Team Byrnes fighter Joe Rugirello controls his opponent during his match at the Nor-Cal Combat card last Saturday night. The card drew over 600 fight fans to Jakes (formerly Goldies).

The second Nor-Cal Combat Mixed Martial Arts card was held last Saturday night at the Butte County Fairgrounds, and the sell-out crowd of more than 600 spectators came to see what would be a highly enjoyable evening of MMA action held inside Jakes (formerly Goldies) lending a gladiatorial air to the night as boisterous fans voiced their appreciation throughout the night.
    “This is the best thing going in Gridley,” said Gridley resident David Valdez. “This is such a positive influence for the kids in the community to see these young men battling their hearts out, but giving one another so much respect. It is creating something positive for kids in the area to latch onto instead of getting in trouble.”
    The card featured many amateur fighters from the Butte County area, including five fighting out of promotor Brannon Byrne's “Team Byrnes” fight club. Byrne, along with co-promotor John Orsua and Butte County Fair CEO Sean Earley have to commended putting on an incredible show, from the location to the action in the ring. The response has been so positive Earley and Byrne have confirmed the next card will take place June 23, while preparations are still being made for an event in the Main Grandstand at the Butte County Fair this August.
    If you have ever walked by the beer hall at fair time you can't fully comprehend how well Earley and his staff did in converting it to a perfect small venue for this event. 525 chairs circled the six-sided ring, with an additional six sets of small bleachers at the back of the building, enabling close to 700 patrons to witness the action inside the ring. And believe me, the action was intense, as every fight brought fans to their feet to root for their favorites.
    The card started with a local flair as former Gridley High athlete Deniko Sisk opened with his first MMA bout against Stephen Voltz of Sacramento. Sisk had to be charged up fighting in front of family and friends, and he used the energy to gain a quick advantage of his opponent shortly after the opening bell.
    Sisk was able to gain control of Voltz quickly, jumping on Voltz' back and pounding him with shots to the head, while keeping Voltz in a vulnerable position. After landing numerous blows, the referee stopped the fight just 37 seconds into the first round, sending the crowd into a joyful frenzy, and setting up what would be a spectacular night.
    In the second fight Reddings Nick Gifford stopped Jagger Vansickle of Redding at 1:50 of the second round after a barrage of punches rendered Vansickle helpless.
    The third fight of the night might have been the most popular as Chico's Benito Lopez battled against Johnny Terry of Biggs fighting for Team Byrnes. For the entire story, pick up a 4/18/12 edition of the Gridley Herald. See more photos of this, and all your favorite local sports by calling us and subscribe today! 846-3661