FRUITLAND — Even after the strain of flying nearly 1,400 miles and cleansing his body just to make the cut at pre-fight weigh-ins, Dillon Atkinson had the resolve to handle business in Saturday’s World Fighting Championship 94 Live Cage Fights event at Northern Edge Casino.
Not even 48 hours before he stepped into the ring, the Portland, Oregon native added his name to the fight card after another fighter backed out.
He ran back-and-forth at the airport, sweating it out in four layers of clothing, just to shed 13 pounds in water weight over an eight-hour period on Friday.
That determination carried over into the fight itself, as he withstood a flying knee by Cortez, Colorado’s Joey Trevino and applied a north-south choke to win the 145-pound professional title just 72 seconds in.
“It makes you feel like a warrior. When you do something like this, it makes you really feel like you traveled across land to conquer and show that heart, that spirit and that fire inside you,” Atkinson said. “I don’t go to places that are really high elevation, so I had no idea what it would be like. But I pride myself in having the best cardio in the room.”
Traveling southwest to the Four Corners for a fight at 5,130 feet above sea level was a new experience for Atkinson, 26.
“This was a first. (My fights are) usually on the beach,” said Atkinson, an eight-year veteran at the pro level. “I handled it great. I wasn’t tired at all.”
Despite coming from sea level, Atkinson proved he can also dominate foes in the thin, dry desert air.
Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.