Benito Lopez: Fulfilling A Dream One Nightmare at A Time

When the half-and-half hairstyle of Benito ‘Golden Boy’ Lopez (6-0) hits the pillow after a grueling practice, the needed rest allows the bantamweight to recharge his battery, and a reoccurring nightmare, in the midst of training camp, sharpens his deadly senses while competing inside the cage.

On Episode 25 of the @norcalfightmma Podcast (link here), Lopez, prior to headlining King of the Cage (KOTC): Flashback on June 24, 2017, appeared on the show to provide an overview of what his swelling fanbase can expect when counting down the days until he meets Musa Toliver (10-11-1) as the main attraction inside Oroville, California’s Gold Country Casino. In addition to highlighting his preparations for facing an opponent with nearly quadruple the professional bouts, ‘The City of Gold’s fighting pride tucked listeners in with a story about a nightmare, encountered at least once, over the course of every eight-week training camp that, in Lopez’s opinion, elevates his game to another level.

He began, “I have the same nightmare just about every fight camp, and I feel like that nightmare helps me stay motivated.”

Of course, honing his craft alongside Team Alpha Male and amassing, even back to his days as an amateur, an undefeated record firms Lopez’s confidence to continue to pursue his pipe dream as a prizefighter, but he can’t escape the eerie feeling this particular night terror etches into his psyche:

“I’m backstage. My opponent is already in the cage. They’re calling me out, and I can’t find my coaches anywhere. I know in my mind that I didn’t train.” At this moment, a hint of anxiety—visible if viewing on NorCal MMA’s YouTube channel (link here)—seared Lopez’s face, keen to: the worst had yet to come, “I can’t find my coaches; I can’t find my mouthpiece. I’m just super unprepared.”

In reality, Lopez is as fit as a fiddle, and the strategy for Toliver, his most experienced opponent to date, will veer little, if at all, from the path of his previous two, destructive outings in the heart of Gold Country Casino’s deafening atmosphere:

Before the bell rings at KOTC: Flashback and Lopez glistens under their bright lights, he illustrated his thought process while awaiting the sound of his alarm clock, alerting him to the next day’s mat session.

“In my mind, I know I have to finish him early, or I’m going to gas out. But the crowd doesn’t know that.They’re all screaming, ‘Oh, you’re going to kill him! You’re undefeated!’ Then, in my mind, I’m like, ‘Damn…I have to finish him really quick.’ It’s just a scary dream. Then, when I walk to the cage, I wake up.”

If, for some reason, you were sleepy before Lopez’s walkout music cracks over the speakers, the high-voltage cheers from of his followers will zap you into an alert state.

Win, lose, or draw; always remember: Dream big!

For information about tickets, go to:


A Whirlwind Week for Many NorCal Mixed Martial Artists

More bells rang this week than any schoolyard, and many of Northern California’s mixed martial artists scattered throughout the region, and country, to instruct MMA fans of an invaluable lesson: pay attention to those from the upper half of ‘The Golden State’ when the cage door clicks.

Tachi Palace Fights 31: Diaz vs. Gibson




Adrian Diaz

Adrian Diaz (11-4-1) versus Cody ‘The Renegade’ Gibson (15-7), Champion versus Champion, invited spectators seated around Tachi Palace’s cage and streaming the state’s highest profile promotion on YouTube to a memorable match-up for the TPF Featherweight Title. A back-and-forth contest that became a narrative etched in MMA’s historic pages after Team Alpha Male’s Diaz, the reigning TPF Featherweight Champion, defended his 145-pound title by sinking in a the third-round (?) guillotine finish, and Gibson, the reigning TPF Bantamweight Champion and prizefighter who reached the sport’s peak, entered into retirement immediately after the loss.

Tyler Diamond

Tyler Diamond (8-0) dug deep to deliver a Fight of the Night performance against Nathan ‘Superman’ Stolen (6-1). Stolen showcased crafty escapes in the grappling exchanges and a chin constructed of granite, but Diamond’s wrestling and four-ounce doses of dynamite was ‘Superman’s kryptonite.

Angel DeAnda

Angel ‘The Dream’ DeAnda (18-5) met Mike ‘Chunk’ Morales (7-7-1) to generate one of the more exciting, of several, first-round finishes at TPF 31. Morales, known as ‘Chunk,’ trimmed the fat off any wasted time, stalking forward and attempting to concoct a nightmare for ‘The Dream.’ DeAnda, the GKO Middleweight Champion who bounces between the middleweight and light heavyweight divisions, demonstrated why you should never sleep on this heavy-hitting talent from Last Stand Fight Team.

Buddy Wallace

Last Stand Fight Team’s Randall ‘Braveheart’ Wallace (14-6) never paused a relentless pursuit of JC ‘The Leg Lock Monster’ Llamas (8-7). Wallace (14-6), embraced as ‘Buddy,’ highlighted: he has no friends while sealed inside a steel cage. Damaging Llamas’ eye with a gruesome cut, the doctors called a halt to the welterweight clash.

Joe Neal

Following a year away from the office and a two-fight losing streak, Joe ‘Nine Lives’ Neal (6-2), with the guidance of El Nino Training Center, landed on his feet in the middle of TPF 31’s canvas where he batted Alex ‘First Blood’ Rojas (4-6) around like a ball of string, eventually earning the TKO stoppage early in the second round.

Invicta Fighting Championships 23: Porto vs. (?)





Yaya Rincon

The beauty in toughness was broadcasted on UFC Fight Pass when Yaya Rincon (1-0) successfully debuted as a professional when facing Brooksie ‘The Bear’ Bayard (1-2) in the all-female MMA promotion. Rincon revved at a higher RPM than Bayard for the entirety of fifteen minutes, likely due to her training with MMAGOLD’s Condition & Nutrition Specialist: Coach Doug Casebier, and she earned the unanimous decision victory.

Kelly Faszholz

From the UFC to Invicta FC 23, the fans were in for a treat when bantamweights Kelly Faszholz (4-2) and Elizabeth Phillips (6-5) collided in the center of the Scottish Rite Temple. Though Fascholz’s face wore some damage, she proudly represented the grit and grind harvested out of NorCal Fight Alliance as she marched Phillips from one side of Invicta’s cage to the other—broken hand and all.

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Whelp…that sucks

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Gladiator Challenge: Contenders







Josh Appelt

Josh ‘The Juggernaut’ Appelt (14-6) protected his Gladiator Challenge Heavyweight Title against Shannon ‘The Cannon’ Ritch (55-84), a longtime veteran of the sport. Appelt tapped into his own wealth of knowledge, both experiential and cultivated within Team Alpha Male’s walls, to return to his championship glory to its resting place on his mantel.

Matt Wagy

For the sixth consecutive time, Matt Wagy (9-4), a featherweight on fire from Team Alpha Male, had his hand raised in the wake of a thirty-second knockout. Wagy wants to remain active; therefore, he’s already contracted an appearance at Conquer Fighting Championships, Conquer 4, where he’ll face JT ‘Grandma’s Boy’ Donaldson next month.

Other Team Alpha Male Standouts at Gladiator Challenge: Contenders Include:

 Angelo ‘Baby Monsta’ Trevino (4-2) was victorious by way of TKO.






Nico ‘Guerreiro’ Lozada (3-3) completed the job with a first-round rear-naked choke.

Salaiman ‘Afghan Assassin’ Ahmadyar (4-0) remained undefeated when he scored a unanimous decision.





Omar ‘Mr. Fantastic’ Hussein (1-0) made his pro debut in emphatic fashion, TKOing his opposition in the opening frame of the fight.






FSF (Fighters Supporting Fighters): The New Beginning







Vince Murdock

Vince ‘Mush’ Murdock (10-3) returned to his home state of Michigan from his home-away-from-home, Team Alpha Male, to flood everyone’s memory with the tenacity he brings between the bells when he defeated Carl Deaton III at FSF: The New Beginning via the judges’ scorecards.

KOTC: Future Legends 36







Kaleigh Burrage

An MMA debut she’ll never forget, Kaleigh Burrage may become a future queen to emerge in the sport from Team Alpha Male after bashing her opponent and claiming the first-round knockout.

Central Coast Throwdown: Unfinished Business







Josiah McHale

Josiah McHale, as of late, has gained experience with each passing week, filling his win column with its second tally in an equivalent number of weeks after a win inside Salinas’ Fox Theatre.

Weeks of MMA such as these reiterate how much talent in MMA, from amateur to the upper-echelon, is housed between Northern California’s boundaries.

Three Must-See Bantamweight Match-ups In NorCal on June 24th

The anxiety levels of Northern California’s MMA connoisseurs will climb exponentially when deciding whether they should attend King of the Cage: Flashback in Oroville or Conquer Fighting Championships 4, Conquer 4, in Richmond. Instead of losing any sleep over the matter, plan accordingly because: there are three bantamweight battles with potential to print the next morning’s headlines.

No matter if fight fans choose KOTC: Flashback at the Gold Country Casino & Hotel or the Craneway Pavilion for Conquer 4, there’s a way to ensure not a moment of action is missed between: Benito ‘The Golden Boy’ Lopez (5-0) and Musa Toliver (10-11-1), Nohelin ‘Suave’ Hernandez (4-0) and Michael ‘Berserker’ Olson (3-1), and Shawn ‘The Great’ Bunch (6-3) and Rodrigo ‘Ratinho’ Lima (12-3). Those who prefer to warm a seat in the bustling Bay Area can set their DVR and catch KOTC: Flashback on MAV TV six weeks later, and patrons drawn to the tranquil, rural land where KOTC: Flashback will erect its cage can rush home, log-in to, and capture Conquer 4’s first and last bell.

Benito Lopez vs. Musa Toliver at KOTC: Flashback

Lopez’s faithful following is willing to travel to any edge of ‘The Golden State’—and beyond, yet they’ll only need to step off their porches to witness one of the finest prizefighters mined from ‘The City of Gold.’ While headlining KOTC: Flashback against Musa Tolliver, Lopez will, once again, electrically charge the Gold Country Casino & Hotel when he enters the heart of the venue as Oroville’s hometown hero, but he’s been charming his fanbase since his initial walk to a cage bearing the distinct half-gold and half-black hairstyle. Training on the mats alongside Team Alpha Male, a world renowned fight team, Lopez plans to put Oroville on the map.

With nearly four times the experience of Lopez, Tolliver may possess the tools to smash the young prospect’s pristine record. As the proud owner of nearly a dozen learning experiences, the journeyman out of Team Bodyshop MMA must properly connect mind and body if he’s to transform a cold-streak of four consecutive losses into a cold-blooded attack.

Shawn ‘The Great’ Bunch vs. Rodrigo Lima at Conquer 4 for the Bantamweight Title

Bunch, the Bay Area alum, will fill a bus with his backers, bounce along the water’s edge from San Jose to the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, and overhaul the area’s landscape at 135-pounds by attaining the belt at Conquer 4. Most recently, Bunch claimed ownership of the vacant Dragon House Bantamweight Title at Dragon House 24 with a unanimous decision victory over Josh San Diego, and this contender, designed with a similar mold of determination as every other mixed martial artist out of AKA (American Kickboxing Academy), intends on snapping his pattern of winning in pairs by documenting his third straight success story with a gold strap.

Accustomed to high-profile stages, such as Bellator MMA, Lima eagerly contracted his killer skill-set for the possibility of holding the promotion’s prized possession in the bantamweight division. Riding a decision over Matt Betzold at Legacy Fighting Championship 40, Lima, under the elite tutelage and cornering of American Top Team, plans to make tidal waves in enemy territory.

Nohelin ‘Suave’ Hernandez vs. Michael ‘Berserker’ Olson at Conquer 4

Under Conquer’s blistering lights, Hernandez’s tan, scar-free skin will glisten when attempting to retain an, often-romanticized in MMA, undefeated record. Closing his stint in the amateurs on an ugly streak, the zero in ‘Suave’’s loss column, over the course of three professional bouts, still has the beautiful curves of a bikini model. Tanning under the memory of a scorching first-round TKO stoppage at Global Knockout 9, AKA’s freshest face at 135-pounds doesn’t intend on dealing with the grotesque side of the game: defeat.

Playing the role of beast has nothing to do with any of Olson’s physical attributes, other than violent physicality. The click of the cage unlocks a ‘Berserker’ quality that captures the attention of the crowd with the same rapturous tones as the Sirens in The Odyssey. Following a gorgeous—Submission of the Night—finish at West Coast Fighting Championships 18, Olson has caged himself in MMAGOLD’s vault, located inside Urban Sprawl Fitness in El Dorado Hills, to ensure he delivers another easy-on-the-eye outing to the spectators of Conquer 4.

Although choosing amongst promotions with their own unique flavor feels like a fork in the road, the only way to get lost in Nor Cal’s MMA scene is to not soak in each event, especially zeroing in on the trio of bantamweights at Conquer 4 and KOTC: Flashback.

For tickets to King of the Cage: Flashback, visit:

For tickets to Conquer 4, go to:

King of the Cage: Crunch Time

kingo-fo-the-cage-crunch-time-posterIt was only a matter of time before Benito ‘Goldenboy’ Lopez (6-0) and Ricky Simon (8-1) battled for bantamweight supremacy on the west coast. On March 18, 2017, King of the Cage (KOTC) contracted the headlining slot, along with a slough of other talented prizefighters calling Northern California home, to perform in front of a packed house inside Gold Country Casino & Hotel for KOTC: Crunch Time. Continue reading

Northern California Fight Fans: Where Will You Be On March 18th?

If you listen closely to the hearts of those who closely follow the mixed martial arts scene in the upper half of ‘The Golden State,’ you’ll hear their heart tear into thirds on March 18, 2017.

Days before spring, three promotions plan to sprout their cages and blossom future stars from Northern California. The organizations competing for the attention of patrons include: King of the Cage (KOTC) at Gold Country Casino and Hotel in Oroville; Global Knockout (GKO) at Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort in Jackson; and Conquer Fighting Championships (CFC) at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond. With a trio of promotions offering a unique blend of violence and personality, anywhere you decide to go will leave doubt about whether or not it was, indeed, the correct choice. Continue reading