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East gets another shot at Lopez; ‘Shermanator’ steps up

Isaac “The Shermanator” Marquez, left, shows his tattoo with Diego Sanchez at his side during a news conference for Friday’s Jackson-Wink Fight Night 2.

ISLETA PUEBLO — To beat East family nemesis Tony Lopez, Cody East says, he just needs a little ESP.

Extra-sensory perception? No, although that wouldn’t hurt.

Experience. Stamina. Pace.

East, an MMA heavyweight from Los Lunas, is scheduled to face Lopez Friday night in a featured fight on Jackson-Wink Fight Night 2 at Isleta Resort & Casino.

It’s a rematch of an April 2012 fight on a King of the Cage card in Thackerville, Okla. East — 3-0 at the time, 12-3 now — lost that fight by third-round TKO.

East has been aching for another shot at Lopez since.

“There’s a lot of bad blood going back and forth with me and him,” East said on Tuesday a news conference at Isleta. Lopez also has two victories over East’s younger brother, Tyler.

“This is like the third time we were supposed to have a rematch,” East said. “I’ve called him out a few times, and stuff got canceled. I always told him it was going to happen.”

That night 5½ years ago, East hit Lopez with everything but the fire extinguisher on the wall at Winstar World Casino. But Lopez, 29-8 at the time, would not go down.

“He takes a lot of punches,” East said, “and then he kind of wears you out with his face, really. You get tired of hitting it.”

By the end of the second round, East was tired, period. In the third, now with Lopez raining shots on a defenseless East, the fight was stopped.

Lopez, of Yucaipa, Calif., is now 56-26. Friday’s fight will be his 13th of the year.

Still, East believes the experience gap has narrowed.

“I’ve had 10 fights since I fought him,” East said. “I’m a whole different fighter now.”

In the first fight, East said, “I punched that dude, like, 200 times in the first round and got tired. … I just wasn’t experienced enough, and he took advantage of that and knew how to weather the storm.

“Before I knew it, I couldn’t pick my arms up, and I was getting beat up. So (this time) I plan on just keeping a steady pace and not burning myself out.”

East, who has eight wins by knockout or TKO, would love to make it nine on Friday. But, he said of Lopez, “He’s got a head full of concrete, so I don’t know if I can knock him out.

“But if I have to just beat him around for 15 minutes like a heavy bag, I’m ready to do that, too.”

The East-Lopez fight is one of six pro matches scheduled for Friday’s card. A flyweight fight between Albuquerque’s Damacio Page (19-10) and El Paso’s Jesús Urbina (8-5) is the main event.

Five amateur bouts are planned.

THE SHERMANATOR: UFC legend Diego Sanchez will engage in what is labeled a display bout Friday with Isaac “The Shermanator” Marquez, who has Down’s syndrome.

Sanchez said Marquez began coming to Jackson-Wink MMA, where Sanchez trains, saying he loved MMA.

“I said, ‘Do you want to watch, or do you want to train?'” Sanchez said. “He said, ‘I want to train.’ We’ve been working every Thursday since, and this guy’s come a long way.”

Marquez has developed a following online, Sanchez said. “He’s a superstar, and he’s only getting bigger and better.”

Sanchez said his main concern for Marquez has always been his health — diet and exercise.

Of Friday’s “fight,” Sanchez said, “I’m ready for the challenge, and so is Isaac.”

To participate in the exhibition, co-promoter Mike Winkeljohn said, Sanchez needed permission from the UFC. UFC President Dana White gave the OK, Winkeljohn said.

THE SWITCH: When Friday’s card was first announced last month, Jackson-Wink lightweight Chris Brown was matched against Clovis’ Harvey Park — though Park is 8-1 as a professional and Brown has yet to fight as a pro.

The Pueblo of Isleta Tribal Commission, however, vetoed the match.

Park now is matched against Majdeddine Ayadi (10-2), a Frenchman who trains at Jackson-Wink.

Brown is matched against Albuquerque’s Brandon Trujillo (1-2). One of Trujillo’s losses came against Park, via second-round TKO (punches, leg kicks) on Jackson-Wink Fight Night 1 in February.