September 10, 2006; New York, NY….Undefeated prospect, Eric Wray, will face his greatest test to date in the cage when he meets former Spike TV Ultimate Fighter contestant, Jason “Live Wire” Von Flue, during Strikeforce’s “Tank vs. Buentello” mixed martial arts fight card at Fresno, California’s 14,000 capacity Save Mart Center on Saturday, October 7th.
“I think Jason Von Flue is a really good matchup for me,” said the 25-year-old Wray, who has stopped all five of his opponents to date. “I just see it as being a very exciting fight that won’t go the distance, for sure. I’m a lot sharper on my feet than him. He’s a tough kid and I’ve seen him stand up with some good people. He’s one of those guys that you can’t count out. He’s a scrapper and he’s not gonna give up.”
After scoring a knockout on Jake Garcia during his debut four years ago, Wray choked out each of his next three opponents before forcing Theo McDonald to tap out from an arm bar nearly two years ago when they met in Mexico.
A versatile and electric fighter who originally had his eyes set on a career in professional boxing, Wray brings to the cage not only the submission skills he has honed on the way to earning his purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but also a dangerous Tae Kwon Do rooted striking arsenal that he has strengthened while training with world champion kickboxer, Brian Schwartz, and former boxing and kickboxing champion, Eddie Croft.
When he’s not working with the duo of stand-up fighting specialists, Wray is typically training alongside some of the world’s best mixed martial arts talent at San Jose, California’s American Kickboxing Academy (AKA). “AKA is really good for putting it all together,” said Wray. “Most other schools don’t do the type of sparring they do. We do full-out MMA. Three days a week we go down there, we do take downs, kicks, the whole deal. So, there’s nothing you’re not used to when it comes time to fight.”
Von Flue, a semifinalist on the second season of The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)’s reality television series, is no stranger to pressure situations in competition. During his stint with The Ultimate Fighter, the 31 year old native of San Luis Obispo, California pulled off an upset victory over a far more seasoned Jorge Gurgel.
“I’m stoked to be fighting in what’s like my backyard. I think it’s pretty awesome just to be able to go the full circuit and still be able to fight at home every now and then,” said Von Flue.
Following the conclusion of the television series, Von Flue was awarded a contract with the UFC and, soon after, made his first appearance with the organization during Spike’s live broadcast of “Ultimate Fight Night 3” where he squared off with Boston, Massachusetts native, Alex Karalexis. In the third and final round of their matchup, Von Flue choked out Karalexis.
Von Flue is a product of The Pit, the famed training center that is also home to UFC light heavyweight king, Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell. “I’m an entirely different fighter. I never used to throw punches before I started with him,” said Von Flue of the progression he’s experienced since becoming a student of Pit owner and head trainer, John Hackleman, over three years ago. “Now, I prefer to stand up. I’m more of a striker these days.”
Likewise, Von Flue acknowledged the extent to which he benefited from the rigorous camp he and his competition were put through during the reality series. “It just showed me a different way of training. I learned that we all have our breaking points but, where you break at today, tomorrow you know you can go there and go a little further the next day,” he said. “I’ve always been self-motivated, but I learned to push further and harder. Your body will do anything your mind tells it to. It’s just a matter of your mind saying ‘I want to do it.”
Von Flue is one of two veterans of The Ultimate Fighter scheduled to appear on the Fresno fight card. Bobby Southworth, a semifinalist on the premiere season, will take on Anthony “A-Train” Ruiz, during another “Tank vs. Buentello” contest.
Tickets for the October 7th Strikeforce event are on sale at Ticketmaster (559-485-TIXS) and Ticketmaster online (www.ticketmaster.com) as well as at the Save Mart Center box office and at select Save Mart supermarkets. Tickets are priced at $201.75, $151.75, $101.75, $76.75, $51.75, and $31.75.
The card will be comprised of 10 mixed martial arts bouts including a headlining matchup between heavyweight sluggers, David “Tank” Abbott and Paul “The Headhunter” Buentello. Lightweight stars Josh “The Punk” Thomson and Duane “Bang” Ludwig will battle one another while Wesley “Cabbage” Correira will square off with Ruben “Warpath” Villareal in a heavyweight contest. All bouts 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.