In Phoenix, a One-of-a-Kind Event Fusing Marijuana With Mixed Martial Arts

Shannon “The Cannon” Ritch has been fighting in the Valley for 30 years. Combat sports paid the bills while he attended Tempe’s Al Collins Graphic Design School in the early 1990s.

“Every weekend I would go to Mexico, fight, and earn $ 500,” Ritch said of those days. That’s how I initiated myself in college. ”

The mixed martial arts fighter and Hollywood stuntman, who now lives in Glendale, has gone on to fight more than 200 professional and underground matches for many MMA promotional companies around the world, such as the Pride Fighting Championships and Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship. He currently holds the title of BKFC international heavyweight champion.

But three decades of kicking in the ass (and kicking his ass) took the 51-year-old. Retirement is near. So perhaps the upcoming fight he considers potentially one of his last has a healing ingredient in it: a cannabis convention.

RUF 44: RUF, PUFF, and RUMBLE will be held Saturday, Oct. 23, at the Celebrity Theater in Tempe. The fight part of the night will be similar to other MMA events. Following a dozen other matches, Ritch will end up against Aaron Brink, a former porn star and longtime rival, in the main event. They will announce it for the RUF Nation heavyweight world title.

However, before the match, ticketholders are invited to walk into the parking lot of the Celebrity Theater, where around 80 vendors will be posted up waiting for their wares. Among the vendors scheduled are GreenPharms Dispensaries, Puck’s Cannabis Confections, and Mad Terp Labs. David DeCorpo, an event organizer through Trap Culture Promotions, said it would be similar to a “First Friday grass.”

“It’s like the first cannabis and MMA event in the country – possibly in the world,” DeCorpo said. “We’re going to throw a gigantic buntame party before the fight. The booths that are there will have dab stations, so you can dab people out. They’ll have flowers for you to smoke, edibles to try, we got it all. We run dispensaries, focus lines, edible companies, people who make and sell cannabis clothing, cannabis paintings, and jewelry. We want to bring the whole industry together. ”

Food trucks and beer vendors will also be on-site for the cannabis expo for attendees who might get munchies or prefer to enjoy a pint of suds, according to DeCorpo. (Note: While consuming cannabis at the expo is OK, no one will be allowed to partake inside the venue.) There will also be Jumbotrons set up in the parking lot for attendees to watch the battles from the pot expo.

RUF Nation CEO Joel Lopez said he got the idea for RUF, PUFF, and RUMBLE after noticing many tournament sports athletes that he was working on launching CBD and THC products aimed at recovering the sport as an excessive revenue stream between their battles. He believes this event will set a trend for future MMA events around the world.

“We started talking to a lot of fighters and here, a lot of fighters are cannabis lovers, buyers, sellers, sellers – they’re really heavy on that world,” Lopez said. “We’re combining the world of cannabis with the world of MMA fighting, and I can’t believe there’s another event like this.”

As for the battle between Ritch and Brink, it all has the making of an explosive match. The men will hit the ring carrying a heavy, 20-year-old furious back as they both trained with MMA legend Tito Ortiz at his camp in Southern California in the early 2000s, according to Ritch.

“Pride picked me up [Fighting Championships], and I don’t know [Brink] jealous or something, but from then on his mouth would run whenever he saw me, ”Ritch said. “By the time I was fighting in 170 [pounds] and he is in 205 [pounds] so we are not in the same weight class. As the years went by, Aaron started talking about how his catch-wrestling was better than my jiu-jitsu and he wanted to fight. ”

Brink said he can’t remember how the trouble started with Ritch, but he intends to fix the score once they meet face to face. While both men are now battling in the weight division, Brink expects Ritch to burn himself in the first round because of his increased muscle mass combined with his age, he said.

“For many years, we were on a collision course with each other. I wanted to fight him because of some comments he made on Facebook. [Ritch] believes he can submit me to his jiu-jitsu and can knock me out in a stand-up fight, ”Brink said.“ Like [Ritch] has gotten older, he’s gotten bigger, and I don’t think he’s going to be well. I think he’s going to run out of fuel fast and I don’t see him having any chance in this fight. ”

Brink, who is 46, has fought for many professional MMA promotional companies, including a brief moment in the UFC. While only five years younger than Ritch, he said he believes his body is younger because of taking many years between battles to fight methamphetamine addiction, a habit Brink developed during his career in pornography in the mid -2000s, he said. His struggles with meth have been featured in A & E’s Interference in 2009 and later on the television show Divorce Court in 2011.

“I took time because I was fighting drug addiction. But at that time I didn’t suffer any injuries like the other fighters there,” Brink said. “I’m 46 biologically, but my physical shape does not reflect this. I was really in amazing shape. If I had to, I could go 5 five minute rounds now, and I knew Shannon wouldn’t be able to make one round. ”

Ritch said he believes the opponent is underestimating him and realizes the mistake on the day of the fight. In addition to training at his own gym, Cannon Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Glendale, Ritch also collaborates with martial arts masters Bob Karmel and Nick Chasteen five days a week at Golden Era Muay Thai in Scottsdale.

“I’m not going to gas … I can struggle with three rounds, five rounds, or no matter how long we have to go,” Ritch said. “Aaron is the bigger man, but I think I’m in better shape, I’m the better athlete, I have better technique and my submissions are better than most. If I touch him, I’ll put him to sleep.” he is. ”

Saturday, October 23
Cannabis Expo at 1 PM
First Bell at 5 PM
Famous Theater
440 N. 32nd St.
Tickets start at $ 55
For more information, see:


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