Three Blythe-based fighters are hitting their respective training camp strides in anticipation of the upcoming King of the Cage “River Wars” MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) event at the Parker, Ariz., BlueWater Resort & Casino amphitheater May 18.
Locals Bryce “Blessed” Callaghan, along with brother Brooks Callaghan, and fellow Adrians Boxing Gym teammate Tray Black are currently in the midst of honing and refining their skills to prepare for their upcoming bouts.
More recently, following a tough loss in a bid for the 145-lbs. California Cage Wars title earlier this year, Bryce Callaghan attended an amateur team try-out session with renowned MMA gym Team Quest in Temecula, Calif.
“There were 60 kids there, so when I first showed up I thought, ‘Hm, it’s going to be tough.’ But I’m confident, so I went out there and gave it all I got. Luckily, I was the first pick,” said Callaghan, who will be facing Ryan Shatto at a 150-lbs. catchweight bout on May 18. “The teammates, in general, are insane. High level amateurs, high level pros — Some are even in Bellator right now, so I’m excited. I’ll probably be moving out there sometime in early June, after this fight in May.”
Notably, Team Quest is helmed by former Olympic wrestler, Pride Fighting Championship welterweight and middleweight champion, MMA legend and UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) Hall of Famer Dan Henderson.
“To see that I have Dan Henderson’s number in my phone is still unreal. I used to watch that man in Pride and all that; now he’s one of my coaches? That’s crazy,” said Callaghan. “I’m excited. But I feel like this next fight (on May 18) is a must-win. Especially coming off that last loss.”
For fellow Blythe teammate Black, MMA has come as a welcome disciplined lifestyle over former neighborhood scraps.
“Fighting in the streets, getting in trouble for it — (but) then one of my friends came to me and asked if I wanted to get in a cage and make something of it. So I said I’d give it a try,” said Black, who will be fighting at 140-lbs. “(After my first loss), I got to meet (Quinton) Rampage (Jackson) and he gave me some real encouraging words. He said, ‘Is this what you like to do? Don’t just go in there trying to beat up people. Go in there and have fun. Make it worth your while.’ So I thought about it, then came out here to Blythe and started training with Bryce. Then I met Shawn Garrett — I see how far they are, and I’m trying to get where they’re at. Bryce is a great person to talk to, always giving encouraging words, really good person to have by your side. (…) Now it’s a lifestyle.”
With training dialed-in for May 18, the local fighters will continue their journey toward “River Wars” and beyond.
“(MMA) pushes me; it makes me look at things differently. But I’m always into learning new things,” said Black, who will face Chris Meyers on May 18. “I was taking bad routes. But being around Bryce, Adrian (Melendrez), Brooks, they teach you there’s more to life than that (…) I look at Blythe like there’s still hope. There’s still hope here.”