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A coach and combatant

Mixed martial arts: Alberto Crane leads throng of pupils making pro debuts at Turning Point, where he will also fight.

March 27, 2011|By Grant Gordon, grant.gordon@latimes.com

GLENDALE — For Alberto Crane, a veteran of 18 mixed-martial-arts bouts and countless grappling tournaments, his next fight — a three-round welterweight tilt against veteran Gabe Rivas at King of the Cage's Turning Point card today — poses no novel obstacles.

"I know what I can do," Crane said. "What'll happen will happen."

But while it's business as usual in the cage for Crane, his nerves are a bit different outside of the cage when it comes to coaching, as the Glendale resident will lead a throng of his Gracie Barra students into competition at today's event at the Braemar Country Club in Tarzana, which starts at 5:30 p.m.

"It's a lot of these guys' pro debuts," said Crane, who's the head instructor at Gracie Barra Burbank and Pasadena.

The card will also see the pro debut, and a much ballyhooed one at that in MMA circles, of female fighter Ronda Rousey, a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist in judo and a 3-0 amateur MMA fighter ranked No. 1 in the world in the 145-pound featherweight class. Rousey has trained largely at Glendale Fighting Club under the tutelage of Edmond Tarverdyan and with Team Hayastan under the renowned Gokor Chivitchian.

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"I'm always nervous for everything," said Rousey of making her debut. "I think it's a natural reaction.

"I'm nervous, excited, I'm ready."

Rousey, who offers a stellar judo and submission background, won't make your average debut, facing veteran Ediane Gomes, who sports a stellar 6-1 record.

"The reason I'm fighting someone that's 6-1 is nobody else would even take the fight," Rousey said, adding that her management even went as far as offering to pay for travel and expenses for potential opponents.

Gomes owns five wins via submission, all of them by way of armbar. Despite her opponent's experience advantage, Rousey, who's trained alongside the likes of local fighters such as Karen Darabedyan and Manny Gamburyan, enters today confident in her chances.

"I don't think anyone has the right to beat me. I feel I've worked too hard and nobody's worked harder than me," said Rousey, adding that she believes the matchup is also good for her stylistically. "She's a jiu-jitsu girl, standing's not really her strong suit. I think it's a great matchup for me."

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