BLYTHE, Calif. - Chris Salazar and Dion Wilson head to Edgewater Casino in Laughlin, Nevada next week to prepare for their Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) matches scheduled for June 14.
Competing in his third amateur match, 29-year-old Salazar returns to the same venue that dealt him his first loss by decision in June 2013, but he says that he is motivated by his three children, his family, and the support of the community.
The son of Salvador and Maria Salazar of Blythe, the younger Salazar grew up with 10 brothers and sisters, and he was always getting into fights.
"I just liked to fight," said Salazar. "But as I got older, I found a different outlet. It's kind of like people playing softball to release stress, I like fighting, and it's better to do it legally, in a cage."
Watching his father boxing professionally as he was growing up, Salazar first started boxing, but later incorporated wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai kickboxing to round out his specialities in the cage. Working with trainers Rafael DeLeon and Jerry Rios at Blythe Fitness Center, Salazar vows to make Blythe proud.
"I'm pretty much a brawler," said Salazar.
When promoter Rudy Arevalo out of Lake Havasu, Arizona, approached the 135-pound, 2003 Palo Verde High graduate about the match back in March 2014, Salazar was ready to accept, but not before he got his team together and made sure everyone was on board and would be able to make it to the event and help train him along the way. Since, Salazar's team gave the green light in April, Salazar spends up to six-plus hours training, seven days a week.
To sweeten the deal, the event organizers asked Salazar if he knew of any 220-pound MMA fighters willing to compete the same day in June. Salazar didn't hesitate and gave them Wilson's name.
Wilson makes his MMA amateur debut next Saturday when he enters the cage. Wrestling is in Wilson's blood, having wrestled for the local PVHS Yellow Jacket squad for four years. In preparation for this event, Wilson spent a week training in San Diego in May with former Blythe residents Ricky and Junior Lule at 10th Planet (Vista, California).
"I want to give them a shout-out because they worked with me in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and they want me to compete and win," said Wilson.
The former street fighters are taking to the cage next week and they invite the community to go to Laughlin and support them. Both of the fighters are personally selling tickets to the match for $25, just contact them on Facebook, or they can be bought at CB Plumbing and Culligan.
Salazar and Wilson appreciate all the help they have received to help them stay motivated and busy. Sponsors include CB Plumbing, Culligan, MT Construction, Blythe Fitness Center, Blythe Fire Department, Blythe Dental Center, Schuster's Welding, Patty's Bar & Grill, Hoodlumz Tattoo Shop, Signs Unlimited, and John Eddy and family.
"We would love to see Blythe up there as we give it our all," said Salazar.