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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Cherokee Village mixed martial artist is current flyweight champion

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

They say dynamite comes in small packages, and mixed martial artist Ray Allard, 20, is a good example of that.

The 5'2" fighter is the current ShoFIGHT flyweight champion, with a 9 win - 2 loss record in amateur sanctioned fights, and 17 and 4 overall. Allard has successfully defended his championship belt four times, winning each defense in the first two minutes of the first round.

"Sweet Baby" Ray, as he is announced before fights, due to his gentle disposition outside the ring, has been fighting since he was 17.

Allard said a friend introduced him to the world of cage fighting.

"Ever since I was little I always liked things like Mortal Combat, and Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee movies. I always liked it and wanted to try something like it. A friend of mine asked, 'Would you like to fight?' and I said yeah. I trained on a Thursday and Friday, and fought Saturday. I won in the second round with a TKO. So, after that, I was hooked," Allard said.

After his first win, Ray started taking Mixed Marshal Arts lessons at Cantrell's MMA and Just For Kicks Karate in Mammoth Spring.

Rodger Cantrell has been teaching karate for close to 30 years, and has taught the Max Bishop fighting system for nearly seven years -- a mixture of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Korean Taekwondo. This mix of fighting styles has influenced Allard.

Mixed Marshal Arts fans, including Allard, closely follow the professional competition. Allard says he doesn't really have a favorite MMA fighter, because he takes things from everyone that he sees fight.

"If I had to choose, I'd say Jon Jones [Ultimate Fighting Championship's light heavyweight champion] because of the way he fights on the ground and standing up," Allard said.

Allard's next title defense is set for July 28 at ShoFIGHT 21: Battle Royale in Branson, Missouri. His opponent is Miles McDonald, a member of the Missouri National Guard. Allard beat McDonald to retain his belt at ShoFIGHT 15 on January 21 of this year. In their first fight, Ray got a victory by way of a guillotine choke, just one minute and twenty five seconds into the fight.

"They've talked him up. He's supposed to be the best at hand to hand combat of anyone in his platoon. He may have better hands than me, but [in our first fight] when I hit him, he noticed that I hit him and he backed off. He made his mistake, he put his neck out there, and I took it. I'm in there to have fun. But if I see an opening, I'm gonna take it. In this business, if you get an opening, you don't mess around. I could probably sit around and flaunt in the cage all day. But that gets people beat," Allard said. He added, "You're in there to show off what you can do. But if you mess around and play around and get beat, what are you proving, what are you showing people?"

Allard has been offered a pro contract with ShoFight, but he and Cantrell agree he needs a few more fights before he goes pro.

"Hopefully, Ray will get in the cage and beat [Miles] in the first round, and then we can get him two or three more fights before he goes pro, sometime this fall," Cantrell said.

Cantrell also said, while there is pressure on Ray to win his next few fights, it wouldn't be the end of the world if he lost.

"Even if he lost, he's held that title a long time. So, I think the pro contract will still be there if he lost," Cantrell said.

Ray said the pressure of winning isn't what he focuses on.

"There is always pressure to win. But the last fight was the most nerve wracking for me because Rodger's trainer was there and, if I had lost in front of him, it would've been really hard.There is always pressure, but I'm here to have fun. Some people may not think it is, but, for me, fighting is a great way to get my anger and frustration out, and have fun at the same time," Allard said.

A pro contract would help Ray to financially support his daughter.

"I have a daughter now. She's nine weeks old and just got her two month shots the other day. So I have to set an example and raise her the right way. I don't want the things that happened to me to happen to her. I was raised by my mom. It was just her. I didn't have a dad. My mom was there as a mom and as a dad. Sometimes it was hard, and sometimes it was harder than that. If it wasn't for how I was raised, I don't think I'd be the same person I am today. Being in foster care is why I'm in Arkansas now. My brother and I came here because we wanted to leave the big city. But it doesn't matter where you move to, there will always be bad influences. You can move away from them, but it's the person you are that makes you not do bad things," Allard said.

Despite his childhood, Ray said his relationship with his mother is pretty normal.

"If I ever needed any help, I know she'd be there to help me.

Things are different than they were back then. She was on a lot of drugs back then but now she's good, now she's clean. She supports me 100 percent. She was there for my first fight, and she always thought I could go somewhere and that I could be something big one day." Allard said.

Cantrell said he doesn't know why, but he seems to find a lot of kids with similar backgrounds as Ray. He always wishes that kids that aren't involved in anything could get busy with martial arts.

Allard is happy to have Cantrell's facility to learn and compete without risk of things getting out of hand.

"If you come to class and you have a problem with someone, you solve it in class; not out on the street where you can get the cops called on you and end up going to jail or getting in trouble. Why do something stupid when you could do it smart," Allard said.

For those who don't think MMA is a sport, Ray has a message.

"It's their own opinion, but I say, 'How can you know until you try it yourself?' Some people don't like violence, but we work really hard. We train year-round to get in that cage and show off what we got and show off our skills," Ray said.

One day Allard hopes to fight in the UFC, and he said he is already taking steps to achieve that goal.

"I've been working toward it, and I've been trying to work my way up there. I've been told I have a good enough heart and I'm strong willed. There are not as many fighters at 125 pounds as there are in all the other weight classes," Allard said.

Ray said that, for most fights, his opponents have to cut weight just days before the fight -- they typically weigh about 135, and have to drop to 125 pounds to fight in his weight class. Whereas, Ray seems to naturally weigh 120 pounds.

Due to the lack of quality fighters in the flyweight class, Ray said he has thought about fighting at 135 someday.

"I've been gaining weight the last month or so, I'm actually around 130 right now, and I'm gaining more weight. So, I might try fighting at 135 someday. But, for now, I want to stay at 125 and just keep doing what I'm doing," Allard said.

Ray said he is actively thinking about the future.

"My family has always told me that I'm the one with a level head on my shoulders. I'm the one that's going to make something of myself. So here I am, I'm trying to do that and I'm going to do that," Allard said.

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