Lenten is one of five Victoria fighters competing in Texas Rage in the Cage

Sept. 10, 2011 at 4:10 a.m.

For some, the sport of mixed martial arts is hard to comprehend and see a value in, but don't count James Lenten in that group.

The 29-year-old surveyor, said there's nothing like walking into the cage for a fight.

"You can be 240 mph on a Ducati and you're not going to touch how I feel," Lenten said.

Lenten is one of five local mixed martial artist who will fight during the Texas Rage in the Cage MMA event at the Riverside Multiplex on Saturday.

The event has 12 fights scheduled with the first beginning at 7 p.m.

Lenten is a Wisconsin native who moved to Victoria five months ago. The amateur fighter has one bout under his belt - from three years ago.

Even though there may be some rust, don't look for any tentativeness from Lenten on Saturday.

"You don't get into cage fighting because you're scared of getting hurt or you're scared of what the outcome may be," Lenten said "You get into cage fighting because you have the ability to do something that a lot of people don't."

Lenten said he looks up to Kimbo Slice. Slice is a street fighter who became famous when videos of his fights circulated through the Internet and he eventually achieved mainstream popularity in the MMA scene.

Lenten, like many on the card, aren't full-time fighters. Like most people, they work, pay bills, have families, but they continue to pursue the sport at the amateur level.

Sometimes Lenten works a 15-hour shift, then resumes his training at Flex Fitness with members of the Victoria MMA club. He does it for the love of the sport.

"I work a job and I've got bills to pay, but I still want to fight," Lenten said. "It's in me, it's in my heart. I'll do whatever it takes."

The Rage in the Cage not only localizes MMA, but gives the people of Victoria an opportunity to watch a sport that has increased in popularity during the last several years.

"If you go to other cities they don't have the same response when it's not UFC or when it's not the major names," said event promoter Frank Salazar. "Victoria on the other hand just loves the sport."

Salazar added that he expected a capacity-crowd, about 2,000 people, at the Riverside Multiplex on Saturday.

The Rage in the Cage promoter has 20-years of experience. He said being an MMA fan mades it easier to promote the sport locally.

Like other fans, Salazar grew up watching boxing. The decreasing appeal of boxing has helped MMA become more popular.

As a result, MMA has a younger fan base than boxing, and Salazar has seen the younger crowd gravitate towards watching MMA.

"There's not a whole bunch of boxers out there that are getting my attention anymore," Salazar said. "Not like before when you had an endless amount of fighters and fights you can put together that would bring a big crowd."

Although MMA critics may not see an entertainment value in the sport, for Lenten the cliché of watching a fight and then judging it doesn't apply.

Instead, he said, watch the fighters train and prepare for a fight. Then critics will see the athletic value in MMA.

"It's not about going out there and beating the hell out of somebody that doesn't know what they're doing," Lenten said. "It's a sport where you're both equally matched."

One criticism of MMA is the danger and possibility of a fighter to be seriously injured, but Lenten said it's not the case.

MMA is not more dangerous than other sports and he calls the sport a positive outlet for anger.

"We went to an East football game on Friday and one of the players got injured," Lenten said. "Does that mean everyone should stop playing football because there are injuries? In the NFL, people get hurt all the time. Are we going to cancel that sport because people get hurt?"



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