by Ken Pishna

Originally slated to feature fan favorite Duane “Bang” Ludwig in the main event, his opponent backed out, Ring of Fire’s year-end show is still looking to be their biggest show to date. The weigh-ins are in the books and the rest of the card is still in tact, everyone made weight.

The most recognizable name on the card is probably fan favorite Pete Spratt. He is slated to face rising New Mexico talent and fellow Ring of Fire veteran Carlos Condit in a K-1 rules kickboxing bout. This will surely be one of Condit’s toughest bouts to date. Though he is 13-2 in MMA, Condit doesn’t have quite as much experience in kickboxing, but he is a smart, aggressive young fighter that typically doesn’t give his opponent the opportunity to impose their game plan. In his typical, confident demeanor, Condit would only say that he’s “looking forward to the fight.”

Then again, remember that Spratt has a ton of bouts to his credit. He is a savvy veteran that has traveled the globe fighting world-class opposition. Spratt had to make his way through an ice storm and 17-degreee temps in Dallas to make it to Denver where he was promptly introduced to the same deep freeze weather he just left, but was nonchalant about the task before him. “I’ve fought tough guys all around the world and I’ve only lost three times. I’m not too worried about it,” said Spratt.

Spratt versus Condit is sure to be one of the best fights of the night. Spratt brings a long list of success and tremendous skill to the ring. Condit is a rising young talent that has quickly established himself as a strong, well-rounded fighter that is not afraid to step in the ring with anyone. But they’re not even the main event. That honor is reserved for a Ring of Fire lightweight title bout between two regional fighters that are both very popular in the Denver area.

Alvin Robinson is a Royce Gracie brown belt under trainer John Crouch. He’s also a well-rounded mixed martial artist with lightning-quick hands to go along with his lightning-quick submissions. He’ll square off with Nebraska fighter Luke Caudillo who is a longtime Ring of Fire veteran that has made Denver his second home in the fight world. Caudillo has a strong wrestling base, good submission skills, and has the ability to go to blows with the best of them. Both fighters have ripped through the year and should make for a tremendous title fight.

But we’re not done yet. Once a local fighter in the Denver area, now a transplant to Maine, Jay Jack has been fighting for Ring of Fire since their second show. Eighteen shows later, Jack is facing New Mexico fighter Thomas Schulte. Both fighters are 12-4 and rely on strong grappling games. They are fighting for the welterweight belt in what promises to be another highly competitive bout.

In another title fight, that’s three title bouts for those keeping score, another longtime Denver favorite in Amanda Buckner (6-3) will be facing Shayna Baszler (4-1) of South Dakota for the women’s lightweight strap. Both are skilled grapplers and athletically gifted, though Buckner is also an aggressive striker. These two fighters are the women in the sport that are putting the female faction of MMA on the map. They’re not good fighters for girls, they’re good fighters… period.

These are just the main fights on a card that is pretty much stacked from top to bottom, the driving force behind the ever-growing promotion. Ring of Fire kicked off little more than five years ago in front of a couple hundred fans. At their last show, at the Douglas County Event Center the same venue as tonight’s show, the crowd tipped the scales at a little over 3,000. And promoter Sven Bean says that Ring of Fire 20: Elite is expected to set a new attendance record for the show.

155 MMA: Alvin Robinson (CO) vs. Luke Caudillo (NE)
170 MMA: Jay Jack (ME) vs. Thomas Schulte (NM)
170 K-1: Pete Spratt (TX) vs. Carlos Condit (NM)
135 MMA: Amanda Buckner (ME) vs. Shayna Baszler (SD)
154 K-1 MAX: Donald Cerrone (CO) vs. Lamont Forin (NY)
140 K-1: Chrisanne Roseliep (CO) vs. Gina Carano (NV)
205 MMA: Elliot Marshall (CO) vs. Ed Schmitt (NE)
170 MMA: Alfredo Corona (CO) vs. Leister Bowling (CO)
HVYWT MMA: Drew Knapp (CO) vs. Mark Spencer (NM)
155 MMA: Josh Ford (CO) vs. Adrian Jerone (CO)
145 MMA: Tyler Toner (CO) vs. Pete Ozuk (CO)

Saturday, December 10th, 2005
Douglas County Event Center
Castle Rock, Colorado

In an effort to show support of our troops around the world, December 10th will also be RING OF FIRE MILITARY APPRECIATION night. Besides having both the Army and National Guard in attendance, the national anthem will be performed by the Joint Color Guard accompanied by a Navy soloist. There will also be a special in ring presentation to American war veterans of all branches Special Thanks to Jeff Conrad of Military Connect for his assistance.