Fighter, promoter wants to see sport grow

A local mixed martial arts (MMA) enthusiast is working to bring more attention to the sport in Calhoun County.

Tap or Scrap, an amateur MMA competition hosted in the Bauer Community Center on June 10, was an instant success.

“It was sold out,” described Peter Morales, the event coordinator and promoter. A worker said they had been working there for 10 years, and not once has he ever used every chair in the house.

Out of the 11 scheduled matches, the most anticipated fight was between Emmanuel Garcia and Kaleb Fortner.

“It was phenomenal. I couldn’t have asked for a better main event. It was a back-and-forth battle, playing chess with each other, ”Morales shared. “Emmanuel Garcia ended up winning.”

Morales explained how coordinating these events takes several months of preparation, including scheduling times and locations, matching up fighters, managing fighters’ weights, dealing with insurance, and promoting the event.

“A lot of people think, ‘You just put a cage down,’ but there’s so much behind it,” Morales said. “Texas is one of the hardest states to host MMA events in. Rules and regulations… They do it for the safety of the fighters, which is very understandable. “

In addition to his own MMA career beginning in Port Lavaca 12 years ago by training with his fellow coach Brian Huff, Morales said he has always aspired to coordinate and plan matches.

“It’s a beautiful thing to see what you put together. It was surreal when we got the cage up, the seating, the chairs – the way the Bauer looked. I had to take it in, ”Morales shared. “There was this little moment when I walked in before the crowd started coming in just to see everything being put together. It was something I’ve dreamed about every day. I think that was by far one of the best feelings ever. “

The immediate success of Tap or Scrap in Port Lavaca opens up the town to host future MMA events, as there is clear audience interest. Morales said he plans on returning by the beginning of next year.

“I’m looking forward to coming back. I definitely want to come back to Port Lavaca and put on another show, ”Morales said. “I’m just so happy the city showed up, and everyone had a great time.”

Tap or Scrap II will come to Victoria on Aug. 13, and the venue will be announced soon. Morales is also planning an event on Oct. 22, which will be “targeting Houston or Austin.”

Aside from his passion for coordinating events, Morales’ other passion lies with his gym in Victoria, Heart Of A Champion, which is focused on its community and uplifting those in need.

In reference to his work with young children in need: “Some people might see it as pretty intense and violent, but I’ve seen MMA turn kids’ demeanors around, and their attitude and self-confidence,” Morales said. “We give kids a different outlet that comes from troubled homes. We don’t charge much – only $ 35 a month. We take them to Golden Gloves [competition]; we take them to tournaments to give them a different outlook and an outlet … It changes their life around… We do a wide [age] range and have women’s classes, too. “

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