The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Sports

August 5, 2008

Thomas ready for showdown

The dream of a lifetime will come true on Saturday when Indianola native and Jamaica High School graduate Ryan “The Tank Engine” Thomas makes his ultimate fighting debut at UFC 87: Seek and Destroy, a pay per view event being held at the Target Center in Minneapolis.

It will end an amazing week for Thomas, who only found out about the match recently.

“I had told my manager I wanted the summer off because I had fought 14 times in the last 20 months and the average fighter only competes 3 or 4 times a year,” Thomas said. “He then called on Sunday the 27th and asked if I would be interested in fighting in the UFC and I could not believe my dream had come true. It still feels like a dream that I just can’t seem to wrap my head around. I don’t think I will be able to until I get in the octagon and get tagged a few times.”

UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) was founded in 1993 and is the largest Mixed Martial Arts sanctioning body in the word.

MMA is an intense and evolving combat sport in which competitors use interdisciplinary forms of fighting including ju-jitsu, karate, kick boxing, wrestling and other techniques.

Each non title fight is three five minute rounds held inside an enclosed octagon where competitors can win via knockout, submission, or by total points.

Thomas (9-1) will be squaring off in a welterweight (170 pounds) contest with Ben Saunders (5-0-2).

“Jared Rollins was supposed to fight Saunders but withdrew suddenly,” Thomas said. “Saunders was featured on season six of The Ultimate Fighter on Spike TV and I never missed an episode. I never thought I would get the chance to fight him.

“He is good at striking and ju-jitsu and my ju-jitsu and Muay Thai are good but wrestling is my strongest skill and I feel his weakest. Saunders I think is a good match up for me. He has the height advantage and has had months to prepare to my 12 days, but I’m stronger and my wrestling gives me a strategic advantage.

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