CASA GRANDE — It will be a tale of two local mixed martial arts fighters on Sunday afternoon in Phoenix as Zezar Lopez and Daniel Fessler compete in the RUF MMA 41 Summer Showdown.
Lopez, from Cobra Fight Club in Casa Grande, is considered a seasoned veteran in the sport, whereas Fessler from Warriors Guild Martial Arts — also in Casa Grande — recently turned 18 and will make his amateur debut.
“I’ve been waiting for this,” Fessler said. “I’ve been wanting to do this for so long. This guy is going to be toughest guy I’ve ever faced, and that’s very exciting. I’m excited to test myself. Win, lose or draw, I guarantee this is going to be entertaining.”
He added he does get a bit nervous the night before a fight, but that quickly goes away once he throws some punches.
Fessler has been training with Jerry Porter at Warriors Guild for the past four years but has practiced Muay Thai and wrestling with his dad since he was about 3 years old.
“I always been scrappy,” Fessler said. “I was kind of friends with everyone, and everyone wants to pick on everyone, so I got into a lot of fights, all the time. One day I was watching Anderson Silva in the UFC and he dropped a guy, and I was like, ‘I want to do that, that was dope.’”
Fessler has competed in karate, Muay Thai and other events. He told PinalCentral that he spends most of his time training whether that’s at Warriors Guild or at home, just shadow boxing or jumping rope.
“I’m hoping that I have a little bit of an edge with all this experience,” he said. “This guy is really, really athletic and I’m not a slouch or anything, but my experience plays a factor because I’ve done a ton of competitions.”
Fessler and Lopez will compete at 125 pounds. Fessler will face Dionee Marrero, and Lopez will face Brandan Olivas at Celebrity Theatre.
“I’m looking forward to fighting (Olivas),” Lopez said. “For a long time, he was the champion in this specific organization, and he was ranked No. 1 in the state up until this last card. We feel that we have a lot to prove to ourselves and to the community, that we’re not just another fighter; we’re the fighter. That’s what really motivates me to fight an opponent at his caliber.”
Lopez already has a handful of MMA fights under his belt and continued to train endlessly over the past year during the pandemic.
“Something that’s changed from the last camp to this camp is we’ve incorporated more wrestling,” Lopez said. “I started wrestling at Olympus Wrestling down in Eloy, and we’ve been going two times a week for the past couple of months.”
Lopez said Olivas is a brown belt in jiu-jitsu and is going to try to take the fight to the mat. Lopez has wrestled for the past 10 years and mentioned that he’s not intimidated being off his feet.
“If you really want to be good at anything that you do, you have to compete,” he said. “Practicing and training is one thing, but competing is something completely different. I feel that being active has helped me remain sharp and not only that, but it’s helped me grow a lot. I’m not the same fighter I was a year ago.”
This will be Lopez’s sixth fight in the past two years. He said during this past year of training he’s added more to his arsenal and is no longer afraid of going right at his opponent. Lopez is undefeated in the RUF events.
“It’s a really big deal to me because I take this sport very seriously,” he said. “I always say I hate losing more than I like winning. Obviously, there’s going to be times where you lose but right now, we’re going to ride the undefeated wave for RUF MMA. It’s a huge confidence booster, but you have to believe in yourself before you go out there.”
The event begins at 3 p.m. and will be full capacity, featuring 15 fights including international and local talent as well as professional and amateur competitors. Tickets are available on the Celebrity Theatre website and can also be accessed at rufnation.com, where there is also a pay-per-view option.