Church in final amateur fight headlines WFC 96 at MontBleu Lake Tahoe | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Church in final amateur fight headlines WFC 96 at MontBleu Lake Tahoe

Local fighters (from left) Andreli Lomibao, Nikki Cruz, Cris Montenegro, Ryan Wallace, Cameron Church and Carlos Trejo will compete Saturday, Nov. 3, at MontBleu Casino Resort and Spa.
Bill Rozak / Tahoe Daily Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Cameron Church has been bloodied. He’s been bruised. But he’s never been beaten.

He’s pummeled all of his opponents in the ring, in his own personal Church of Beatdowns.

He’s given everything he has to fighting for the last five years, including four to five hours of training five days a week at Escobar Training Grounds.

And that’s after his full-time job.

The South Lake Tahoe resident has put in his time as an amateur and he’s ready to make the next step.

Church on Saturday, Nov. 3, is headlining WFC 96 at MontBleu Casino Resort and Spa in his last amateur fight. He expects to win just like his 14 other bouts.

“It’s going to be glorious like it usually is,” Church said Wednesday night. “I have only envisioned one outcome and its something I’ve done lots of times. I love fighting at MontBleu with the energy from the crowd, and of course the after party.”

He wants Saturday to be a celebration of his amateur career and has already given notice to his employer that Dec. 1 will be his last day.

“I’m getting ready to make this a career and go full-time,” Church said. “I’ve already put in notice at work and after this fight, I will be dedicating 100 percent of my time to it. I’m already living as a pro; the difference is I’ll have some time off to recover. I’ll have some free time as a pro instead of having to work two full-time jobs.”

Gym owner Cory Escobar has been training Church since he started five years ago and has seen a big transformation between then and now.

Church recently attained his brown belt faster than anyone ever in the 12 years Escobar has operated his gym.

“When he first came in, he was a beginner, wasn’t as healthy with eating and lifestyle habits,” Escobar said. “Now he’s one of the most disciplined people I’ve ever met. He’s a true champion. Nobody works harder. He really does it all.”

Since he starting fighting competitively, Church has accumulated four kickboxing titles and is 10-0 in that discipline.

He is 4-0 with two separate Mixed Martial Arts belts, one a king of the cage world title and another at 155 pounds, where he will be defending his title Saturday night.

His opponent, Escobar says, is really good and “I think he’s going to try to stand up with Cameron. It should be a fun match to watch.”

Church is hoping that his challenger is a “banger” and wants to stand toe-to-toe. The bout is scheduled to go five, three-minute rounds, although Church has never been pushed the distance in MMA. He has finished his opponents by knock out or submission.

“He’s relentless, he’s always pushing forward,” Escobar said. “He is just a relentless machine. He trains that way and he fights that way. He is very good at committing to his combinations, which means he’s getting off four to six hits at a time. And with his power, that could be the end of the night.”

Church is hungry for the victory, and is just plain hungry. He was already fantasizing Wednesday night during his weight cut about binging after the fight.

“Ben and Jerry’s for breakfast, pizza for lunch, Thai food, I have that fantasy, but as soon as that week is done, I get back into camp,” Church said.

Church is headlining Saturday and will fight in the main event, but five of his teammates from Escobar’s will also get in the ring including Cris Montenegro, Andreli Lomibao, Nikki Cruz, Ryan Wallace and Carlos Trejo.

“Everybody has been working real hard,” Escobar said. “They’re a real close team, we all work together. There’s a lot of camaraderie in this gym. Another cool thing is the support the fighters get from the kids around here, because we have a lot of kids in this gym. The fighters say hi, sign posters, it’s really cool.”

After Saturday night, Church will binge and then start his new life, training two to three times per day.

He’s looking at January for his professional debut.

“I don’t know what it will be like,” Church said about turning pro. “It will feel like I completed a goal, but that’s just the beginning of another set of goals. It’s kind of humbling. I worked my way through the amateur ranks, and it’s going to be humbling from having all these credentials to being the bottom of the totem pole again, but that will light a new fire.”