, as he shields his face from a Ruiz blow Monday at Lifer MMA. Gurule will fight in an amateur bout April 21, in King of the Cage, Underground 73 in Towaoc at the Ute Mountain Casino. Enlargephoto

Journal/Bobby Abplanalp

Dominic Gurule kicks Tony Ruiz, as he shields his face from a Ruiz blow Monday at Lifer MMA. Gurule will fight in an amateur bout April 21, in King of the Cage, Underground 73 in Towaoc at the Ute Mountain Casino.