Locals return to invade the cage

Within the confines of Alberto Crane's Gracie Barra Burbank studio sits a brand new cage, as the Glendale resident and Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt touts the growing presence of mixed martial arts inside his gym and beyond.

When he's not teaching classes or competing himself, Crane is also cornering a rising stable of fighters and lending his name to Alberto Crane's National Fighting Alliance Mixed Martial Arts, which will put forth its second Valley Invasion card tonight in Woodland Hills at the Warner Center Marriott.

From the get-go, Crane has emphasized that his hopes were to help with shows that would give local talent a platform to get fights and build up their careers in the cage.

"[We want to] keep on putting out good fights, good shows and, for me, build the fighters into future UFC fighters," said Crane, a two-time veteran of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Among the cavalcade of local Southern California fighters will be Glendale's Sevak Magakian (10-3), who will face Ismael Gonzalez (6-10) of Los Angeles in the night's co-main event.

Magakian competed on the first Valley Invasion card on Oct. 29, 2011 in Burbank, as he defeated David Gardner via technical knockout in the first round. It's part of a span in which Magakian has won three consecutive fights and nine out of his last 10, including two in the past six months' time since recovering from an injury incurred during his time on "The Ultimate Fighter" reality show.

The supreme goal at hand for Magakian is getting back into the spotlight of the UFC.

"That's what I'm looking for is another impressive performance [to] get back to the big show," said Magakian, whose bout is at a 160-pound catch weight.

"No doubt, he has what it takes," said Crane, who is 15-5 as a pro MMA fighter and has trained with Magakian. "He's exciting. He has a different style. I think he's ready now, he just has to prove himself to the brass."

Tonight's main event will showcase undefeated John Robles facing Caleb Vallotton. Robles (5-0) is a 29-year-old featherweight who's won all five of his bouts by knockout, including a first-round win over Bobby Sanchez at the Burbank event. Vallotton, 22, is 1-1.

A quartet of combatants who train under Crane are set for action in Daniel Clark, Ako Harper, Rob Gooch and Keenan Lewis.

Lewis (1-1) will look to carry on the momentum of his first pro win — which saw him defeat Peter Baltimore at the Burbank event via unanimous decision — against Willie Gates (2-2), a Bellator Fighting Championships veteran. Gooch (1-1) is set to take on JJ Williams (1-4) of Lancaster. Harper (0-1) will settle in for a rematch with Jeremy Ramage (2-3) after the latter won a split decision at the Burbank card. Clark (1-1) will square off with Christian Palencia (0-1).

Crane is likely to corner all his fighters, as he isn't technically a promoter.

"Julius [Mojica] and Robert Gleckman, they do all the work, I put my name on it [and] I'm honored," Crane said. "I just try and get my guys the right fights and hopefully get them to the UFC."

In all, seven professional bouts are scheduled along with eight amateur fights.

Rounding out the pro bouts will be a welterweight tilt featuring Los Angeles' Alan Jouban (3-1), a two-time Shark Fights veteran, taking on Daniel McWilliams (10-20).

UFC fighters Clay Guida and Jared Papazian, who is cornered by Crane and often trains in Glendale, are scheduled to appear at the card.

First bell is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and information on tickets can be obtained at http://www.nfamma.com or by calling 818-861-6321.

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