Kyle Kurtz looks to end MMA career with one more win at Cage of Honor 90

Kyle "The Hurtz" Kurtz poses with his Cage of Honor title belt at Peak Performance Gym in Cape Girardeau. Kurtz is set to fight at Cage of Honor 90 on Saturday, Nov. 4 at the AC Base Arena.
Tony Capobianco ~

Jackson native Kyle "The Hurtz" Kurtz fought professionally since 2015. He's compiled a winning record of 12-10 and has been to Bellator and back, but when he enters the cage as the main event in Cage of Honor 90 on Saturday, Nov. 4, in the AC Base Arena, he will do so for the last time as a fighter.

"This is gonna be more exciting than anything knowing that it's my last one and that I have a hometown crowd there," Kurtz said. "It's gonna be better than me being far away. Being able to fight in front of everybody, all my friends and family, emotions might be there a little bit more than normal just because it's my last fight."

Kurtz's fight against Tavae Lewis will put the bow on an eight-year pro career. One of the key perks of fighting at COH90 is advertising his bail bonds business, which is the next phase of his life in Southeast Missouri.

"I wanted to be a fighter because I wanted to be able to fight for my family, and I then I did exactly that," Kurtz said. "I built a platform. I'm running my own business off of that. I incorporated my business name. I branded myself from Kyle 'The Hurtz' Kurtz to Time Hurtz Bailbonds."

Kurtz has fought in five Cage of Honor events, winning four of them. He said the MMA scene in Southeast Missouri has "grown tremendously" since his career started.

"These guys here, their careers are going to skyrocket from here," Kurtz said. "Back then, I didn't have the coaching. I had to travel for my coaching, and now they've got the coaches here. That's the difference between what I had and what they have."

Most of the local COH fighters are members of the War Eagle Fight Team and train in the Peak Performance gym in Cape Girardeau. Both the promotion and team are run by DeRay Ivie.

"They're growing each and every day," Kurtz said. "We had jiu-jitsu, we got wrestling, we got kickboxing, Muay Thai, and everything. It's all here. I had to travel for that because we didn't have all that down here, but now we've got it all here. You're gonna see these guys in the UFC without a doubt."

Throughout his career, Kurtz fought in three Bellator events, twice in St. Louis and once in Dublin, Ireland, where he described experiencing the entrance as a "goosebumps" moment.

"Tens of thousands of people in the arena just going 'olay, olay, olay, olay'," Kurtz said.

His first Bellator fight in St. Louis was his most memorable. Kurtz fought in six fights in 2015, his first year as a pro, including two Bellator matches in Enterprise Center.

"At the time, I was working down here as a welder," Kurtz said. "My work went and let me off. So I worked a 10-hour shift, then drove all the way up to the (then-known) Scottrade Center and fought the dude and beat him in the second round. That was my coolest."

Kurtz defeated Adam Cella by submission with an armbar in Bellator 138 and then beat him again at Shamrock FC on June 3, 2016, by the same method. Eight of his wins came from submission.

"I love doing jiu-jitsu but I love putting my hands on people," Kurtz said. "I love being able to knock them out but I think the thing is, once people get a taste of my power, they want to go to the ground. They want to shoot to the ground so it goes from wrestling to jiu-jitsu and then submission. So I got to finish."

Kurtz looks to go out on top on Saturday and remain a presence in the growing fight game in Cape Girardeau County as a sparring partner and coach in the future.

"This has been the best training camp Iíve had," Kurtz said. "My team and my coaches have really helped me to prepare for this fight. And I will continue to help my teammates for their fights and train because it goes hand-in-hand with my business as a bail bondsman."

Danielle Thomason fights Joy Connelly for first female COH title

Cage of Honor 90 will feature a first of its kind, an amateur title fight among female fighters. One of the combatants has one of the most unique nicknames in MMA.

Joy Connelly will take on Danielle "The Wife Beater" Thomason for the flyweight belt on Saturday, Nov. 4, at the AC Base Arena. Both fighters enter COH90 with two wins under their belt and have yet to taste defeat.

The simple reason behind "The Wife Beater" nickname is Thomason thought it was a funny nickname.

"My favorite part about it is everyone's reactions," Thomason said. "Every time somebody says 'Hey, what's your nickname?' I get a little bit excited inside because I know as soon as you say 'The Wife Beater' their face is gonna be shocked or you're gonna laugh. It's always funny."

Thomason moved to Cape Girardeau from Arkansas with the purpose of fighting at Cage of Honor and building her MMA career. When she's not training, she works as a barista at Starbucks.

"I couldn't really find a gym that I vibed with in Arkansas," Thomason said, "so I started traveling."

She met Cage of Honor promoter DeRay Ivie and found a home at his gym in Peak Performance.

"I feel like it's gonna get my name out there for sure," Thomason said. "I just moved to Missouri. Nobody here knows who I am. There's not a lot of women's MMA here so I feel like it's gonna just let people know who I am and what I'm about."

Tomason got into fighting because of her exposure to it on the internet and also felt it was an important skill for self-defense.

When I was a kid I used to watch a lot of street fights on YouTube, and I thought it looked fun," Tomanson said. "I went to a local MMA gym and started doing jiu-jitsu. About a year or so in, I started doing kickboxing and decided I wanted to take an MMA fight once I was old enough."

Both Thomason and Connelly have an opportunity to advance women's MMA in Missouri with a good fight on Saturday.

"Honestly, I feel like women's MMA doesn't get enough attention," Thomason said. "I feel like I'm representing women in this town, and I feel honored and very excited about it."

Cage of Honor 90 Fight Card

185lb Pro MMA title: Lewis vs. Kurtz (main event)

Heavyweight Pro MMA title: Williams vs. Overvig (co-main event)

170lb MMA title: Tschantz vs. Carpenter

170lb K1 title: Henderson vs. Terry

125lb MMA title: Connelly vs. Thomason

135lb MMA title: Crump vs. Wiborn

170lb K1: Barkau vs. Ross

185lb K1: Whitaker vs. Fitzgerald

125lb MMA: Labbe vs. Hidalgo

125lb MMA: Bowen vs. Lopez

155lb MMA: Hatton vs. Hooe

170lb MMA: Albert vs. Hinz

145lb MMA: Mitchell vs. Prater

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