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2 fighters nominated for awards
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Mike Persons and Vince Bordi have been making a name for themselves on the California MMA circuit.

Both Manteca High graduates and both victorious the last time they stepped into the ring, Persons and Bordi are both nominated for Fighter of the Year awards. Winners will be announced Jan. 31 in Fresno.

Persons has a 5-1 pro record in his middleweight class and won his last fight by unanimous decision against Marcus Gaines on Aug. 3 at the Art of War Production’s Tactical Violence event. He won his first-ever MMA fight on Aug. 13, 2011 with an arm-bar submission in the second round over Micah Herbert at the Amador County Fairgrounds.

“I’ll be fighting for the welterweight championship at the Art of War (on April 12),” said Persons, who will bump heads with Lamar Reed (Oakdale MMA) at the Chicken Ranch Casino in Jamestown. “I’m already the middleweight champ, but I’m going down a weight class to fight for a different title.”

Persons, who is listed at 185 pounds, says he has to shed 20 additional pounds in order to make the weight for the bout. It shouldn’t be too much of a task for the Buffaloes’ former four-year wrestler and 2001 graduate, however.

Persons resides in Manteca and trains out of Lodi’s Gracie Fighter, also known as the Nick Diaz Academy. He also trains for boxing out of Felipe’s Boxing Gym in Lathrop.

“I really try to train every day,” said Persons, 30. “I feel I got started a little late in the sport, so I figure I need to work hard to go where I need to go. I feel like I got a lot of good years ahead of me, and I feel like I have to make things happen.”

When Persons isn’t boxing or working on strength and conditioning, he also spends countless hours practicing his Jujitsu skills as well. He also works with brothers Nate and Nick Diaz of Stockton, who are two well-known pro MMA fighters in the business.

“I train with those guys,” said Persons. “They come to the gym and we get first-hand knowledge and training. I have great boxing and good Jujitsu, and I can wrestle too. I’m well-rounded, so wherever the fight goes I’m ready for the situation.

“I’m just trying to go along for the ride and hopefully it lands me some good pay days and some championship belts for whatever organization I’m fighting for.”

Bordi has won his fair share of belts and trophies as well.

The 2006 Manteca graduate wrapped up last year with CAMO, where he went 11-1 and capped it by winning the 2013 California State Championship with a 2:19 knockout over Angelo Henry on Nov. 23. Before that, Bordi won the NorCal championship with a 13-second knockout of Timothy Peterson at the Titan’s Cage on Oct. 12.

That wasn’t Bordi’s most recent bout, however.

Last Friday night at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno, Nev., Bordi made his kick-boxing debut (Muay Thai) at 210 pounds against local product Memo Vasquez. The former Manteca standout wrestler who also competed at San Francisco State University, was listed as an underdog and knocked Vasquez out cold with a hard right that followed a left jab with 1:08 left in the second round.

“I was in Reno against the home-town favorite,” said Bordi. “It was my first kick-boxing match, and I just came out and dominated.

“He got saved by the bell in the first round and I could tell he was hurt.”

Bordi isn’t quite done with amateur fighting, just yet.

Before looking forward to his pro debut in April, Bordi says he will have one more amateur fight next month. By that time, Bordi’s injured hand should be all healed, too.

He says it’s likely misplaced or has a stress fracture that he suffered on Friday against Vasquez -- likely with his knock-out punch.

“I keep injuring my hand,” he explained. “You look at guys that usually break their arm or knee, but I keep breaking my hand on someone’s face.”

Bordi, who trains out of Cortez Martial Arts of Manteca, first cracked his hand wearing MMA gloves during a fight last October.

Promoters are now searching for a formidable professional opponent, and he may even have to drop weight and go down to 185s to find one.

“I actually have a fight on April 12,” he concluded. “I’ve been in contact with both promoters and they’re struggling to find me a fight. They’re trying to find me a guy with more than two or three fights.”