KEARNEY, Nebraska — Resurrection Fighting Alliance (RFA) announced in early March that they had signed former NCAA Division I national champion wrestler turned undefeated MMA fighter Bubba Jenkins to a 6-fight deal. Now they have announced who he will be facing in his promotional debut.
His opponent will be none other than Jesus Adame, who is pretty much a living legend in the combat sports scene of southwestern Kansas. This is a man who has basically been boxing since he was able to climb in a ring and has over 280 amateur and junior boxing fights to his credit.
Jenkins (2-0) and Adame (3-1, 1 NC) will meet in a featured lightweight (155-pound) bout on the main card of RFA 3 – Stevenson vs. Cochrane on Saturday, June 30th at the Viaero Event Center in Kearney, Nebraska.
Over the years, some of the best wrestlers and boxers have met in competition in what are the most popular striking and grappling arts worldwide. The famous Spanish philosopher George Santayana once said: "The one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again." In the case Jenkins (collegiate wrestling champ) vs. Adame (amateur boxing star), I felt like putting Santayana’s aphorism to the test.
On Saturday, June 26th, 1976, wrestling star Antonio Inoki and boxing legend Muhammad Ali competed in what many credit as one of the first and most significant matches that pitted champions from two different styles of combat against each other. Their match in Tokyo, Japan would act as a precursor to modern MMA.
In 1982, Hollywood caught on to this theme, as they hired Hulk Hogan to play the roll of Thunderlips (wrestler) to compete in an exhibition match against Sylvester Stallone’s lead character Rocky Balboa (boxer) in Rocky III.
In 1998, the world’s biggest pro wrestling organization WWF (now known as WWE) enlisted the bad boy star power of boxing great and former undisputed world champion Mike Tyson, as an enforcer at WrestleMania XIV for the main event match between Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin. Tyson’s stint with the WWF started after he was suspended by the NSAC for biting Evander Holyfield’s ears. They continued their mutual relationship over the years with the WWE annoucing earlier this year that Tyson will be inducted into the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame.
As far as modern day MMA goes, the UFC, which is MMA’s biggest and most successful organization worldwide, opted to have Cain Velasquez (wrestler) face Junior Dos Santos (boxer) in their very first primetime broadcast, after signing a 7-year television deal with FOX. UFC on FOX 1 – Velasquez vs. Dos Santos last November was the most-watched live MMA event in United States history with an average of 5.7 million viewers and a ratings peak of 8.8 million viewers during the main event between Velasquez and Dos Santos, despite it lasting only 64 seconds.
History shows us that there is no secret that Boxing and Wrestling have always had a common appeal, whether featured in an exhibition match between two legends in the 70’s, seen on the silver screen of Hollywood in the 80’s, showcased as professional entertainment in the 90’s, or paired as the main disciplines of the world’s two best heavyweight mixed martial artists in the main event of a MMA superfight televised on FOX in modern times.
That tradition will continue on Saturday, June 30th, as Jenkins squares off with Adame at RFA 3. As for Santayana and his idea about history, sometimes when know your history, you will still happily and eagerly repeat it.