South Tahoe fighter lightweight champ
For the Tribune
RENO, Nev. – Ryan McCarthy stepped into the ring on Friday night with a chance to bolster his amateur MMA fighting status and lift the spirits of his father, who is in a battle against cancer.
The Escobar Training Grounds fighter was on a mission bigger than his lightweight title fight against Sean Shamrock, son of UFC Hall of Famer Ken Shamrock. As co-main event at the Fight Republic 4 card Friday night at Harrah’s Reno, McCarthy was motivated and determined for victory in what could’ve been the last battle that his father may physically attend.
When it was over, McCarthy was crowned Fight Republic lightweight champion.
In front of a sold-out convention room of 1,300 and a herd of fans from Lake Tahoe, the 31-year-old McCarthy came out and imposed his physical strength on the 18-year-old Shamrock. The fight went to the ground after the first minute of the opening bell, and McCarthy craftily kept position as he fought off Shamrock’s sweep attempts. The second stanza looked similar as a stand-up clinch drove the fighters to the ground with McCarthy in the dominant position. The South Lake fighter caught Shamrock at 2:27 into the second round, when Shamrock failed in an attempt to secure the leg of McCarthy, who locked a choke hold that forced the young Shamrock to tap.
“The fight went great and couldn’t go any better; it kinda went the way I expected,” McCarthy said on Monday. “I was surprised he (Shamrock) made it two rounds. It was definitely fun.”
It was a coming out party for McCarthy and his camp, Escobar Training Grounds, which is based in South Lake Tahoe. For his coach Corey Escobar and boxing instructor Martin Franco, the only joy was for McCarthy’s hard work having paid off. The now 4-1 fighter plans on a title defense or two before entering the pro MMA ranks. This was McCarthy’s fourth-straight win, who began fighting after a 10-year hiatus from competitive wrestling. His lone loss came in his first MMA bout. Shamrock, who fell to 2-1, will look to regroup as he looks to better balance his college and training schedule in the future.
Susanne Haala contributed to this report.