On Wednesday, July 14, the Alaska Fighting Championship will crown the first 135 lb MMA champion in the state's history. Any true fight fan would be a fool to miss it. Both captivating cage combatants have promised fireworks, and both have a history of delivering just that.
Squaring off will be the wiry, explosive Terrence Mitchell and the skilled, calculating boxer Jesse Cruz.
Jesse 'The Puerto Rican Gamecock' Cruz, who trains at Gracie Barra, is dedicating this fight to his two-year-old son, Jesse Jr.
"I'm trying to make a name for myself. I want to make history. I want this belt really bad, I want my son to hold it," Cruz said.
Cruz is also recovering from a wrist injury. He says his hand is at 80-85%, but swears that it won't be a factor in the fight.
"You never go into a fight one hundred percent. If you do you're a lucky, lucky, lucky guy," he said, adding, "if you do, you're not training hard enough."
The undefeated Mitchell, who trains at Frontier Vale Tudo, is only 20 years old, seven years Cruz's junior. He looks forward to the opportunities being the first 135 lb pound champion may present to him.
"I'm looking forward to getting the belt, defending it quite a few times this year, and moving up," Mitchel said, referring to the possibility of fighting at higher promotional levels.
Mitchell believes the fight will again be over quickly, but that if it does go longer that his cardio will be superior.
"I'm going to knock him out, probably in the second [round] if not the first," Mitchell said. "I can go forever, I've seen him slow down in his fights."
The two have fought once before, when Mitchell caught Cruz in a triangle choke early and forced the tap out. It was Mitchell's biggest win, as well as Cruz's only loss. Both are using the rematch aspect of the fight for motivation.
"I'm really happy because I get to get the loss off of my record," Cruz said.
Cruz insists that the loss was his own fault, and that he will not make the same mistake again. That sentiment confuses Mitchell.
"I don't know where his confidence is coming from," he said. "I just want to shut him up and prove that he can't beat me."
Despite his defeat, Cruz believes he's the better all-around fighter.
"I can out-fight him in every aspect [of MMA]," he said.
Mitchell's replied simply:
"Funny, 'cause I'm the one with the win."