MMA pros, amateurs gather in Phoenix for The Coalition of Combat

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GILBERT, Ariz. -- Arizona has become a hotbed for MMA talent. Arizona fighters are now dominating the UFC and cages around the country.

Several of the best pros and amateurs will gather June 2 at the Phoenix Convention Center for The Coalition of Combat: Clash of the Titans.

For Aaron Caryl it all started with a video game.

“When I was 15 or 16 years old I got a video game for Christmas, it was a UFC game," Caryl explained. "I just played the video game and I loved it. So, I bought a DVD and started watching it and eventually started training with some buddies at school."

Fast forward a couple of years and Caryl is now training at Power MMA in Gilbert. Power MMA is packed with UFC pros like Ryan Bader, Aaron Simpson and C.B. Dollaway.

He is hoping the high-profile instructors will give him the edge he needs on Saturday, June 2, when he fights Jamie Gutierrez.

Anthony Birchak has watched several former training buddies make it to the bright lights of the UFC. As a pro fighter he rocks a 7-1 record and feels he is just a few fights away from getting the call.

He has quit his job so he can focus on training. You will find the gym rat working out three times a day.

The Tucson resident trains out of APEX MMA. This Saturday, he may have one of the most anticipated fights. He will enter the cage with Roman Salazar.

Several of the country’s most prominent MMA and UFC fighters train in the Valley.

Last weekend’s highly hyped UFC 146 included at least three winning fighters with ties to Arizona:

Cain Velasquez is on a collision course to get his belt back. He easily dispatched Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva in UFC 146. Velasquez grew up in Yuma and dominated as an Arizona State University wrestler.

Dollaway also made a name for himself on the ASU wrestling team. He basically ended the career of Mayhem Miller Saturday.

Fan favorite Jamie Varner beat Edson Barboza with a first round TKO. Varner went to Deer Valley High School in Glendale. Some of the proceeds from the Coalition of Combat: Clash of the Titans will go to local Police and Fire Departments.