Not too many years ago, UFC and cage fighting events were being banned left and right.
Promoters had to scramble to find locations to house their perceived "blood sport."
Now, cage fighting has hit the mainstream.
Just click on the TV and you'll see UFC events scattered all across the lineup, often even being broadcast on the ESPN family of networks.
Cage fighting has found a home in the southern West Virginia coal fields with Keith Noe and Greg Robinson's New Line Cagefighting NLC, which was founded last July. Both Noe and Robinson are Logan High School graduates.
NLC, a company of KG Promotions, LLC., is scheduled to host its second event this Saturday night at the Williamson Field House.
Bell time is set for 7:30 p.m. and 22 bouts are on the card, including 17 MMA fights, three boxing matches and two kickboxing bouts.
MMA is a blend many disciplines including boxing, wrestling and kick boxing.
"Mixed Martial Arts has evolved from barbaric, organized brawls to the fastest growing sport in the world, mainly due to the growth of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)," said Noe, who is also the Logan High School girls' soccer coach. "MMA has gone from being banned all across the country to full on mainstream. When you think of sports, you think of ESPN. UFC recently signed a 5-year deal with ESPN and everyone is watching it now."
According to its website, NLC has a vision to enhance the fight business and offer the most exciting sporting events for fans and viewers across West Virginia and the rest of the region.
NLC strives to uphold the value of the sport and its fighters.
"We wanted to bring the sport of MMA to the coalfields and give these athletes the chance to compete and make to the next level," Noe said. "We are a local company. Greg and I both are both graduates of Logan High School. We think bringing this sport to the area can help the economy and also give people something to look forward to. We are also putting money back into the local economy as we have sponsored youth sports, church fundraisers and most recently the theater production of CATS in Logan. We are all in when it comes to building up the local economy.
There are four professional MMA fights, scheduled for the the last four bouts of the night, and the four will all serve as co-Main Events.
In one of the pro MMA fights, Logan native Cody Abbott will be making his professional debut against Jacob Willyard (0-3) of St. Louis, Missouri.
As an amateur, Abbott sports a 5-1 record, including four first-round wins and was ranked No. 1 in the state for three plus years in his bantamweight class (126-135 pounds). He's currently ranked 23rd in the East Coast Division.
Abbott, also a former all-state wrestler for Logan High School and also an amateur youth boxer in his teens, last saw MMA action back on March 9 at Williamson when he beat Matthew Tennant, a No. 2-ranked fighter in West Virginia, via decision, in the first New Line Cagefighting event.
In another pro fight, Mingo County's Austin "Speedy" Marcum is matched up against Nikk Willyard of St. Louis. Both will be making their professional debuts. Marcum is no stranger to the ring.
"Austin is a Tug Valley High School graduate and a veteran of 23 professional boxing matches. He is a former Toughman and Rough 'N Rowdy (boxing) Champion," Noe said.
The other two pro MMA bouts have Jeremy Lane (1-0-1) of Charleston taking on Sam Warren (0-0) of Roanoke, Virginia and Montrez Tinson (0-2) of Baltimore squaring off with Ran Ray Holston (0-0) of Wytheville, Virginia.
All four professional MMA fights are scheduled for three five-minute rounds.
The kickboxing fights look like this: Joshua Blair (0-0) of Man takes on Danny Stubbs (0-0) of Beckley; Chris Pontier (0-0) of Nitro fights Joshua Dotson (0-0) of Raccoon, Kentucky; and Austin Bledsoe (0-0) of Chapmanville goes up against Anthony Stewart (0-0) of Varney.
"Joshua Blair is a Man High School graduate and a former Logan Toughman Champion," Noe said. "Austin Bledsoe was a former standout athlete at Chapmanville Regional High School."
The three amateur boxing matches have: Dylan Dowd (0-0) of Madison squaring off with Richie Smith (0-1) of Gilbert; Jose Schultz (0-1) of Madison going up against Larry Barton (3-2) of Berwind; and Ramon "Savage" Burgess (0-0) of Logan fighting Clayton Fields (2-0) of Clendenin.
There also also several interesting amateur MMA bouts, which are scheduled for three two-minute rounds.
Adam Dingess (0-1) of Chapmanville, a former CRHS athlete and two-time Rough 'N Rowdy Boxing Champion, is set to fight Ryan Hall (0-0) of Gilbert.
One women's MMA bout is also on the card, pitting Amanda Maynard (0-0) of Logan against Destinee Spry (0-1), also of Logan.
The first amateur MMA fight between Seaford Smith (0-1) of Madison against Ryan Blankenship (1-4) of Oceana is also the very first bout of the evening.
Other scheduled MMA bouts are: Shawn Estep (0-0) of Logan vs. Zack Craddock (0-0) of Madison; Randall Maynard (0-1) of Logan vs. Jonathan Rowh (0-1) of Fairmont; Ronnie White (0-1) of Williamson vs. Kraig Ellis (0-1) of Dingess; Eric Musick (0-0) of Inez, Kentucky vs. Chase Stafford (0-1) of Oceana; Chase Thompson (1-0) of Madison vs. Austin Baker (1-0) of Chapmanville; Avery Ray (1-0) of Inez, Kentucky vs. Pete DeLeon (0-2) of Jacksonville, North Carolina; Densel Chapman (1-1) of Delbarton vs. Skyler Mauller (0-0) of Crooksville, Ohio; Travis Bender (1-1) of Madison vs. Brian Wiseman (1-3) of Clendenin; and Mikey Mitchell (1-1) of Harts vs. Brandon Boggs (2-0) of Madison.
Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. Follow him on Twitter at @PAdkinsBanner or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org