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CV grad Tubera finds niche in MMA fighter
Former Hawk wrestler Mike Tubera won his first two MMA matches. Tubera competes in the flyweight division.

A standout wrestler in high school, 2008 Central Valley graduate Mike Tubera continued his career at Modesto Junior College.

Tubera made the team during the 2011 and 2010 seasons but never broke into the Pirates' starting lineup.

"It was torture watching other people compete," he said.

Mike, 23, doesn't have to bottle up his aggression anymore.

He joined the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) amateur circuit this past year.

"It's something I've always wanted to do," Tubera said. "I just wanted to compete again."

Mike improved to 2-0 in the flyweight division (125 pounds) this past month.

Tubera made his debut at the Rogue Warrior Championships on Nov. 10 in Laughlin, Nev.

"Cameras were everywhere," he said. "There were ring girls. There were a lot of people there. It was pretty nerve racking."

Mike won by knockout in the first round as he floored Jaime Munoz Jr. with an overhand right.

"I was pretty shocked it ended that way," said Tubera, who was awarded KO of the Night. "It was pretty intense."

Tubera won by third-round submission (rear-naked choke) over Carlos Campos at the Art of War Productions' Game Face-Respect the Game event on Jan. 19 at Chicken Ranch Casino in Jamestown.

"For the most part, it's been a smooth transition," he said. "I'm really good on the ground and at takedowns. A lot of guys like to stand and box. I love doing that too. I've always been an aggressive person.

Mike, younger brother Victor Tubera (155 pounds, 1-0) and Ceres High grad Tony Spinella (165 pounds, 0-0) are scheduled to compete at the IFC King of the Cage next month in Oroville.

They'll train four to five times a week at the Bad to the Bonz Boxing Club/Team Voodoo facility in downtown Modesto leading up to the March 3 showcase.

When he's not fighting, Mike makes a living working for Foster Farms in Denair. He volunteers as a wrestling coach at his alma mater, Blaker-Kinser Jr. High. He's also a father.

"I take him (three-year-old son Ezekiel) to the gym and wrestling practice with me," Tubera said. "He likes to watch."

Advised to forego his senior season with the Hawks after suffering a devastating knee injury, Mike resisted and made a triumphant return to the mat. He captured the Valley Oak League 121-pound title, finished third at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championships and qualified for Masters.

Tubera was named Central Valley High School Male Athlete of the Year.

"I love everything about it (MMA)," he said. "The training, competition and payoff. There's nothing better than winning. Hopefully, I can make it big."