Mixed Martial Arts is back in the basin, and once again the lineup is loaded with locals. Six South Tahoe fighters will step into the cage Saturday for a MMA amateur showdown at Montbleu Resort, Casino & Spa.South Tahoe resident and soon-to-be pro fighter Corey “White Mamba” Carlson is headlining the event and competing for the Lightweight World Title against former teammate Justin “ Diehard” McClain.Local fighters Chris Cocores, Leo Rodelo, Jordan Kramer, Albert Hernandez, Jose Medina and Cris Montenegro will prelude the main event. "Local crowds are great. It feels like home," Cocores said in an email. "Your opponent is stepping into your backyard, and then you just treat it like any other fight and go do what you got to do."Tickets are $25, doors open at 8 p.m. and the fights start at 9 p.m. But before it all goes down, meet the guys representing South Shore in the cage. Name: Corey "The White Mamba" Carlson Stats: 4-2 record, 160 pounds, 6-foot Trains: Escobar Training Grounds, coach Cory EscobarOpponent: Justin “ Diehard” McClainWhat do you know about your opponent? The only thing I really know about him is he has a background in kickboxing and jujitsu. He trained at our gym two years ago, but I was coming off a knee injury. What's your fight background? Karate. I did karate for three years before I even started thinking about fighting. I was doing construction up here when I was 19, and I had this buddy who introduced me to Mr. Escobar. Karate showed me discipline and gave me respect for a 4,000-year old tradition. As I started to progress with karate, I naturally started to progress with the other aspects of MMA like kickboxing and jiujitsu. How do you get past fear? When you're in front of a couple hundred people and fighting someone, it's a very intense thing. So you have to trust yourself, and the biggest thing is to put yourself through tougher training. The harder you train before a fight is when all the fear goes away because the biggest fear for me is fighting and not having enough cardio to do what I want to do. That's why I lost my first two fights. The only thing that can ruin you mentally would be not training hard enough because you're skills are your skills. So cardio is key? I would say technique is the foundation and cardio is an aspect you can take advantage of. What else is important for a fighter? I mediate a lot because a fight is inevitable. It really is. There's a moment and a time when someone says go and you have to be ready. What I'm trying to grasp in my meditation is playing that over and over, and really being there so when the time does come it's not scary. Most people think fighter fight all the time. Is this true? I've only been in one fight in my life out of the cage, and it was in junior high. I don't really like the idea of street fighting because it's not smart. It's easy for someone to just hit their head on the street and that's it. So no, I don't like street fighting. I hear you're turningpro, what made you want to take the leap? When I hurt my knee I had eight months to sit and think about what I really wanted to do. It really motivated me to start fighting. We had talked about it before, but it took taking it away from me to make me realize how much I wanted it.
Name: Chris Cocores Stats: Record 1-1, 135 pounds, 5-foot-10 Trains: High Sierra Stranglers, coach Chris EgglestonOpponent: Brady Huang Ammy (3-2), San Francisco Dragon HouseHow did you get involved in MMA? Kind of hit a point where I could go one direction or the other, and MMA seemed like a helping hand toward the most positive one at the time. Entry music? My cousin Taylor Cocores, one of his tracks he made for his dad. What is your fighting background? I had some trouble growing up with fighting, always loved to box, and just combined the two and picked up on some opportunities that were put in front of me and just stuck with it till it became something I couldn't really live without.What's the best part of MMA? The best part is constantly reassuring yourself what you're capable of by pushing the boundary further than you thought you could go. Being able to understand what you are capable of and also making your friends and family proud.How do you get past fear? Fear goes away the second the bell rings.What do you think about before a fight? Before a fight, I think about my mom. It's a warm feeling that she'll be there to get my back, pluck me out of a tough situation or maybe throw a little more wind behind one of my punches to get me that knockout.Best moment in the ring? My best moment in the ring was looking over at how proud my dad was after I finished my second fight. Who get most nervous when you take the ring? I've got quite a few people in my life that have a hard time seeing me fight, but probably the worst is my grandma on my mom's side. She tells me all the time she'd forgive me if I quit.Favorite move? I got all kinds of tricks up my sleeve, but my trainer encourages me to keep them to a bare minimum.
Name: Leo Rodelo Stats: Record 1-0, 155 pounds, 5-foot-11 Trains: High Sierra Stranglers, Coach Chris EgglestonOpponent: Matthew Sklover Fighting background? Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.Entry music? Ballerina by Armin Van BuurenHow do you get over nerves before a fight? The more I sit around and think, the more nervous I get. So I get up and do something to not think about the fight.Best moment in the cage? Getting a quick win in my first and only fight, and having the UFC's Herb Dean as a referee for my match.Who gets most nervous for you? My mom. I just try not to talk about it around her. When the subject does come up I just tell her that I can defend myself and I know what I am doing.How is fighting in front of a local crowd different? I've competed in bjj tournaments and a cage fight, and I haven't had a chance to compete here in town. So it's exciting, but I do feel a little more pressure than competing away.What do you gain from fighting? The best part about MMA is staying in really good shape, knowing you have the skills to defend yourself and the confidence it gives you. I just enjoy learning new things. Honestly, it's just fun and it keeps me occupied.Who has been most influential to you as a fighter? My mother. What's it like behind the scenes in the local MMA community? It's just a bunch of guys training hard. The sport is definitely growing fast and there are a lot if tough guys in this town.
Name: Jordan Kramer Stats: First fight, 120 pounds, 5-foot-1 Trains: High Sierra Stranglers, coach Chris Eggleston Opponent: Dillon Baker (Visalia, Calif.)How did you get involved in MMA fighting? I watched it a few times on television, and I always had friends who liked martial arts. I never thought it would come to this point to be honest. It started as us just training in the garage in our spare time to keep ourselves in shape.What do you tell yourself before entering the cage? I train hard, I put in the work, and I'm ready to do this. I've always been the smallest guy in my gym, and I can survive and hold my own. How do you deal with fear? Really the fear is what let's you know you're alive. You go out there and fight somebody and it's scary. If you go out in the cage and you don't feel fear, and you're not scared in any way then you're not alive. What do you gain from MMA? This sport honestly saved my life. When I started training I was really broke and I had nothing going on. I really wasn't even doing that good in life. I was smoking half a pack of cigarettes a day and then I couldn't even afford to smoke anymore. so I started replacing a six minute cigarette with a six minute jog and that's about the same time I started getting involved in martial arts and training in the garage with Chris Cocores.