Mixed martial arts fighter Randy Steinke is headed for the big time.
The first steps toward recognition were taken when he signed a contract with Fight Legion Inc., a California management team.
“This puts Randy in a position in his professional career where he could be fighting some of the top fighters in the world,” said Payson Panktration martial arts studio owner Wyatt Shepherd.
Steinke has been training at Shepherd’s local martial arts gym for several years
Shepherd believes that Fight Legion could provide Steinke with nationwide exposure.
“The next time you see Randy fight, it could be on TV or pay per view,” he said. “It’s very exciting to have such a talent come out of Payson.”
Steinke was signed by Fight Legion Sept. 23 after winning the Rage in the Cage Lightweight (155 pounds) championship Sept. 27 in Prescott.
“Randy fought ex-Purdue wrestling coach and MMA veteran Bob Calnin for the title,” Shepherd said.
“Bob is known for his freakish strength and good boxing skills.”
But Calnin was no match for the Payson fighter who knocked him out with 53 seconds remaining in the first round. After Steinke landed a right cross on Calnin’s chin, he pounced on his downed foe.
“He started to rain down a flurry of punches,” Shepherd said. “Three landed clean on Calnin’s chin, knocking him out cold.”
One day before the fight, a new law went into effect that allowed mixed martial arts fighters to elbow their opponents, knee them in the head or punch them in the face while they are on the ground.
Gov. Janet Napolitano signed House Bill 2834 into law in April after lawmakers passed it by an overwhelming margin.
Republican Rep. Jonathan Paton, the bill’s sponsor, argued that the legislation would allow Arizona to host mixed martial contests like those seen on pay television.
Paton said hosting the mixed martial arts fights would generate state revenue through fees and sales taxes.
The new law means that Arizona’s MMA rules are now similar to those used in New Jersey, Nevada and other states.
Steinke’s win over Calnin, improved the Payson fighter’s professional record to 5-1.
Amon Builders, Northern Arizona Drywall and GNC sponsor Steinke in Payson.