Mike Easton Is Set to Fight Josh Ferguson in a UWC Bout in Fairfax
Friday, April 24, 2009
Lloyd Irvin circled the ring and held out a pair of padded gloves as he mouthed a series of nearly inaudible cadences.
Each of Irvin's counts drew a different kind of kick from Mike Easton, a 25-year-old fighter from Anacostia who has been training under Irvin for eight years at Irvin's Temple Hills martial arts school.
A set of punching bags, a few grappling dummies, a ring and a hexagonal cage are hidden away in the back room of this 10,000-square-foot facility. The walls are painted blood red with murals of jackals eating each other. There's a simple slogan painted just underneath a line of windows that give a panoramic view of the no-nonsense neighborhood that wraps around this run-down strip mall.
"Hard Work Will Beat Talent When Talent Refuses to Work Hard."
Easton has made this room a second home as he adheres to a training camp regimen involving intense two-hour workouts four times a day, starting at 6 a.m. and ending at roughly 10 p.m., seven days a week.
"Living the life of a fighter is hard," said Easton, who will fight Josh "Taz" Ferguson in the main event of tomorrow's Ultimate Warrior Challenge 6: Capital Punishment, an eight-card mixed martial arts event at George Mason University's Patriot Center in Fairfax.
Easton is a 5-foot-5, 135-pound powerhouse of densely packed muscles, a showman who would be better known for his hard-swinging standup style and flashy jump-kicks if not for the signature speedo he wears into the ring. He is both Irvin's and UWC's "chosen one."
With a victory tomorrow and continued success, Easton's growing popularity could soon land him in a UFC or World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) promotion, giving UWC promoters and Irvin tangible evidence that the combination of their business ventures can take a fighter from the streets to the octagon.
Easton, who has been the headliner or the co-main event in all three of UWC's cards at Patriot Center since 2008, forced Justin Robbins to submit in front of 6,248 fans during February's card to improve to 7-1.
"I was a 17-year-old kid coming in and all I wanted to do is fight," Easton said. "I saw the UFC and said that's what I want to do and, so Master Lloyd put me through the gantlet and I just stayed tough and hung in there. This has changed my life."
Because UFC does not have a 135-pound weight class, WEC is a more likely destination for Easton.
"We're looking for new talent that are not only guys that can win, but guys that are exciting to watch and can compete at our level," said WEC co-founder and general manager Reed Harris, who was prohibited from talking specifically about Easton because of tampering rules. "Now guys are coming in and immediately they are contenders, even on the undercards. Now, guys come in and they are fighting top 10 [ranked] guys."