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MMA makes way to Burbank

Mixed martial arts: Local fighter brings event to Marriott Convention Center.

September 25, 2011|By Grant Gordon, grant.gordon@latimes.com

In the world of combat sports, Alberto Crane wears many hats and holds many accolades.

The former Brazilian jiu jitsu world champion is a two-time Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran with 20 mixed martial arts fights across the globe to his credit, he's a proprietor of a handful of Gracie Barra Jiu-Jitsu schools and is also a trainer and cornerman for a number of MMA fighters.

Now, the Glendale resident is adding promoter to the list of his job titles.

"I just want an opportunity to put on fights for my guys to fight on and a platform for our local kids to come up on," said Crane, who does have some previous promoting experience in New Mexico and also helped put on a King of the Cage card in California earlier this year. "That's my reason."

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And on Oct. 29 at the Burbank Marriott Convention Center, Crane's National Fight Alliance MMA will put on "Valley Invasion," a card set to be headlined by Glendale's Sevak Magakian and also featuring fighters such as Jared Papazian, Orlando Sanchez and Haik Tsaturyan.

"It's the first MMA event in Burbank," Crane said. "It should be exciting."

Crane, who is 15-5 in his MMA career, runs Gracie Barra studios in Burbank and Pasadena along with a handful of other locales.

Though promoting wasn't at the top of his priority list, as a veteran fighter, trainer and cornerman, he's well aware of how frustrating the MMA circuit can be in terms of fights falling through at the last minute. Being able to better control that for his fighters was the chief reasoning in him joining up with the National Fight Alliance, which has already previously run four cards.

"I didn't really want to be a promoter, I was kind of forced into it," said Crane, a 35-year-old father of three. "If it's what I need to do to get my guys the right fights, to get them built up the right way, then I'm down."

Thus far, no fights have been set in stone, but a good deal of area talent is likely to be on the card.

Magakian (8-3) will make his return to the cage, as he hasn't technically fought since January of 2010 as he went on to take part in "The Ultimate Fighter" reality show, where he incurred an injury that's kept him sidelined.

Sanchez (1-0), a La Cañada High graduate and Pasadena resident who teaches alongside Crane, will return to the cage after making his MMA debut in December of 2010 and winning in just 13 seconds. Sanchez is emblematic of Crane's issues with getting his fighters fights, as Sanchez has had plenty of bouts and opponents fall through.

Other Crane students that are likely to take part on the card are Daniel Clark (1-0), Rob Gooch (1-1) and Keenan Lewis (0-1).

Tsaturyan (2-0) also trains locally, as does Papazian (14-6), who has long been cornered by Crane and is the reigning King of the Cage bantamweight (135 pounds) champion.

Opponents for the aforementioned fighters are likely to be formalized in the coming weeks, as is a start time for the event, which will likely fall in the afternoon.

Information about the event and tickets can be found at http://www.NFAMMA.com. Tickets range from $40 to $100 with VIP tables at $700.

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