Fred Ettish will get the opportunity to restore balance to his competitive mixed martial arts career 15 years, five months and four days after he set foot inside the Octagon at UFC 2.
The 53-year-old Ettish (0-1) will face a still unnamed opponent at a Cage Fighting Xtreme show on Aug. 15 at Bada Bings in Brainerd, Minn. Ettish’s longtime friend and current UFC welterweight Brock Larson runs the Minnesota-based promotion and will provide him with the chance most believe to be long overdue.
“I don’t know for sure who my opponent is yet,” Ettish said. “A few names have been put out, but they have changed back and forth a bit. I have a feeling the changes will continue until fight day -- probably not a known name opponent at this point.”
Ettish has not competed professionally in MMA since his ill-fated appearance at UFC 2 on March 11, 1994 at Mammoth Gardens in Denver. President Clinton was enjoying his second year in office, “Schindler’s List” and “Mrs. Doubtfire” were playing in theaters and Kurt Cobain still fronted Nirvana. Ettish walked into the cage on short notice against Johnny Rhodes, and his life was never the same.
Shortly after their fight began, Rhodes clipped Ettish with a pair of thudding right hands that sent him tumbling to the canvas. Blood flowed from his face, and Rhodes proved relentless with his follow-up barrage, his heavy blows forcing the prone Ettish to cover up in defense. Ettish submitted to a rear-naked choke soon after and became the subject of public ridicule in the MMA community for years. Now, he has returned to right his wrongs.
“I’ve wanted to do this ever since the UFC 2 ‘experience.’ There was always something that prevented me every time I made any serious moves to fight again, and usually it was with an eye to a bigger promotion,” Ettish said. “I know that at my I age I’m blessed to have such good health and fitness, but I also know this will not last forever.”
Ettish resides in Kansas City, Mo., where he runs a martial arts gym affiliated with the Miletich Fighting Systems camp. He has roughly 20 students under his wing at the Damaibushi Martial Arts academy, but the lure to compete again has proven strong.
“I have a lot of ghosts and demons that have not been put to rest, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way to do this is to get back in there and actually do my best and represent in a way I can be proud of,” Ettish said. “I guess I don’t want to die at 0-1.”