A mixed martial arts and wrestling event of what promoters are calling “hard-core cage fighting,” not legally recognized by the California State Athletic Commission prior to December 2005, is scheduled to take place at 5 p.m. Saturday, February 24th, at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 1855 Main St., Santa Monica. Tickets are $30 to $75.

Total Fighting Alliance, the promoters of the event, says there will be ten full contact fights in the “Conflict on the Coast” event, which will feature three of the league’s champions, including featherweight champion Martin Batista, middleweight champion Paul “The Killer” Arras and lightweight champion Jesse Romero. Multiple title fights will be included on the bill.

Mixed martial arts fighting combines elements of wrestling with kick boxing, jujitsu, tae kwon do, karate, aikido, judo and kung fu. Fighters compete in a nine-sided cage and ring.

Mixed martial arts is far more athletic-based than showmanship-based competitions such as many television wrestling shows, says Mark Walter, marketing coordinator for the fighting event and co-owner of Universal Sports Entertainment Group.

“These are extremely well-trained athletes that go through a battery of physical tests. I don’t know if some boxers could handle competing in this sport,” says Walter.

The event after-party will feature a musical performance by Build a Better Spaceship.

Total Fighting Alliance was founded by three South Bay residents, Todd Meacham, Richard Rasmussen and Hal Rasmussen in 2005.

That year, before mixed martial arts was recognized by the California State Athletic Commission, the promoters would host the fighting events at Indian casinos, says Walter.

Meacham scouts out fighters from local martial arts dojos or gyms where boxers train and he personally sets up the matches.

“Conflict on the Coast” will be the first time Total Fighting Alliance has brought a promotion to the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.

Walter says he pushed to have the event held at the Civic because he worked there as a teenager and has fond memories of the venue.

Information, (310) 877-7107.

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