'Peg fighters on Cage card

SCOTT UNGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:56 AM ET

Tonight at the Winnipeg Convention Centre, 16 men will transform from their daily working lives into testosterone-bursting fighting machines, ready to kick the snot out of their opponent when the bell rings.

Local fighting promoter Tony Condello's professional mixed martial arts Ultimate Cage Wars: Natural Invasion comes to life this evening and two Winnipeg grapplers are on the card in separate bouts.

"It's a little nerve-wrecking," said local fighter Steve Taylor, who will fight Neil Berry of Lethbridge, Alta.

"The weigh-ins are done, so now it's pig out time."

Taylor weighed-in at 167 lbs. yesterday, while Berry was 171. Mixed martial arts fighters, the best of whom compete in the popular Ultimate Fighting Championship, have been known to add up to 20 pounds between the weigh-in and the fight.

As for the match, Taylor isn't expecting it to go anywhere near the three five-minute rounds it is scheduled for.

"I am under 3:07 for all of my fights," he said, adding Berry usually works at an equally quick pace.

"He's 5-4 and everything, win or lose, has been done in the first two and a half minutes of the first round.

"It's either that or we're going to get a double whammy and have three five-minute rounds, Murphy's Law."

The majority of mixed martial arts fights don't go the full three rounds.

The other fight this evening that features a Winnipegger will happen when hometown boy Lindsay Hawkes tangles with Toronto's Rory McDonell following the Taylor-Berry fight. While Hawkes will let it all out tonight, yesterday he was tight lipped about how he sees the battle playing out.

"I'm not telling," Hawkes said when asked how he feels about his match up with McDonell.

Hawkes, who just finished a Kinesiology degree from the University of Winnipeg, is 1-2 as a pro mixed martial arts fighter after making the transition from Thai Boxing.

"I was a little better at that," he said in jest.

"We're going to pick it up a bit tomorrow night. Go .500 and then get a winning record again."

Hawkes has been training at the Winnipeg Academy of Mixed Martial Arts with his coach Curtis Brigham, who says his fighter is ready to impress the local crowd.

"He's become quite well-rounded with his striking and grabbling skills," Brigham said. "It's going to be exciting."

Before the card tonight at 8:30 p.m., fans can meet UFC heavyweight champion Randy "The Natural" Couture at 6:30 p.m.

As of late yesterday, there were still tickets available through Ticketmaster.


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