CASA GRANDE — The Cobra Fight Club is slowly making a name for itself in the mixed martial arts community.
On Saturday a handful of Pinal County fighters hope to add to the growing collection of belts on display at the gym.
Carl Hayden Community High School in Phoenix will host the West Valley Rumble which will showcase 13 Muay Thai fights and 25 Jujitsu matchups.
Jonathan Ploof will be the only member from the CFC participating in Jujitsu as he will face off against Kyle Stewart.
Competing in Muay Thai for the CFC are Morgan Lucio, Fernando Llamas, Terry “The Phoenix” Cartwright, Dakota Gonzalez and Kody Wayne.
Morgan Lucio will face Olivia Onofrel in the only girl matchup in Muay Thai.
The 11-year-old from Arizona City is the daughter of CFC’s trainer Armando Lucio.
Morgan Lucio has grown up around combat sports because some of her uncles and her dad own gyms.
“I just like being in the ring and fighting,” Morgan Lucio said. “It just makes me feel good and it’s comfortable for me to be in there because I’ve been doing this for a long time.”
Morgan Lucio has been fighting since she was 6 years old and also competes in kids MMA.
While Morgan is in the ring, Armando is always nearby trying to help her out as the coach but he admits that it’s difficult for him to separate his feelings as both her coach and her dad.
“I get sad when she gets hit hard because she’s my baby girl still,” Armando Lucio said. “But she’s done so well and she’s been doing this since she was 6 and so I know she’ll be fine. When she’s out there she’s a whole different animal, it’s like she turns on a switch. She goes in there and wants to destroy somebody, she gets out of there and wants to go get ice cream.”
Llamas is a 14-year-old out of Eloy who will be fighting his first match on Saturday.
Llamas took a brief break from his fighting career to try out other sports such as football, wrestling and track but ultimately decided to come back after he noticed that Armando Lucio was posting about different matches.
“It’s my first Muay Thai fight, I’ve never fought in Muay Thai,” Llamas said of his matchup on Saturday. “I’m excited to put on a show for everyone.”
Llamas used to practice boxing before he turned to Muay Thai. Armando Lucio feels confident that Llamas is finally ready for his first match because he is now a little older and bigger than when he first started.
Cartwright was born in England but now resides in Casa Grande and has an extensive military background.
He was medically retired from the Army in 2015 after he was in a serious car accident.
“I got hit from behind and rolled my car 10 to 15 times then hit a tree at 60,” Cartwright said. “I wasn’t supposed to walk away from that car accident at all, I couldn’t walk for a little over a year. That’s where my name The Phoenix comes from.”
Cartwright barely got into martial arts last year and has bounced around between training gyms, but he believes he’s finally found the perfect spot at CFC.
“Everybody acts like family,” Cartwright said. “You don’t have the grudges like all the other gyms have. A lot of the other gyms that I’ve been at they have those particular groups that stick together and those are the only ones that work together. Here, everybody works with everybody, there’s none of those little cliques.”
Gonzalez also lives in Casa Grande and also helps Armando Lucio coach some of the other fighters when he’s not the one in the ring.
“I love Muay Thai,” Gonzalez said. “I love striking and I love hitting somebody in the mouth. Everything about it is human chess. You have to be smart. A lot of people think it’s just a fist fight, but what I really love is outsmarting somebody. I like knowing I’m getting the better of them and they can’t do anything about it.”
Gonzalez has fought in Muay Thai throughout his six years of training, but this will actually be his first fight with a coach and it is his first time being with a team.
“It’s like playing a video game,” Gonzalez said of having a coach. “He has the controller in his hand and I’m just listening. Everything that he tells me to do I know I have to do it in order to win.”
Armando Lucio added that it is important to develop a trust for them to be able to all work together.
“He has to be able to trust my judgment in corner that I’m not going to get him knocked out, and I have to trust that he’s going to listen to me,” Armando Lucio said.
Doors for the WVR open at 2 p.m with the first Muay Thai match set to begin at 3 p.m. After a brief intermission, once all Muay Thai fights are complete, Jujitsu will follow with a scheduled start time of 6 p.m.