Professional Mixed Martial Arts action returns to the Verizon Wireless Theater in downtown Houston on October 16th with IXFA: Flores versus McDowell. This main event will decide the Welterweight Championship in what is sure to be a contrast in styles between the Houston’s own hard-hitting Antonio Flores and the seasoned submission fighter in Brandon McDowell out of Austin, TX. The rest of the card features nine other professional bouts, including a much-anticipated rematch between Ruben Davila and Jared Taylor as well as the professional debuts of local fighters Jeremy Morris and Jason Sullivan.
I recently caught up with IXFA Director Chris Reed to preview this Saturday’s upcoming event and the future of the IXFA in Houston.
Last time we heard about you, you were saving a woman from a domestic abuse situation until the authorities could take over. Now I know that story has been covered in the Houston Chronicle and local television news as well but I have to ask you before we get into the event… how does it feel to be in the spotlight for that? Do you feel like a hero?
To be honest the attention that I received was nice and I really appreciate it, but being in law enforcement for over 20 years, it was second nature and I was just doing my job. The situation was an unfortunate one and, well, the young women needed help and I just happened I be there. I like to think that if a situation occurred where my daughter was being attacked like that, someone else would help her too. So, I don’t feel like a hero because for me, it was doing the right thing, and also my job.
It’s been awhile since we’ve seen regular shows at the Verizon Theatre, which was once the Mecca of Houston MMA back when Saul Soliz was hosting Renegades. Why did you (along with Scott Dawson) choose Verizon Theatre as the venue for your event?
It is the best venue in the city, hands down. As a fighter and/or a fight fan, it is simply a great venue for fights. There is not a bad seat in the house; everyone is so close to the cage no matter where you sit. And being centrally located in downtown, it just makes you feel like you are stepping out! The atmosphere that is created in the venue is electric.
You guys bought some advertising spots on the Ultimate Fighter show, which is great. That shows a lot of commitment, fiscally. Is that part of long-term strategy geared towards hosting regular IXFA shows in the Houston market? What are you and Scott’s long-term vision for the IXFA?
We are both huge fans of this sport and love being a part of helping it grow and succeed on this level. We really love being a part of the scene and helping fighters get to the next level. Shows on this level are predominately carried by what we call “club level support.” The fighter’s gym, family, friends, and friends of friends. You know, “Hey my sister’s boyfriend is fighting! We have to go see this! Or my best friend is fighting, I’m going to get all my friends to go see him and support him.” Your average UFC fan usually doesn’t come to local MMA shows because they do not know about them. Our advertisement on SPIKE during “TUF” is an effort to raise awareness and reach beyond “club level support.” This is definitely part of our marketing plan for the IXFA. IXFA – Extreme Fighting *Houston* has a pretty simple goal, “To provide a consistent production every 60-75 days at the Verizon Wireless Theater, Downtown Houston, TX, where local MMA professionals fight the best from the State of Texas and beyond showcasing their skills and talents on their way to the next level. We want everyone to feel like they are attending a UFC show, and we want the fighters to feel like they are fighting in the UFC. We have helped launch two fighters to the UFC, Tim Credeur and Kyle Bradley, and it is just really great to see guys succeed that we worked with before.
I see Kyle Miers (145) and Jose Santibanez (155) as current titleholders. Now we have a 170 title fight in the October 16th event with Antonio Flores taking on Brandon McDowell. What potential do you see out of each of these fighters and what should fans expect out of this fight?
This is such an interesting fight. Antonio Flores is definitely known as a stand up guy with a pair of the best hands in the business. Brandon McDowell is an extremely experience ground fighter. I expect each of them to try and keep the fight in where their strengths lie, and most likely the one who achieves that will win. Antonio is so explosive, I love watching this guy….and Brandon is so tricky, you never know what submission he is going to pull off. I have seen Brandon in so many fights where I think he is going to lose, and then he pulls out a slick submission and bam, another mark for the Win Column.
Any plans to add titles in other weight classes in the near future?
Absolutely. Titles are important for every organization and fighters, and we will add the belts as the fights warrant “Title Fight” exclusivity. Eventually, we will have a Title Belt for every weight class. We will always have at least one Title Fight on the card, and usually shoot for 2 title fights in each show.
What else should fans expect out of IXFA? Any matchups in particular you are personally looking forward to?
Aside from the main event …which is a no brainer and huge. Sullivan VS Clissold is expected to be very exciting and sparks are going to fly on this one, these guys like to bang.
We have a really exciting 17 year old that just turned pro coming in from the Valley, Tomas Covarrubias, to fight Lee Higgins of Houston, TX. This fight is very interesting to me to see how this youngster handles himself on the big stage for the first time; this will be the youngest fighter we have ever had on a card. I am really excited about the entire card. You can see it at www.IXFA.tv.
Anything else you’d like to say to MMA fans in Houston?
After fighting here for the last few years, I am really excited to be able to bring this show to the Verizon Wireless Theater. We hope that anyone reading this article will come check out the show because we promise that you will be hooked if you give it a chance. These local fighters give just as much as the guys that you see in the UFC, because they are the same. They just haven’t gotten there yet. They train just hard, fight just as hard and give just as much. These fights are just as exciting as the fights you watch in the UFC. One of the greatest things about MMA is the fighters are so accessible. It isn’t unusual to be able to meet the fighters and after they fight. Because as soon as their fight is over, they are usually out in the arena enjoying the show as well. We are all fans first. We invite everyone to come out and get to know the next generation of up and coming fighters and enjoy a great night of fights with your friends. As you are watching the UFC a year from now, you just might be saying, “Hey, I know that fighter. He’s from Houston, TX and I saw him fight at IXFA at the Verizon Wireless. I met that guy, he is awesome!”