Rolla’s Ken Sparks, Jr. said he wasn’t planning on returning to the cage.


But then came an opportunity that he couldn’t pass up. And after that opportunity was dashed, another one popped up immediately.


As a result, Sparks ends his retirement from full-contact fighting Saturday night in Lafayette, La.


Sparks, a former champion fighter, is hoping to earn another title when he returns to competition Saturday against former UFC world champion Ricco “Suave” Rodriguez for the USA-MMA heavyweight championship.


The press conference for the fight is 5:30 p.m. Saturday. The card begins at 8 p.m.


Sparks, age 37, is the owner of the Warrior Gym in Rolla. He has competed as a professional wrestler, a professional boxer and a full-contact fighter. As a full-contact fighter Sparks won light heavyweight and heavyweight world championships in the Masters of the Cage organization in 2007.


However, his last fight was 1 1/2 years ago, as he retired to train a stable of Warrior Gym full-contact fighters and boxers.


“I wasn’t looking to return,” Sparks said. “But my manager is always looking for fights. And I had an opportunity to fight a guy off the Ultimate Fighter television show. So I took it.”


Sparks took the fight, scheduled for this month, in February. He weighed more than 280 pounds in February. But the fight was in the light-heavyweight division.


“I started at 282 (pounds) in February,” he said. “And I got down to 215. I had to get down to 205, and would have lost the last 10 pounds that last week.”


However, right before the fight was to happen Sparks’ opponent pulled out.

Sparks didn’t have time to gain a pound back before he got another call.


“I had been working since February and then the fight fell through,” he said. “But just a day or two after it fell through my manager called about fighting Rodriguez.”


This bout is a heavyweight fight, meaning Sparks has been putting weight back on. He said he plans on being 225 pounds at weigh-in.


Rolla’s Ken Sparks, Jr. said he wasn’t planning on returning to the cage.

But then came an opportunity that he couldn’t pass up. And after that opportunity was dashed, another one popped up immediately.

As a result, Sparks ends his retirement from full-contact fighting Saturday night in Lafayette, La.

Sparks, a former champion fighter, is hoping to earn another title when he returns to competition Saturday against former UFC world champion Ricco “Suave” Rodriguez for the USA-MMA heavyweight championship.

The press conference for the fight is 5:30 p.m. Saturday. The card begins at 8 p.m.

Sparks, age 37, is the owner of the Warrior Gym in Rolla. He has competed as a professional wrestler, a professional boxer and a full-contact fighter. As a full-contact fighter Sparks won light heavyweight and heavyweight world championships in the Masters of the Cage organization in 2007.

However, his last fight was 1 1/2 years ago, as he retired to train a stable of Warrior Gym full-contact fighters and boxers.

“I wasn’t looking to return,” Sparks said. “But my manager is always looking for fights. And I had an opportunity to fight a guy off the Ultimate Fighter television show. So I took it.”

Sparks took the fight, scheduled for this month, in February. He weighed more than 280 pounds in February. But the fight was in the light-heavyweight division.

“I started at 282 (pounds) in February,” he said. “And I got down to 215. I had to get down to 205, and would have lost the last 10 pounds that last week.”

However, right before the fight was to happen Sparks’ opponent pulled out.
Sparks didn’t have time to gain a pound back before he got another call.

“I had been working since February and then the fight fell through,” he said. “But just a day or two after it fell through my manager called about fighting Rodriguez.”

This bout is a heavyweight fight, meaning Sparks has been putting weight back on. He said he plans on being 225 pounds at weigh-in.