Sheri Samson/MCIN
Dakota Eldridge works out with his trainer, Tony Herrera, in preparation for his upcoming match

With a warrior mentality and a mindset to conquer his opponent, Dakota Eldridge has been training for the Feb. 11, King of the Cage presentational fight, coming to a sold out audience at the Silver Legacy. His commitment is sponsored by the efforts of the PMH Boxing Pro team and his trainer, Tony Herrera, a three-time boxing champ himself from the bay area.

This evening will be filled with professional MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) trained athletes with a packed audience of followers and industry supporters. Although this extreme fighting includes gloves and minimum safety equipment for the cage fighters, there is only 20 feet of room to accomplish a feat of strategy, strength and technique using every portion of their bodies for the takedown.

“This is not an easy road, but I have always been drawn to it. It is as if I was called to organized fighting, but not because I am violent. For me it is a game that I trained for, with a strong mindset and movement like a dance which requires total commitment and a lifelong desire. I know what is at stake, but I won’t lose because I study the art, develop my ability to ignore pain and built up my body and mind to sustain injury and to win,” Eldridge stated.

Eldridge began his love for boxing by watching it on television and trying to mimic their moves. By age 15, he had become smitten with aggressive athletics and tried to train locally as best he could. Following an injury which took him years to mend, he was back as soon as all the elements of training came together. Now at age 22 he will face his opponent in Reno’s big league cage fighting event, proud to represent his small town of Hawthorne.

The roots of cage fighting go back to the classic Greek era, when warriors would combat in grappling, wrestling and striking movements as a sport. This sporting event was passed on to the Roman Empire, remaining a progressive and authentic favorite to spectators. The fluid movements that are formed around the feet was described as “dancing with punches” and yet the martial arts component involves the extreme fighting of high kicks and body jabs beyond a regular boxing match. This combination initiates the athletic recognition this sport deserves.

When Eldridge was asked about a possible fear factor, he dismissed it with the assurance that he has a game plan and a focus which he plays within his mind many times a day.

“I can’t say there isn’t a mental burden involved, but it is my heart’s passion. I am okay with the sacrifices I make because I want to win, which includes isolation and endless hours of repetition in movements. I have refined my instinct to anticipate my opponent’s moves. I stay alert, reading every moment and let my mind work with my physical spirit. At the end, my opponent and I will respect each other and understand our motives in this sport.”

Eldridge has a desire to develop his abilities into a full time career. He looks forward to the packed auditorium of attendees and the varied ages of supporters that come out to enjoy this sport. Until then, one can find him training hard at Hawthorne’s Bodies At Work facility, as he continues working hard for this featured event.