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Friends or foes, Smith, Esquibel are ready to fight

December 2, 2018

According to the urban dictionary, a frenemy is someone who acts like a friend but is in truth an antagonist.

An enefriend is someone who may act like an antagonist but is actually a friend.

For MMA flyweight fighters Marquis Smith and Ricky Esquibel, scheduled to face each other in the cage Friday on Jackson-Wink Fight Night 4 at Isleta Resort & Casino, both terms seem to apply.

At a news conference at Isleta on Wednesday, it was clear the two like each other despite some obligatory trash talk.

Friday, before their fight, they’ll respectfully touch gloves.

Then, with all due respect, each will try to take the other guy’s head off.

Both men are from Albuquerque, though Smith moved to San Antonio, Texas, some three years ago. Beginning in their amateur days and continuing into their pro careers, they’ve seen each other as prospective opponents.

Finally, it’s happening.

“So, Marquis, it’s been a few years,” Esquibel said, addressing his opponent from the dais. “You’re here, we’re ready.”

Smith said he’s been ready for a while.

“It’s a fight that this city wants to see,” said Smith, who has family in Albuquerque, including a daughter, and gets back from San Antonio when he can. “Coming home and fighting in front of everybody ... this is the fight I wanted. I wouldn’t have wanted to come home and fight anybody else.”

Esquibel, for his part, chided Smith for violating social-media protocol a while back by posting a photo of Esquibel on Instagram while calling him out.

“Dude, it’s weird,” Esquibel said.

Smith pointed out that he posts far more photos of himself on Instagram than of anyone else.

″(Being) this good-looking, how could I not?” he said.

All of Smith’s previous pro fights have been at the 135-pound bantamweight limit, and Esquibel - a career flyweight - questioned whether Smith would be able to make the 125-pound flyweight limit without extreme difficulty.

“Marquis, how are you feeling?” he asked.

Smith assured him he felt fine.

A touch of irony here: on Thursday, Smith weighed in at 124.2 pounds, Esquibel at 125.8. Neither fighter appeared to be negatively affected by their successful attempts to make weight.

Esquibel, who trains in Albuquerque at Jackson-Wink, is 3-1 as a pro. He’s eager to get back in the win column after losing a split decision to Chris Cortez on Jackson-Wink Fight Night 3 at Isleta in June.

“I’m excited for this fight,” he said. “I’ve trained hard and I’ve worked hard, and the last thing I want to do is go out there and do a bad fight.

“I’m excited just to represent the best team in the world, represent myself and show why I’m up-and-coming, why people want to see me fight, because they know every fight’s exciting for me.”

Smith won a couple of amateur fights in Albuquerque before moving to San Antonio. He’s 2-3 as a pro and coming off a loss by unanimous decision to Aaron Vickers. All five of Smith’s pro fights have been contested in Texas.

“If you look at my record, yes, I’m 2-3, but if you look at all my opponents you see I’ve never taken an easy fight, asked for an easy fight,” Smith said. ”(Now) I have a 3-1 opponent standing on the opposite side of the cage with me, and I’m happy for that because at the end of the day we’re testing each other.

“That’s what I’m about, and we’re gonna steal the show. ... “I know everybody (else on the card) is gonna put a fight on, but me and Ricky are gonna steal the show.”

SHOWROOM UPGRADE: Friday’s card will be the first event at Isleta’s remodeled Showroom.

Jaci Marx, Isleta’s director of marketing, said the Showroom features more comfortable seating, improved sight lines and more and more convenient concession areas.

BUSY WEEKEND: Friday’s card kicks of a hectic combat sports weekend.

Also on Friday, Albuquerque MMA welterweight Tim Means (27-10-1) will face Rickey Rainey (13-5) on the UFC’s Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale in Las Vegas, Nev.

On Saturday, Albuquerque welterweight Josh Torres headlines a Legacy Promotions pro boxing card at Expo New Mexico. Torres (18-6-2), 10 KOs) is matched against Mexico’s Mohamed Rodriguez (11-6-1, four KOs).

On Sunday, FIT-NHB lightweight Sherwin Price (5-0) is scheduled to face Nick Angeloni (3-0) of Norco, Calif., in the main event of King of the Cage MMA card at the Santa Ana Star Center.

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Friday

Jackson-Wink Fight Night 4, 7 p.m., Isleta Resort & Casino: Abel Cullum vs. Steve Garcia, Ricky Esquibel vs. Marquis Smith, Celine Haga vs. Kali Robbins, five other fights.Tickets: $25-$75, holdmyticket.com or at Isleta box office

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