The rise of mixed-martial arts from unregulated backyard brawls to a multi-billion dollar business has spawned fans and competitors alike. Fans can't wait to see the art form of securing a triangle choke and competitors come into the sport barely knowing what one is.
The excitement of the sport didn't pass by Carson City native Frankie DiMartino, who will fight tonight beginning at 8 p.m. in the Reno Xtreme Fights MMA/boxing event at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno.
"I just watched it on TV and liked it a lot," DiMartino said.
DiMartino's story is like many who have taken to the ring or cage of MMA. He wrestled at Carson High School where he finished fourth in his weight class (105) at the Nevada state wrestling tournament as a sophomore and started to learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, one of the most popular fighting styles in MMA, five years ago.
And though DiMartino has a respectable 2-2 record, he is hardly considered a full-time fighter. His day job is at Small Car Motors off Highway 50 where he typically works a 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. shift. But being the son of the owner definitely has its perks.
"I want to do it as a living, full time," DiMartino said. "I work for my father, we have a car lot there in Carson. He's way flexible. If I need to train in the morning he lets me take off; and train at night."
Aside from his father, DiMartino says his wife helps keep him on a good diet and is one of his biggest supporters. His 9-month-old son is still working on the support side of things.
"Lack of sleep," DiMartino said. "The baby doesn't like to sleep at night."
DiMartino will fight Devin Conkling of Reno, who has a 4-3 record with three wins coming by way of submission. All three of his loses have come by way of submission. DiMartino, who will fight at bantamweight (135.5 pounds), says his experience fighting bigger guys should help in this bout.
"I've always fought at 155," DiMartino said. "The first guy (Bobby Stack) was 2-0 and is fighting on Showtime now. The other fight that I lost was a majority decision and one judge saw it my way, the other two saw it his (Justin Farmer) way.
"I don't think it's an advantage or disadvantage (fighting a guy with a winning record). He's a good fighter and I've talked to him, he's a good guy."
The fight is promoted by Let's Get It On Promotions, which is run by the sons of former Nevada boxing referee and judge Mills Lane, Terry and Tommy.
Aside from DiMartino, Conkling and the Lane brothers, the entire card has a local feel.
McDermitt native Derek Hinkey (8-1) will face Paul Mendez (2-1) in a scheduled six-round middleweight bout. Yerington's Andrew Rempp (1-1-1) will fight Johnny Mancilla (0-0-2) in a four-round junior lightweight bout. Also, Buddy Roberts (6-2) of Reno will face Alijah Reni (5-2) in a heavyweight MMA bout.
"Getting locals on the card makes our event," Tommy Lane said. "They have they're friends and family come out and support them and we're local promoters, it would be terrible for us not to put local fighters on the card as well."
The main boxing bout will pit Brandon Gonzales (9-0) against Victor Villereal (8-4) in a six-round middleweight bout. The main MMA fight will be Ashe Bowman (9-6) vs. Kito Andrews (5-2).
Also on the card is Bayan Jargal (13-0-2) vs Guadalupe Diaz (5-6-3) in a six-round lightweight bout.
"MMA, it would be dumb of us not to explore it at this point," Lane said. "It's so popular. It brings in a fan who probably wouldn't come to a boxing match. The boxing crowd is kind of older, so it's good to bring both fanbases together. At the end of the day all they want to see is a good fight, whether it's boxing or MMA."