South Lake Tahoe fighters aim to ‘go pro’ |

South Lake Tahoe fighters aim to ‘go pro’

Susanne Haala
Joe Proudman / Tahoe Daily Tribune

Cory Escobar, owner and coach at Escobar Training Grounds, is confident that fighters Ryan Nicholas McCarthy and Corey Jack Carlson will be successful in their upcoming fights.

“Ryan and Corey have been training like the top pros, they will be victorious,” he said of McCarthy and Carlson, South Lake Tahoe residents who will fight separately on March 16 at the Fight Republic IV at Harrah’s Resort Reno.

The two mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters have trained five times per week for several hours to be ready to face their opponents in the cage.

“I am excited for the fight” McCarthy, 31, said of his goal to win the 155-pound lightweight championship belt in MMA.

In Reno he will be facing 18-year-old Sean Shamrock, son of Ultimate Fighting Championship legend Ken Shamrock, who has been undefeated in all of his fights so far.

“I don’t fear him and I am not too worried,” McCarthy said. “I saw him fighting and I wasn’t impressed.”

After Shamrock said that McCarthy might get possibly knocked out on March 16, McCarthy is even more motivated to win the fight.

“I am mostly fighting for my family and friends, and especially for my dad,” said McCarthy, whose father suffers from cancer. “This is probably the last time my dad gets to see me fighting, so I’m definitely fighting for him.”

“After I win the belt, I want to take a Pro fight,” said McCarthy who currently holds a score of 3 wins and 1 loss.

His strategy training focuses on what he calls “wrestling in reverse,” which means he aims to stay standing during the fight.

McCarthy, who works as a general manager at the MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa and as a bartender at Opal, is originally from New York. He moved to South Lake Tahoe eight years ago.

“I miss the people out there, but I love to walk my dog in the mountains,” he said.

To stay in shape he goes snowboarding, golfing, or on a hiking tour with his teammates from Escobar Training Grounds.

“I love it here, I can’t really leave this place,” he said. “Escobar Training Grounds, my coach, Cory Escobar, and my teammates are amazing. They really welcomed me with open arms. And my teammate Corey is a bruiser with great potential for the future.”

Corey Carlson, 24, who joined the Escobar Training Grounds five years ago, will be fighting for a 160-pound record in Reno.

Just like McCarthy, Carlson’s main focus on the fight will be the standup.

“I throw a lot of kicks,” he said “My kicks are really strong because of my karate background.”

Carlson found his way into MMA after he blew his ACL out during karate and needed surgery. He had to take a five-month break that gave him time to think about what he wanted to do after he recovered.

When he recovered, he decided that he wanted to fight in a cage.

“There is a lot of injuries involved, that’s for sure,” Carlson said of the way he found into MMA a year and a half ago. “When I walked into Escobar five years ago, I had no idea I would do MMA one day.”

“MMA is my big goal, I wanna make it to the UFC and hopefully be a champion.”

Besides fighting in a cage, Carlson teaches young kids every Saturday at Escobar Training Grounds.

“He is an incredible teacher with the kids,” Escobar said of Carlson. “He’s being a good dude, he helps the kids all the time. He is a big part of the children’s community and not only a tough guy.”

Carlson and McCarthy both agree that MMA requires training for all situations in the cage. For that reason, both fighters take lessons in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with Coach Leo Loquez at Escobar Training Grounds and boxing coach Martin Franco.

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