Matchmaking his way to the top
I watched a serious Rafael Casias command the room as he moved back and forth throughout the venue. His starched white shirt was slick and cool on him as he led fighters to the cage. All was set for a night of fantastic fights. Fights he picked out.
Casias, a Pleasanton native, has been involved in the world of professional boxing and mixed martial arts for many years, but he made his debut as a fight card matchmaker last month with an astounding card for Premier Fight Series 1, a Jesse Rodriguez Promotion.
Casias had to give up his boxing license and his cornering license in Texas in order to get his matchmaking license.
It was tough to drop them at first, but when I sat down to think about it, I realized I could help so many more fighters by matchmaking, said Casias.
I was really proud of the card. It didnt seem to have a boring fight, said Casias. We had a great turnout for it being our first show.
Sitting three rows deep in a sea of 2,200 fight fans, I had a great view of the cage and all the action. I watched as the first four fights ended in the submission rear naked choke. Even the fights that went to a decision were compelling.
Not only did Casias set up a great night of fights, but he had three fighters on the card, two of which won their fights. A great victory for his gym, Fitness Fight Factory (F3), which was expanded at the beginning of the summer because classes were too large for the original space.
With the success of the first show, the second is already scheduled. Premier Fight Series 2 will no doubt ignite the spectators with La Grave Field, the historic baseball stadium in Fort Worth as its backdrop. This will be the first MMA (mixed martial arts) show the stadium will host.
Im excited, Casias beams about the second show. I have lots of local favorites on the show and some more exciting fights set up.
It was simply a business decision. We are still great friends and hang out regularly. Casias says Skelly is about one fight away from being in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) and he is happy to have been part of that journey.
He is a bit nervous about the show being outside concerning weather, but cant wait to see how it all pans out.
Casias will never be one to say that he is bored. Not only does he matchmake, he trains fighters such as UFC bantamweight Johnny Bedford and multiple other professional fighters and manages their careers.
The UFC has last said that Bedford will most likely fight in December. He was out with an injury and unable to compete for his last UFC fight. Casias and Bedford both look forward to him being in the Octagon again.
Fighter Evan Cutts also takes instruction from Casias. He is the co-main event on August 17 on AXS (formerly HD NET). This will be a step up for Cutts.
At 21, he has a lot of promise and is one of the next Texans I see moving on the the UFC, said Casias about Cutts.
Casias has a meeting today with a former UFC and WEC (World Extreme Cagefighting) fighter who will most likely sign a management deal with Casias. He is also working with Ryan Kovach, a senior-level marketing and branding manager, who will help Casias fighters brand their names.
But, perhaps the fighter he loves training the most is his 11 year old daughter, Kallista, who has begun competing in boxing and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ).
Kallista is a state qualifying gymnast who decided after 8 years of gymnastics that she would like to give fighting a try. She has been training since December and has advanced to a grey belt in BJJ. She also won a first place medal in her inaugural BJJ tournament. Her father is quickly searching for a boxing match for his little warrior.