The Norman Transcript

January 27, 2014

Former Olympian and wrestling All-American staying in the MMA fight game

By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — There are very few people from Oklahoma who have a resume that can match Kenny Monday. The Tulsa native is an Olympic Gold medalist, three-time Olympian and a three-time All-American at Oklahoma State. That would be enough laurels to rest on for the rest of his life.

But that isn’t Monday ‘s style. After his wrestling career ended, he got in to Mixed Martial arts in 1997. That began a whole new career that has now brought him to running his own promotion company, BattleGrounds MMA.

“I’ve been involved in wrestling all my life,” Monday said. “So I’ve always loved one on one. I always loved boxing, martial arts. Once the sport (MMA) kind of took off and I saw some of my buddies kind of wrestling and doing so well, I knew there was a sport that I would gravitate to.”

BattleGrounds, which was formed in 2012, hosted its third ever event last weekend at the Riverwind Casino in Norman. In front of a sellout crowd, Monday put on the type of show MMA fans in Oklahoma will flock to on a regular basis.

“I am very impressed with the turnout, the enthusiasm is high,” Monday said. “We sold out. So that’s always a great sign. You put together a fight, you put together a card. We do it for the fans. We want to entertain the fans. It’s a growing fan base in Oklahoma, which I am really excited about. It’s great for our third show.”

While the fans were excited throughout the evening not every fight lived up to the billing. Many ended in the first few minutes of the opening round after fighters got caught in painful positions and were forced to tap out.

But that seemed to only lather up the fans even more. It’s an atmosphere Monday says all sporting fans should experience, regardless of what they’ve heard about the sport.

“I think it’s just open your mind,” Monday said. “Come see for yourself why this is the fastest growing sport in the world. See the competitive level. It’s not like it was 10 years ago when it was just a tough man contest or when guy came in here and were not trained. These guys are trained. You see the skill level.”

Helping Monday promote BattleGrounds was former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) champion Randy Couture.

“I know Kenny Monday from way back,” Couture said. “He was one of my coaches and one of my mentors at OSU. Everything he gets involved with is generally first class. I knew they were going to do a good job.”

Couture, whose son is now a MMA fighter, believes the sport was made for Oklahoma.

“There is a rich tradition and history of combative sports here in Oklahoma,” Couture said. “So it’s an natural fit.”

Monday agrees and says last week’s show will not be the last one in this area.

“It’s a combination of putting together a good card,” Monday said. “And you have to have the talent that people want to come see. It’s just the promotion. Riverwind has done an incredible job with us and promoting the fight. From day one they were enthusiastic about it.”

Michael Kinney

Follow me @eyeamtruth

mkinney@normantranscript.com

 

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