PALMER — For nearly a decade, there’s only been one source of local combat entertainment in the Valley, and that’s AK Tuesday Night Fights.
Or at least it used to be.
Now that the core base is built up, founder Billy Christensen felt it was time to “evolve” and rebrand the company as Alaska Combat Entertainment.
“We’re excited,” Christensen said inside Hempire Co. Sana Vos Health & Beauty, a store he runs with his wife Heather.
The name isn’t the only thing that’s changed. The fights have been moved from Tuesday to Friday. The first show under the new name is this Friday at the Menard Sports Center.
John Faletagoai and Odie Delaney are flying in from the Lower 48 to face off in the ACE Heavyweight Championship.
“It’s gonna’ be fireworks… They’re gonna’ love it,” Christensen said.
Changing the name and day of a brand people have grown accustomed to is a risky move, according Christensen. But he’s confident the time is right and in the long run, it will be the right move. He said that news of the name change has already spread around the Valley rather quickly.
“There’s a buzz,” Christensen said.
Eight years ago, Christensen established Tuesday Night Fights to bring the community together under mixed martial arts.
He said the reason why he chose Tuesday and ran with it was to make sure he wasn’t competing with more established venues like Alaska Fighting Championship. Plus, he also didn’t want to compete with other nonfighting weekend happenings.
“Alaskans want to do things on the weekends,” Christensen said.
Now, the core following is there and they can handle the change, according to Christensen. He said that it will work out better for the fighters and spectators, especially the ones who want to enjoy themselves late into the night without having to worry about the weekday waiting for them in the morning.
“We’ve evolved… I think it’s gonna’ work,” Christensen said.
Christensen noted this change was not just his decision. He said the fans and fighters both expressed interest in moving to Friday.
“We listened,” Christensen said.
Christensen said the connection between the crowd and the performance is very intimate at their shows, more so than any other venue. He said both newcomers and longtime spectators frequently get find themselves very invested in the action.
“We thank the crowd for their help and they thank us,” Christensen said.
For years, Christensen’s fighting venue has been the proving ground for up and coming fighters. To this day, Christensen takes in fighters of all levels, willing to give anyone a shot in the ring.
He said that he’s witnessed countless young men flourish in the sport. His favorite success stories come from the ones who end up turning their whole lives around, the ones who rise from their own darkness and conquer their demons for good.
He said that helping these young boys grow into productive men in the community makes all his efforts worth it. The former fighter expressed gratitude for being able to build a life around his passion with plenty of help from the community along the way.
“It’s actually a dream come true,” Christensen said.
After 140 shows in the Valley, Christensen is ready to move ACE forward with the ever growing Valley.
“We really appreciate the community support,” Christensen said.
For the Friday Oct. 11 show, doors open at 6 p.m. and the fights kick off at 7:45 p.m. All ages are welcome. Tickets are $18 at the door and $15 for pre-purchase.
For more information about the show or to learn about fighting opportunities in the future, call 907-947-3464.