An undoubtedly dominant force in mixed martial arts throughout the region, Cage Fighting Xtreme’s Feb. 20 show “Rumble in the Jungle III” in Plymouth promises to begin the new year exactly where the rising MMA promotion left off in 2009.

An undoubtedly dominant force in mixed martial arts throughout the region, Cage Fighting Xtreme’s Feb. 20 show “Rumble in the Jungle III” in Plymouth promises to begin the new year exactly where the rising MMA promotion left off in 2009.


And as the recent recipient of Action Martial Arts Magazine’s Woman of the Year award on Jan. 9 at the Action Martial Arts Hall of Honors in Atlantic City, N.J., at the Tropicana Casino and Resort, CFX promoter Linda Shields’ relentless work ethic did not allow her pause to contemplate such personal accolades.


“I did not know I was even up in the running,” Shields said. “I didn’t find out until after I’d won. We got a phone call that they were coming to our Nov. 14 show to make a big announcement, and they announced it live. I thought it was a pretty cool way to do it.”


Even cooler was the prestige surrounding the event itself.


“(Winning) was more an honor than anything else,” Shields said. “Like they say, they’re the biggest event of their kind in the world, so being a part of it was awesome. It was a black tie set-up. It was like a beautiful wedding—but for thousands of people; just gorgeous. And there were a lot of famous people and mixed martial arts there. (Dan Severn, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Bill “Superfoot” Wallace, and Chuck Zito to name a few) It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I hope it’s an indication of our future going forward.


Still, despite the added attention Shields remains grounded, and driven to keep her promotion’s first show following her award a continued model of success.


“The award’s a big deal, but it doesn’t change the perception of the company mainly because I’m still the same person,” Shields said. “Everything with the CFX, I’m all about. I know one thing, we’re not going to relax (after the award), that’s for sure.”


If Feb. 20’s card is any indication, relaxing the feverish pace set by the promotion in 2009 is far from the mind of the CFX’s Golden Girl Shields.


“We have a lot of exciting fights on,” Shields said. “Greg Mendes versus Brian Conrad is a really cool fight. Both guys are so alike, and they’re friends. It’s like they want to just get the fight over with so they can go hang (laughs). They’re such good guys, and they both take their training so seriously. I can’t be cageside for this fight—it’s like watching two brothers fight. They’re both like family to me, and it’s not up to me who to root for—that’s what they have fans for. I wish them both the absolute best, but the outcome? I have no clue.”


Rumble in the Jungle III will highlight a plethora of talented local mixed martial artists in a dizzying array of more than 25 scheduled bouts.


“(UFC veteran) Josh Diekmann takes on Bobby Favors, from Colorado,” Shields said. “And win, lose, or draw, Diekmann’s like running into a freight train. Pat Shultz—he’s a UFC veteran fighter—he’s fighting Fernando Rivera at a catch weight of 190 pounds. At 205, (Raynham native) Mark Griffin is fighting Kenny Hazzard. There’s so many fights.”


Other highly anticipated fights include Robbie Leroux squaring off with Barrington Douse, Lionel Young meeting Glenn Reaves, Bret O’Teri versus Rigo Dominnicci, and perennial crowd favorite Steve “The Sandman” Dunn against Joe Kavey.


One fight that will unfortunately not take place that night is arguably the most important upcoming heavyweight fight in the region, a superfight between CFX heavyweight champion 6-foot-1-inch, 265-pound, 25-year-old Lee Beane (6-0, 6 opening-round stoppages) and number-one contender 6-foot-6-inch, 255-pound, 24-year-old Christian Morecraft (4-0, two first-round stoppages, two first-round submissions). With a pair of hungry young lions each seemingly on the fast track to success, this extraordinary showdown may indeed establish the pecking order regarding exactly which man is the Next Big Thing in the heavyweight division.


“Their fight wasn’t cancelled, but it was postponed,” Shields said. “Morecraft and Beane figured it out. The way it was scheduled—we announced it too soon inadvertently. Beane had a knee injury, not a serious knee injury, but one that needed to heal. Their fight’s now re-scheduled for April 3.”


Morecraft is slated to meet Jason Dolloff at Rumble in the Jungle III, but the outcome of the fight will not affect his imminent shot at Beane’s crown.


Rumble in the Jungle III will also feature an MMA expo, National Guard and Marines’ armored vehicles, and sponsorship of Cage Fighting Xtreme’s“Bully Proof,” for the Stoughton Youth Council.


“The (charity) idea was really (V.P. of operations) Mike Varner’s.” Shields said. “He’s really big into getting his students into extracurricular activities at his training center, MAXX Training in Stoughton. It’s a local program that provides activities for kids to deal with bullying. Bullying is so out of control right now, and (Mike’s) been offering classes on how to deal with bullies at school, and how to cope with bullying. So it all ties together.


“And we’ll have a mini-MMA expo with tons of vendors,” Shields continued. “With all the up-to-date stuff and the hottest gear. And of course, the Canoli Guy is coming back (laughs). Everybody loved him. His pastries were so good, and so fresh, we’re so happy to have him back.”


Also happy to be back will be the likely jam-packed crowd.


“We’re expecting a huge crowd, bigger than last time, and we had over 5,800 last time,” Shields said. “That’s what’s so great about CFX shows, it’s like a big networking party. There’s so much going on, that there’s something for everyone. There’s a bar, like a mini club. There’s a vendor and expo area. The event itself is gorgeous; it’s such a pretty atmosphere. The Jungle Plex is an exciting place for me, I just love it.”


A packed house and equally crowded card combined to draw one last recommendation from Shields: “With all the fights happening, the doors are going to open early--at 6 p.m. People should get there early, because it will be a whole day and night of fun.”


For more information on Cage Fighting Xtreme, the Rumble in the Jungle III event, or to purchase tickets, contact CageFX.com.