UFC 172: Mr. MMA John Rallo explains Baltimore fight significance

BALTIMORE - Six years after Maryland legalized mixed martial arts fighting, Baltimore is getting its title shot on the national stage.

Tickets for UFC 172 at the Baltimore Arena officially go on sale Friday, although the arena offered a promotional code to buy tickets Thursday. 

"I cannot see this thing not selling out in 10 minutes or so," Frank Remesch, general manager of the arena, said. "This will go down as one of the biggest sporting events that we've had in the arena."

Jon "Bones" Jones will defend his light heavy weight title against Glover Teixeira on April 26.

"It's a big deal," said  John Rallo, founder of Shogun Fights in Baltimore and the former fighter who led the charge in 2008 to legalize MMA in Maryland.

Rallo is coming up on his 10 th Shogun Fights show at the arena, which has grown in popularity averaging audience of about 5,000, he said. Shogun Fights is a mixed martial arts fight night with lesser known or up-and-coming fighters.

"Baltimore has the little man's complex sometimes," Rallo said. "[This] shows the people here support MMA."

Rallo, a Baltimore native and the owner of Ground Control gyms, said passing the bill to legalize MMA took about a year. Sen. Joan Carter Conway (D-Baltimore) became the lead sponsor for the bill after attending one of Rallo's mixed martial arts classes.

"It was approved in a landslide," Rallo said, adding jokingly, "we made them tap out."

Three of Rallo's Shogun fighters have transitioned from Shogun to UFC: Jim "The Kid" Lettes, Dustin "The Disciple" Pague and Zach Davis.

"I hope that it opens the eyes of more people to the sport. I hope more people come out for the local events," Rallo said. "If I can get a fighter or two into [UFC 172] that'll be phenomenal. … I have a couple guys ready."

So far, eight bouts fill out the UFC 172 fight card, according to Body Elbow, an SB Nation blog . The Jones-Teixeira main event could set up a rematch of the thrilling UFC 165 fight against Alexander Gustafsson.

Jones and Teixeira spoke of a mutual respect for each other, promising a great show for fans, at a press event in Baltimore Wednesday. Teixeira said he was studying Jones's fight against Gustafsson, which MMA pundits said he only narrowly won. Get a recap of the press event from Pressbox Baltimore Online .

"I've been working on this for a long time." Remesch said. "It's incredible for me as a fan and as an arena manager."

For Jones -- a New York native -- defending his title in Baltimore is like a homecoming. As the brother of Ravens defensive end Arthur Jones, "Jonny Bones" said he expects love from Ravens fans, according to Baltimore Business Journal


The promo code to purchase tickets is available on the  official Baltimore Arena Twitter page.

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