If you go
What: Rampage in the Cage
When: Gates open at 7 p.m.; fights start at 8 p.m.
Where: Moffat County Ice Arena, 600 S. Ranney St.
Cost: $35 at the door
Call: Karrie Booth at 824-4700
It was a few minutes past 6 on Monday night.
Marc Leier and other mixed martial artists stretched in a six-sided cage deep inside Holistic Health & Fitness in Craig.
Leier was wearing a torn T-shirt, dirty work pants and a big grin.
The 39-year-old oil field worker hardly could be called an imposing figure.
Standing at 5-foot something, and weighing 135 pounds, Leier, with his sandy blond hair and perpetual smile lines, looks more like a handyman or friendly neighbor than one half of a title fight.
But that's what he is.
Tonight, for the first time in his life, he'll headline a fight. It'll be the last fight of his life.
When the last bell sounds and one fighter is victorious, Leier will retire from cage fighting.
It doesn't matter to Leier whether he, or his opponent, 22-year-old Tyler Zong, of Meeker, is the winner.
Fighting in "Rampage in the Cage" at 8 p.m. at the Moffat County Ice Arena, Leier will attempt to run his career record to 5-1.
Leier said he was small growing up, which made him a target.
Learning to fight was a direct cause of that.
"I've been little all my life," he said. "Eventually, you get used to being the center of attention."
Growing up in Los Angeles helped mold him into a warrior, he added.
"It's something I've wanted to do for a while," he said. "As soon as I started, I fell in love, really.
"But it's not something everyone ought to do."
For a sport filled with young men, Leier admits he usually is the senior man in the ring.
And that is where his advantage lies.
"Most guys are half my age," he said. "I know the guy I'm fighting is in his 20s, but there is a lot to say about life experience."
That life experience makes Leier a cool customer in the ring.
"It helps calm you before the fights," he said. "It's easier for me to relax. I don't waste all my energy before the fight.
"I might have once been too pumped before a fight, but now I know not to waste anything before it starts."
When the bell rings, the gentle father of four transforms.
"When it's time to go, it's time to go," he said. "The adrenaline kicks in, and I go from 5 miles per hour to 500."
As for his opponent, Leier knows a few things.
"It's going to be a good fight, I know that much," he said. "He's definitely talented, and we are definitely going to have a solid fight.
"I think the fans will get their money's worth."
Fighting is hard, but leaving won't be, Leier said.
When the last bell rings and the arena is empty, Leier will settle for a different type of excitement.
The 39-year-old rookie
In 2006, Leier and his wife, Katie, were watching the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and an idea dawned on him.
"I said, 'I think I could do that,'" he said. "And Katie agreed."
Katie Leier supported her husband through his early attempts.
"I was actually happy to encourage him," she said. "It was something he wanted to try, so I just encouraged him right from the beginning."
When the couple attended the first "Rampage in the Cage" in 2006, Marc Leier became convinced that he would become a cage fighter.
"I had to get my own trainer," he said.
The first fight, an April 2008 bout against Wes Doolin, ended quickly.
Marc Leier won in 23 seconds.
"I saw a side of him I didn't know he had," Katie said. "The match was hard to watch. But, the longer he's been doing it the easier it has become.
"I know it isn't an anger thing, and everyone's usually happy after the fights."
His urge to fight competitively was not a surprise to him.
"I love to win, I love a challenge," he said. "I love right before a fight, how your blood gets going. It's a whole different world.
"Just talking about it gets my heart pumping."
However, the fight game is something Marc Leier said he is ready to give up after tonight.
"My time has finally come up," he said. "You've got to grow up sometime."
With any mention of his children, he perks up.
Without hesitation, he can rattle off the names of his four children (Jessica, Chelsey, Molly and Simon) and five grandchildren (Valerie, Cambry, Caleb, Silus and Penelope) in the order they were born.
With his retirement, he will have more time with them all.
"They all live around here, so I'm lucky in that way," he said. "I look forward to more time with them."
When training starts, it engulfs his life, Marc Leier said.
"I work on everything," he said. "I focus everything into fighting, and sometimes everything else has to go on the backburner.
"I want to enjoy my time with my wife, my kids and grandkids."
Marc Leier's last fight also will be his father's first.
Ray Leier will travel from Los Angeles to watch his son.
"I know times are tough," Marc Leier said. "I'm just happy to see him fly out for one fight."
Leier said if he was given the chance to start at Zong's age, he would not have looked back.
"If I was younger, it might have been a different story," he said. "I got into it too late, but who knows what could have happened if I started earlier."
But, regardless of how tonight's fight ends, Leier said he knows he has already won.
"It's just: in order to take it to the next level, it takes an enormous amount of dedication," he said. "For me, it's always been family first."