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Crane kick starts Burbank's first MMA event

Several fighters with area ties find a stage in "Valley Invasion," which is being headlined by Sevak Magakian.

October 27, 2011|By Grant Gordon, grant.gordon@latimes.com
(Alex Collins Special…)

As the first North American to earn a Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt before subsequently opening up Gracie Barra studios in Burbank, Pasadena and other Southern California locales, Alberto Crane knows a bit about combat sports history.

Thus, the Glendale resident is beaming about the prospects of helping to bring live mixed martial arts to Burbank for the first time.

"First MMA event in Burbank — it's history," said Crane of Saturday afternoon's Alberto Crane's National Fight Alliance Mixed Martial Arts "Valley Invasion" event that is scheduled to feature 10 bouts beginning at 4 p.m. at the Burbank Marriott Convention Center.

Headlining the event will be a three-round lightweight (155 pounds) tilt between former "The Ultimate Fighter" cast member Sevak Magakian and veteran David Gardner.

"I'm just gonna go out there and do what I do best, wherever he wants to take the fight, I'll go," said Magakian, a Glendale resident. "I have to win no matter what it takes."

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Crane, a former two-time Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran and current MMA fighter, is excited about the possibility of providing a platform for the burgeoning MMA fighters in the area to start their careers and build them up.

"It's awesome, it's a dream come true," said Crane, who owns a 15-5 career MMA record. "Every big UFC name, they've had a platform to come up on. I want to be able to build up some local guys."

Those with local ties in addition to Magakian are Haik Tsaturyan, who trains at Glendale's Main Event Gym, Orlando Sanchez, a La Cañada High graduate who trains under Crane, and a host of others who train alongside Crane and Sanchez — Daniel Clark, Rob Gooch, Ako Harper and Keenan Lewis.

"I'd like to see Sevak be the best he can be and go back to the UFC," Crane said, "and my guys, I'd like to see them build up and go as far as they can."

For Magakian (8-3), that's exactly his plan, beginning with the venerable Gardner (18-19).

The 34-year-old Gardner has lost four straight fights, but has fought notables in the sport such as Tony Ferguson, Shinya Aoki, Toby Imada, Jorge Masvidal, Josh Neer, Rich Clementi and Marcus Aurelio.

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