Local MMA Fighter Gets Shot in Fight of a Lifetime

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A Canby MMA fighter is getting back in action in a big way, taking part in the Fighting Alliance Championship’s FAC 12: Looking for a Fight on Sunday.

Cris “Sunshine” Lencioni will face off against friend Don “Shameless” Shainis (9-3-0), the 110th-ranked lightweight in the U.S., with Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White and Canadian YouTube stars The Nelk Boys in attendance. The fighter even got a shoutout from White in preparation for the event this week.

Lencioni, who grew up a martial arts fan in Fresno, first realized his dreams when watching an amateur martial arts fight while in southern Oregon.

“I was watching the fight and was not impressed,” Lencioni, who recently spoke with the Current, said. “Those were champion fighters? I knew I was better than them.”

He wasn’t wrong. He soon entered the amateur circuit and compiled an 8-0 record with six finishes in his first nine months. Formerly associated with Bellator, the second-largest combat sports promoter in the country, the 27-year-old featherweight now boasts a 7-2-0 record in professional fights, including three wins in a row, and hopes to make it to the UFC.

His next bout could be a huge step in that process. USA Today just picked him as one of five fighters most likely to be picked up for the UFC circuit, and the format of Sunday’s event — with The Nelk Boys giving a sponsorship to their favorite competitor — seems tailor-made for the colorful scrapper with an outsize personality.

“It’s weird. Some [expletive] crazy, prankster, [expletive] dudes are going to be there,” Lencioni told USA Today’s MMA Junkie. “They sound like my kind of guys. Dana White is going to be there. I’ve been wanting to see him for a minute. And I’m fighting a guy I already know (and have trained with).

“It’s my favorite kind of matchup: a short, stocky wrestler. It’s like cake, dude. I feel like it’s my birthday.”

The California native went to college at Portland State University and later moved to the Canby area with his wife, Marca, whom he credited as a major motivator for his career.

Lencioni remains close to the community by owning and operating Sunshine Athletics, one the largest and most successful youth training programs in the area.

“I saw the difference a coach can make,” Lencioni said. “Growing up, I hated my coaches. I knew that if kids could have even a decent coach, it could reignite the fire and love of it all.”

Lencioni may enjoy teaching fighting more than just about anyone, but now the focus is all on his upcoming fight. He hopes that his skill and personality — which has already caught the eye of those such as White — will be in full force on Sunday night.

The fight will be available on UFCFightPass.com with a subscription.

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