Among the impressive slate of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters set to battle at Craneway Pavilion on Saturday is an up-and-comer returning to his native Richmond.
Samuel McFarland (pictured on the left), 23, grew up with nine sisters and five brothers in Central Richmond, but persistent violence in the city in the early 2000s convinced his family to move to Sacramento. Richmond has remained close to McFarland’s heart, however, and he considers his upcoming bout against Napa’s Raymond Lopez as an opportunity to battle for his native city.
McFarland is one of 30 fighters participating in 15 fights at the Conquer Fighting Championships Saturday night. Doors open at 4 p.m and fights start at 5 p.m. The night will showcase both professional and amateur bouts. Tickets range from $30 to $120. Click here to check out all the matchups and pre-order tickets.
McFarland is battling in only the second bout of his young career, but his interest in MMA emerged as a teenager. Aside from watching Ultimate Fighting Championship bouts, he got into a street fight in 2007 with a “troublemaker” and won grandly.
“But I broke my hand, so as I got older I was thinking is there a way I can still defend and attack without breaking my hand?” McFarland said.
Eventually he joined a Muay Thai Gym, where he met and sparred with MMA fighters and realized his potential. He later met Matt Betzold, a fierce professional MMA fighter despite having one leg. Betzold took McFarland under his wing and prepared him for his first amateur fight in August, which he won 25 seconds into the second round.
“I was so excited to win my first fight, then a couple months later I was offered to fight in Richmond,” he said. “I couldn’t turn the fight down. It was a blessing to me. Fighting in Richmond means a lot to me because I can represent where I’m from. I plan on going 2-0, but win or lose I fight for the people of Richmond.”