BURBANK, Calif. -- Kickboxing legend Ray Sefo was looking to fulfill one of his few remaining combat sports goals when he decided to take a mixed martial arts fight against Dave Huckaba at World Series of Fighting 4 on Saturday: He wanted to reach 100 professional fights.
But the 42-year-old Sefo recently went over his record with an old trainer and discovered his most recent fight, a kickboxing loss to Mirko Cro Cop in March of last year, was actually No. 100.
"Everything I've done in my life, there's meaning toward it," Sefo said at a recent WSOF media luncheon. "And, about four weeks into camp, I actually got a phone call from my former coach from New Zealand. ... And I was like, hey, I think I'm at 96 fights at the moment. I'm trying to figure it out. And we counted back, and it's actually 100 fights right now."
So even though Saturday's NBC Sports Network-televised main-card bout will be career fight No. 101, there was no turning back. The affable New Zealander hasn't fought MMA since a first-round loss to Valentijn Overeem in Feb. 2011, which dropped his MMA record in 2-1, and the kickboxing loss to Cro Cop was nearly a year and a half ago.
"I'm not going to lie, the first four weeks of camp were tough," said Sefo, who entered camp weighing 273 and is walking around this week at about 255. "Now I know what it is like to really fully focus, but by the fifth week I was light on my feet. I'm good, I'm ready and 100 percent come Saturday ready to fight."
Of course, anyone who has kept tabs on WSOF knows there's there's something different about this fight at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif.: Sefo isn't just a fighter, he's the president of WSOF. Sefo is quick to point out that he never declared a formal retirement when he took over WSOF duties.
"I'm a fighter first and foremost," Sefo said. "I never retired. I never said I retired. The opportunity presented itself because Rolles got injured. We thought, what do you think and I said let's make it happen. I was fortunate to get that opportunity to not only fight but pursue one of my goals, not knowing I had already got there. I'm ready to go."
Sefo stepped aside from WSOF office duties in order to train for the fight. "My focus is 100 percent on training camp," he said.
In the 39-year-old Huckaba, Sefo will step in the cage with another veteran. Huckaba, a Sacremento native, is an old hand on the California scene. Since a Bellator loss last year, Huckaba (20-5) has won three straight fights, all via finish.
"Dave's record speaks for itself," Sefo said. "I'm not taking him lightly at all. It's a fight, anything can happen. We've seen it so many times. You don't put in 9-10 weeks of camp to go in there and lose."
With his original motivation to get back in fighting shape removed, for Sefo, Saturday's fight has simply become a matter of pride.
"One of my goals was to reach 100 fights," said Sefo. "Because after winning six world titles, fighting some of the best fighters in the world in K-1, and then in 2010 I was inducted into the Martial Arts Masters hall of fame. In 2011, I was inducted into the USA [Martial Arts] Hall of Fame, which, it blew my mind because I never ever dreamed, I was a young kid from New Zealand, I never thought I'd be inducted into a Hall of Fame."