San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Nicaraguans say ‘Ya basta’ to former boxing champ

MANAGUA, Nicaragua – The emotional response and quick defeat of fighter Ricardo Mayorga after a much-anticipated mixed martial arts match with visiting MMA fighter René Martínez last Saturday has created a stir among sports fans in Nicaragua.

Following a match that lasted just 1:40 in round one after Mayorga was choked in a guillotine position, the former national boxing champion burst into tears and shouted, “I have the balls, but not the experience!”

A sobbing Mayorga – who is known as “El Matador” (“the killer”) – apologized “to all of Nicaragua for failing.”

Mayorga then asked Martínez – known as “Level” – if he could train with him for eight months in Miami, where the Cuban-American resides, and then hold a rematch.

Mayorga added, “I cry because I am a man,” a phrase that set local news and social media abuzz.

Expectations for the match were high, as Nicaraguans crowded around television sets and filled Managua’s national stadium, where 6,000 tickets were sold for the event. Rappers took the stage, other flashy musicians performed, and Mayorga sported a trademark Sandinista logo in support of President Daniel Ortega’s ruling party.

But fans left disappointed in their hero, who had become a Sandinista symbol of national pride.

“All the hype, for what?” one spectator remarked after the short battle. “I spent $45 on my ticket to see a few rappers and a short match that was hardly a fight.”

Boxing, ultimate fighting and martial arts are wildly popular in the Central American country of nearly 6 million people, the poorest country in the region.

Other fans took to Twitter and Facebook to complain.

“Mayorga should retire and look for other work so he can survive,” one fan posted on Facebook.

Mayorga is a former two-division boxing champion and thought to be one of Nicaragua’s best boxers in a country where the sport is second in popularity only to baseball. But as his ranking dropped, Mayorga turned to mixed martial arts competition to reinvent himself.

In its first year of competition in Nicaragua, MMA is a mix of boxing, karate, tae kwan do and judo. The country’s first MMA match, in which Mayorga also competed, ended in a no-contest after Matador launched an illegal knee into his opponent’s back, landing the champ a three-month suspension and nullifying the match.

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