Tank Faces Buentello At Strikeforce Fresno Debut

August 8, 2006; New York, NY….Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) legend, David “Tank” Abbott, will lock horns with top heavyweight contender, Paul “The Headhunter” Buentello, in the main event of a Strikeforce mixed martial arts cage fighting card at Fresno, California’s 14,000 capacity Save Mart Center on Saturday, October 7th.

Since establishing his presence in the mixed fight world by knocking out 400 pound mammoth, John Matua, in 20 seconds during the sixth-ever UFC on July 14, 1995, the 6 foot, 250 pound Abbott has become an unlikely hero to fight fans. His straightforward, go for broke style of combat, which he terms “pit fighting,” coupled with his blunt, pull no punches persona has furthered his appeal outside of the cage while earning him plenty of enemies inside of it.

His debut at UFC 6, a single-elimination tournament format card, also saw Abbott topple a second giant in 6 foot 8 inch, 300 pound, Paul “The Polar Bear” Varelans, with a barrage of strikes in 1 minute and 53 seconds. During the championship round of the affair, Abbott battled Russian Sambo master, Oleg Taktarov, for over 17 minutes before succumbing to a Taktarov choke hold.

Last May, Abbott made noise by avenging a previous loss he had suffered at the hands of fellow hard-nosed scrapper, Wesley “Cabbage” Correira, a year and a half earlier. In vintage Tank form, Abbott came out of the gates swinging and sent Correira to the canvas at the 1:23 mark of the opening round of their rematch in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Abbott’s successful use of pure force inside the cage stems largely from his uncanny level of strength. His ability to bench press as much as 600 pounds has been documented and widely publicized by both the martial arts and fitness media.

Mixed martial arts fans have likewise found a special place in their hearts for the 32-year-old Buentello, who has become somewhat of a Cinderella story since he relocated five years ago from his native Amarillo, Texas to San Jose, California, a martial arts fighting hotbed, in order to fulfill his longtime dream of becoming a prize fighting champion.

The risk that the 6 foot 2 inch, 245 pound Buentello took by leaving behind a supportive family and a full-time job has since paid monstrous dividends as the one-time journeyman has soared through the heavyweight rankings, stopping the likes of Mike “Mak” Kyle and Bobby Hoffman, before being granted a chance to test his skills in the octagon.

Buentello was successful in all but one of his of four UFC starts. His only defeat occurred when he challenged the organization’s then-reigning heavyweight champion, Andrei Arlovski, on October 7th of last year. Buentello quickly bounced back from the loss four months later and earned a victory by way of technical knockout on Gilbert Aldana during UFC 57.

Tickets for the October 7th Strikeforce event will be priced at $200, $150, $100, $75, $50, and $30 and will officially go on sale Thursday, August 24th at select Save Mart supermarkets as well as at Ticketmaster (559-485-TIXS (8497), Ticketmaster Online (www.ticketmaster.com), and the Save Mart Center box office.

The Strikeforce fight card in Fresno will be comprised of between 10 and 12 mixed martial arts bouts, all of which are subject to approval by the California State Athletic Commission.

The Save Mart Center is home to the Fresno State University men’s and women’s basketball teams as well as minor league hockey squad, The Fresno Falcons.

Strikeforce is a world-class mixed martial arts cage fight promotion that, on Friday, March 10th, made history with its “Shamrock vs. Gracie” event, the first sanctioned mixed martial arts fight card in California state history. The star-studded extravaganza, which pitted legendary champion Frank Shamrock against Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Cesar Gracie at San Jose’s HP Pavilion, played host to 18,265 fans, the largest-ever attendance at a mixed martial arts fight card held in North America.

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Michael Afromowitz