Back in the ring: After one year of opponents backing out, Ethridge finally gets to fight
When John Ethridge is training, it’s a demonstration in intensity.
In the heat of a workout, the grimace on his face is something that’s not manufactured, but one of fierce determination. He attacks the punching bag like a mortal enemy. He shadowboxes as if he’s being attacked by Manny Pacquiao, Mike Tyson and Chuck Liddell in their prime.
And after one year between fights, Ethridge is finally getting the chance to trade in the bag and shadowboxing for an actual opponent.
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound mixed martial arts coach at the 8th Street Gym is stepping into the cage for tonight’s Cage Wars five at Two Rivers Convention Center.
“I’m 100 percent, and it’s do or die with me,” Ethridge said. “I don’t take a lazy, lackadaisical approach with anything, and with this MMA stuff, you either have to take it 100 percent or you’re going to do nothing with it.”
Ethridge’s is matching up with Nick Rossborough from Rose Park, Utah. Rossborough is fighting out of MMA legend Jeremy Horn’s camp, and has history with Ethridge.
The two fought August 11, 2006 in Salt Lake City, in a fight that Rossborough won in the second round by submission. The loss was Ethridge’s first as a professional.
“My first fight back after a three-year layoff was against him,” Ethridge said. “Now another layoff, and the first fight back is against him.”
Although the former state champion wrestler at Salt Lake City’s Skyline High School has taken time off before to concentrate on family, Ethridge’s most recent layoff was not his own decision. In the span of one year, Ethridge had four scheduled fights that fell through because his opponent backed out. When Ethridge’s scheduled fight for this card dropped out as well, Ethridge reached out to Rossborough.
“After the first person backed out, they were going to have me fight some older guy, and I didn’t want to do it, so I challenged Nick,” Ethridge said. “Being able to get a chance to redeem a loss is something I’ve wanted to do for three years. This is a major blessing.”
It’s a blessing but also a challenge that Ethridge embraces. Rossborough is considerably larger than Ethridge — 6-5, 230 pounds. Ethridge said both fighters are looking to get to 205 for fight night.
“This is a big stepping stone for me,” Ethridge said. “He’s got 30-plus fights, and he’s a seasoned vet.”
But at 37-years-old, Ethridge has the experience as well. He’s 12-2 in his pro career, and has a Jiu-Jitsu background in addition to MMA training with the likes of Horn and the (Randy) Couture camp in Las Vegas.
“I have serious submission techniques, and I’m going to take him to the ground and submit him,” Ethridge said. After the Rossborough fight, Ethridge said he has a goal of fighting 10 more bouts.
The owner of 8th Street Gym, Tom Bolger will be in Ethridge’s corner for tonight’s fight, and said he’s excited to see him in action.
“He’s tough, experienced and he’ll be game,” Bolger said. “Opponents keep pulling out, and we tried to get him on other fights but they keep declining probably because he’s intense and pretty fearless.”