"This isn't just a sporting event," Tyler Sory says. "It's an event for Memphis."
That event is the mixed marital arts bouts presented by Empire Fights on Friday at Minglewood Hall.
Sory is a Germantown High grad and former tennis pro. He got into mixed martial arts while living in Florida. Looking to lose some weight, Sory began training with a man who got him not only in shape but hooked on the sport. Sory started promoting fights in Biloxi and recently was lured by investors back to his hometown to start Empire Fights.
According to Sory, Empire is scheduled to have regular events at Minglewood and Harrah's Tunica. Friday night's fights will feature the top amateurs from around the region competing to be on the card at the Harrah's event in October.
Sory says that Empire Fights' bouts are on a "different level" from those of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). "The UFC is basically the Coca-Cola of the world," he explains. "We're San Pellegrino." Instead of a UFC-style spectacle of loud music and mayhem, Sory envisions something more like the boxing matches of the 1960s for Empire, where patrons will "get dressed up for an evening's entertainment, bring their wives and girlfriends."