Mixed Martial Artists prepare to unleash

Sheridan, Beaver fighting in Gladiator Challenge
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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Chris Sheridan listens to the boom of the speakers reverberate off the octagon cage he stands in. He feels out the elasticity of the mat below his feet, and drinks in the cheers of anticipation bellowed by the crowd. Six days a week of two-a-day practices, pushing cars, throwing monster truck tires and perfecting his craft have all brought him to this moment. He stares his opponent in the eyes, reads his body language and expression for signs of weakness, and channels the ferocity he’ll need to unleash. For Sheridan, who is essentially a modern day gladiator, it’s kill or be killed. His opponent for the Mixed Martian Arts Gladiator Challenge Unleashed Middleweight title, James Franshier, is all that stands between him and the next level in his sport — big pay days, pay-per-view fights and the UFC. Sheridan, 27, who trains at Auburn Martial Arts Center, has played out the victory scene is his head many times. It’s why he has taken it upon himself to master boxing, kickboxing, jiu-jitsu, judo and wrestling — and fuse them together in dangerous combinations. Franshier may have 40 wins to Sheridan’s five-for-six, but Sheridan said he is younger, and hungrier, for the title. “I think he has got to be the best I have fought yet,” Sheridan said. “I am looking forward to that — the next one to take. Whoever can get used to their surroundings first and read their opponent the quickest has the advantage.” If confidence were the only barometer for a title, Sheridan would be a shoe-in. He is on an upward climb toward the pinnacle of his career. “I don’t have any weaknesses. There are things I could get better at, but I’m not a slouch at anything,” Sheridan said. “I made sure I knew what I was doing when I got into this. I definitely use anger because I feel it’s the strongest emotion for fighting. I’m just working on being focused and if I have to use an emotion, it’s anger.” Dan Lovas, Sheridan’s manager and the owner of Auburn Martial Arts Center, said Sheridan has every reason to be confident. The clash, August 27 at Thunder Valley Casino Resort, could very well be his ticket to the big time. Many UFC fighters have gotten their start in the Gladiator League, and end up there toward the end of their careers. If he doesn’t make it as a professional fighter, Sheridan said he’ll fall back on his bachelor’s degree from the University of Nevada. He is also taking classes toward becoming a nurse. “You have to have a fallback plan,” Sheridan said. “You could get in a car accident like that.” Lovas doesn’t think Sheridan will need that fallback anytime soon. “I think he’ll come home with the belt,” Lovas said. “The first attribute that comes to mind is he is like a Greek god in stature. He is about two percent body fat. He is stronger than all of his opponents. He has a strength advantage, and you add a youth advantage to that.” Lovas said becoming an elite mixed martial artist means being a jack of all trades. “You have to be at expert-level at all of these different disciplines to do well or it’s a weakness,” Lovas said. “Some people like to wrestle, some people like to box. In MMA you have to do it all.” Bear River graduate and former wrestler Jordan Beaver is also headed to the brawl at Thunder Valley. He started training at Auburn Martial Arts Center in 2009. He’ll be clashing with Kory Morford for the chance to show where his own 6-day-a-week, 2 to 3-a-day practices have gotten him. He hopes to be headlining fights one day. “I’m kind of just relentless,” Beaver said. “I have really got a chance to show my striking. I don’t really know too much about him. He is big. The game plan is to use my speed.” Beaver said he found something in mixed martial arts that other sports couldn’t offer. His original reasons for trying it out were pretty simple. “Learn self-control and self-confidence, just to defend myself,” Beaver said. “I can’t fight on the street.” For fans, Beaver said the Gladiator Challenge has plenty of action to offer. “It’s like a modern-day gladiator,” Beaver said. “It’s fun. Just have a good time. Reach Sara Seyydin at