When professional So Cal fighter Keith Berry (13-10-0) steps into the ring against his opponent Willie Parks (5-2-0) for the Middleweight Feature Fight at the Bellator MMA Championship Tournament March 7 at Pechanga Resort & Casino, he plans to win.
“I’ve been training hard and want to go in and take care of this guy,” Berry said. “I will fight whoever they put in front of me.”
The 25-year-old and former Murrieta Valley High School athlete has been competing for nearly 10 years, starting from the age of 15, eventually transitioning from wrestling to martial arts.
“Wrestling is really the best foundation for this sport because it teaches you to be dedicated and disciplined. It’s a good base to have because it keeps you in line (as a kid) and out of trouble,” Berry said.
Berry credits his Murrieta Valley High School coaches with providing a good support for him early on and said one of his coaches – Jeremy Laughlin – actually secured Berry his first fight.
Berry said he was lured in 2005 to the MMA – Mixed Martial Arts – in its early days because of the challenge it provided.
“Boxing is awesome and very technical. But there is something about MMA that is a little more challenging. I was intrigued.”
Berry’s first amateur fight was against Thomas “Wildman” Denny’s MMA studio. After two years of training, he enjoyed his professional debut at the age of 18 in 2005. He won his first bout by knockout. At just 19 years old, the “KO Kid” became the King of the Cage Middle Weight Champion, according to Berry’s website.
The night will showcase the Featherweight and Middleweight Tournament Semifinals featuring a collection of Southern California’s best talent.
Currently living and training in Irvine, Berry said the best part of the upcoming match will be returning to his roots.
Berry said: “It’s always an advantage to (compete) with my friends and family there. It’s a good atmosphere, good energy to be there at Pechanga.”
The event has an early start time as the first fight enters the cage at 5:00 p.m. with the LIVE worldwide television broadcast starting at 7 p.m. PST on Spike TV, as well as in Spanish language on mun2. The preliminary card will be streamed live and free on Spike.com starting at 5 p.m. MST.
To learn more, visit www.pechanga.com.