Cruz Gomez is fighting for wrestling again.
Gomez, the main-event winner from the Cal Poly “Fight for Wrestling” mixed martial arts event in May, is making the trek to Bakersfield, along with several others from that card, to help raise funds for another endangered program.
Backed by WEC co-founder Scott Adams and Chuck Liddell, a pro-am card last spring that featured appearances by actor Lou Ferrigno and New England Patriots guard Stephen Neal raised money for the Mustangs wrestling program with the intent of saving it from future extinction.
Tonight, the event moves to Cal State Bakersfield for “Fight for Wrestling Bakersfield” a 10-bout, all-professional event dedicated to the Roadrunners program, which along with two other sports, has been charged with independently raising its entire operating budget.
“The Cal Poly one was to definitely help support the team that helps support me,” said Gomez, who has trained with former Mustangs wrestlers Antonio Banuelos, Justin Fraser, Chad Mendes, Chase Pami and co-head coach Mark Perry throughout his 12-year MMA career.
Taking on former Taft High and Taft College athlete Doug Hunt (8-3), Gomez (13-8) said he’ll be using portions of his guarantee to give away 10 tickets in the first five rows, each worth $75, to charity.
A Santa Margarita native who now lives in Grover Beach, Gomez did not wrestle at Atascadero High, where he graduated in 1997.
But after joining Liddell at SLO Kickboxing at age 19 and studying Jiu-Jitsu under Adams, Gomez realized wrestling’s importance in the development of mixed martial artists.
“It’s good to support wrestling as a whole,” Gomez said, “because that’s where we get our background of MMA.”
Gomez’s stirring third-round comeback was the signature moment of Cal Poly’s card after it was announced that Atascadero resident and San Luis Obispo High graduate Casey Noland’s female pro debut was scratched at the last minute.
Noland is scheduled to make that long-awaited debut in Bakersfield against Jenny Trujillo, the opponent who was a no-show in San Luis Obispo.
Also on the card is Cal Poly viticulture major Mike Gahan, who won an amateur bout at Fight for Wrestling in May and is making his pro debut.
San Luis Obispo resident Scott Lighty, a Strikeforce fighter, is scheduled to fight as well.
“It’s like a little satellite community of ours,” Gomez said of the caravan, “a little troop for us to have our support.”