The Pain Event

The look on the face of Homer "The Rock" Moore as he pounds his fists and elbows in vicious combinations against a trainer's gloves is pure intensity, wide-eyed and emotionless, in stark contrast to the homicidal punishment his 205-pound frame is unleashing. Moore is at Brausa Academy, preparing for his next bout, the main event on this weekend's Rage in the Cage mixed martial arts fight bill. Ranked No. 1 in Arizona's Rage in the Cage Heavyweight Division, the 30-year-old Moore is coming off an early November loss to Evan Tanner in the infamous pay-per-view Ultimate Fighting Championship -- and he's more than a little pissed off about it.

He calls his pre-UFC training "gross negligence," claiming his trainer was responsible for the sprained tendon and stretched ligaments he suffered prior to his world-championship bout. Still, the words "world champion" roll off Moore's tongue like he's been saying them since birth, and looking at him, with more ripples and bulges than the Michelin man, you're not inclined to contradict him.

"I will be the world champion," he says. "UFC will bring me back -- I wasn't unable to win; I was unable to give 110 percent."

Moore speaks repeatedly of representing Arizona and all of the local support he has garnered by fighting in events like Rage in the Cage, but he puts himself in a singular category.

"Nobody has a chance against me in Arizona," he says. "They're not ready for somebody like me."

This weekend, 19-year-old Joseph Riggs, ranked No. 3 in Rage in the Cage's Heavyweight Division, will be challenging that assertion within the eight-foot-tall steel cage. Moore holds two black belts -- one in shootfighting, one in submission grappling -- and was an Olympic wrestling qualifier in 1996; Riggs, meanwhile, is a former state heavyweight wrestling champion and studies Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Rage in the Cage fights are similar to the no-holds-barred Ultimate Fighting Championship matches, but with a few rules -- no head butts, elbows, hair-pulling, groin kicks, or eye-gouging. Nonetheless, the immensely successful event, organized by Ronald Sarria of Brausa Academy, is a fascinating mix of martial arts disciplines. While Moore and Riggs will likely spend much of their three three-minute rounds grappling on the mat, the co-main event, featuring contenders Jimmy Ambriz and Allan "A-Dawg" Sullivan, pits a standup striker against a kickboxer with outstanding submission grappling skills.

With 12 fights scheduled for Saturday, highlighted by Moore's first Arizona appearance since his UFC loss, this Rage in the Cage is a fight fan's dream. Attendees can also revel in their own altruism -- Moore is donating his fees to the New York City Fire Department, as well as arranging for donations to FDNY to be collected at the fight.