MMA event returns to Hickory in February

For the second time in two months, the sport of mixed martial arts will visit Hickory.

Elite Championship Cage Fighting (ECCF) is hosting a second event at the Freedom Center, following a successful first event in December.
The first fight drew 374 people to the center.

“We did not expect that many people,” said CWK Promotions President and CEO Casey Jenkins. “(ECCF) expected a few people to come, but we weren’t sure because MMA had never been in Hickory before.”

ECCF held shows nearby in Lenoir, and also held shows traditionally in Charlotte, but the company hadn’t explored the Hickory area for a potential fight night.

Jenkins and CWK Promotions, who operate the Freedom Center, stepped in to draw ECCF and owner Marcelo Rodriguez in for one show.

“We actually saw an advertisement (ECCF) had on a gas pump,” Jenkins said. “We called them. Marcelo told us that he had been trying to get a show in Hickory for three years. He was happy to be able to have a chance to have a show here.”

It was a much different environment for CWK Promotions, which regularly holds Deathproof Alliance Wrestling events, music concerts and Zumba.

Hiring extra security, EMTs on site and bringing in the N.C. state boxing commission, the MMA event in Hickory went on as scheduled Dec. 3.

In a little more than two weeks, ECCF returns for the organization’s 20th show on Feb. 11 at 7 p.m., and expectations are once again high.

“We are excited to do this again,” Jenkins said. “We are looking forward to it and hope to go above what we had in December.”

The show’s card is highlighted by a three-round, non-title fight between Heriberto “Cruz” Arandia and Dylan Cala.

As far as those who have never seen the sport and are interested in attending the event, Jenkins said the show is worth a look.

“They should come check it out,” Jenkins said. “It is good, clean, family-friendly fun. It is a show that is professionally done and is very entertaining.”

For more information about the show visit, or for tickets call 704-596-1607.