by John Tarpley
Lucy Lockett Cabe is spinning in her grave. Or maybe the namesake of Wildwood Park's theater, who for years propped up the park and the local opera scene, secretly adored a good brawl. Either way, current Wildwood director Cliff Baker had no qualms about renting the Lucy Lockett Cabe Theater to SUBzero Fighting for "The Ultimate Performing Art," a mixed martial arts bout staged in a cage.
"It sounds terribly exciting. There'll be a whole crowd who'll never have been here," he said. And perhaps unlike a lot of events Wildwood stages, the theater will be full. "We'll sell this venue out," promised Roli Delgado, half of the Little Rock-based SUBzero promoting team as well as one of the top fighters on the card, in a phone interview two weeks ago. Before SUBzero started advertising, it sold five VIP tables for $1,000 each, Delgado said.
That demand reflects MMA's growing national audience, which can now see MMA fighting on The VS channel, MTV2, CBS, Spike and Showtime. Delgado appeared on Spike's "The Ultimate Fighter" in 2008 and has fought in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the sport's biggest promotion. Even with those bona fides, Delgado said Little Rock police officer Josh Black, a born and bred fighter with "an enormous following," will be the night's big draw. He'll fight a veteran of the Strikeforce MMA promotion, a rival to UFC. David Lindsey and Harry Johnson also feature.