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A 2001 Phoenix New Times piece on Homer Moore.

The article came out in December 2001. In November 2001 Moore had lost to Evan Tanner at UFC 34. In the article he talks about his desire to return to the UFC. He never did. He did though lose a fight to Allan Goes in the IFL in 2007.

http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/2001-12- ... ain-event/

The Pain Event

Homer Moore's got the rage, Celebrity Theatre has the cage

By Brendan Joel Kelley Thursday, Dec 13 2001

Arizona's No. 1 bruiser, Homer Moore, top , looks to beat down his competition at this weekend's Rage in the Cage

The look on the face of Homer "The Rock" Moore as he pounds his fists and elbows in vicious combinations against a trainer's gloves is pure intensity, wide-eyed and emotionless, in stark contrast to the homicidal punishment his 205-pound frame is unleashing. Moore is at Brausa Academy, preparing for his next bout, the main event on this weekend's Rage in the Cage mixed martial arts fight bill. Ranked No. 1 in Arizona's Rage in the Cage Heavyweight Division, the 30-year-old Moore is coming off an early November loss to Evan Tanner in the infamous pay-per-view Ultimate Fighting Championship -- and he's more than a little pissed off about it.

He calls his pre-UFC training "gross negligence," claiming his trainer was responsible for the sprained tendon and stretched ligaments he suffered prior to his world-championship bout. Still, the words "world champion" roll off Moore's tongue like he's been saying them since birth, and looking at him, with more ripples and bulges than the Michelin man, you're not inclined to contradict him.

"I will be the world champion," he says. "UFC will bring me back -- I wasn't unable to win; I was unable to give 110 percent."

Moore speaks repeatedly of representing Arizona and all of the local support he has garnered by fighting in events like Rage in the Cage, but he puts himself in a singular category.

"Nobody has a chance against me in Arizona," he says. "They're not ready for somebody like me."

This weekend, 19-year-old Joseph Riggs, ranked No. 3 in Rage in the Cage's Heavyweight Division, will be challenging that assertion within the eight-foot-tall steel cage. Moore holds two black belts -- one in shootfighting, one in submission grappling -- and was an Olympic wrestling qualifier in 1996; Riggs, meanwhile, is a former state heavyweight wrestling champion and studies Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Rage in the Cage fights are similar to the no-holds-barred Ultimate Fighting Championship matches, but with a few rules -- no head butts, elbows, hair-pulling, groin kicks, or eye-gouging. Nonetheless, the immensely successful event, organized by Ronald Sarria of Brausa Academy, is a fascinating mix of martial arts disciplines. While Moore and Riggs will likely spend much of their three three-minute rounds grappling on the mat, the co-main event, featuring contenders Jimmy Ambriz and Allan "A-Dawg" Sullivan, pits a standup striker against a kickboxer with outstanding submission grappling skills.

With 12 fights scheduled for Saturday, highlighted by Moore's first Arizona appearance since his UFC loss, this Rage in the Cage is a fight fan's dream. Attendees can also revel in their own altruism -- Moore is donating his fees to the New York City Fire Department, as well as arranging for donations to FDNY to be collected at the fight.

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A 2002 Phoenix New Times story about how midget wrestlers are angry at their treatment by Phoenix area promoters. Rage in the Cage is mentioned.

http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/2002-05- ... dge-match/

Grudge Match

Midget wrestlers say Phoenix fight events are giving them the short shrift

By Susy Buchanan Thursday, May 9 2002

Little Nasty Boy sits sullenly at home in Oregon on a weekday afternoon. He has just been informed, for the second time in two weeks, that a scheduled midget wrestling bout in Phoenix, in which he was to take on Pitbull Patterson, has been canceled. The news hits him like a Stone Cold Stunner, especially coming from a reporter rather than the promoter, and just two days before the scheduled bout.

Nasty's angry, but doesn't sound surprised.

"It's bullshit, it's discrimination," he says. "They won't let us wrestle because we're little people. If we were full height, there'd be no question. No one would call a wrestling match a freak show. No one would call us freaks," he barks. "It's total discrimination!"

After a two-year absence, it seemed this past month that Phoenix fans would finally get a long-awaited fix of midget wrestling. Two separate events listed it on the bill: Fight Night, an intercollegiate amateur boxing event and fund raiser for Arizona State University's boxing program, and the ever-popular Rage in the Cage extreme cage-fighting tournament. But no midgets were to be found at either event, and no explanation given to the crowd assembled.

Granted, the fans at last Friday's Rage in the Cage didn't seem to notice. They appeared content watching full-size men roll around on the mat together, with Hooters round-card girls prancing around the octagonal cage on the rare occasion that a match lasted more than one round. However, the mostly college students at Fight Night April 13 were clearly disappointed.

"We come out to support every ASU event," one attendee said, taking a break from accompanying Metallica on air guitar before the event. "But we were, like, super-psyched for this one because the dude said there'd be midget wrestling, and those little guys are awesome!"

First-time promoter boxing coach Larry Lentz added midgets to the Fight Night card to bring in more fans, hoping they'd satisfy their curiosity and then take an interest in his own fighters. Lentz hoped the money generated would go toward sending his boxers to compete in other states next season. "The whole point was to raise money to fly my kids to compete in other cities and raise the level of the sport here."

When the collegiate boxing association learned midgets would be on the same card as the boxers, however, it threatened to deny an intercollegiate sanction. The news hit Lentz like a drop kick from the third rope.

"I was really depressed. I love midgets," he said. Although Lentz tried bargaining with the commission and even considered registering Pitbull and Nasty as boxers so as not to disappoint his fans, there was no way to retain both the midget match and his collegiate sanction.

Mike Martino, president of the National Collegiate Boxing Association, defended the decision. "We pattern ourselves after the NCAA," he explained from NCBA headquarters in Reno, Nevada. "We weren't looking for some type of novelty event to assist [Lentz] in ticket sales. . . . Midget wrestling is more of a spectacle, a three-ring circus. It's entertainment and not in the spirit of what we do."

Lentz disagrees. "I was only trying to promote college boxing in Arizona," he says. "When the boxing commission heard there would be midget wrestling, they freaked out and said they'd pull my sanction. . . . I'd worked so hard to get them; it's not very easy to find a good midget. They're notoriously unreliable. But these guys, Pitbull Patterson and Little Nasty, were great. They were ready to go."

Lentz says nearly 300 people walked away from the ticket booth at his April 13 event when they learned there would be no midgets. "Not only was I really bummed out, but a lot of the fans were upset. Some guys came back after the event; one guy really freaked out. I gave money back. It was ridiculous." Lentz claims that as a result he ended up losing money at the event, nearly $3,000 in lost ticket sales.

As for Rage in the Cage, Roland Sarria, who advertised midgets on the cage fight card well after he knew they wouldn't be appearing, told New Times 10 days before the fight that he had decided to cancel the midget wrestling because some of his fighters felt it would detract from the legitimacy of extreme cage fighting.

Pitbull Patterson, who lives in Tucson, says the last-minute cancellations are just part of the business, especially in this state.

"Arizona is the only state that I've ever had problems wrestling in," he says. "The promoters are threatened with not being able to have fights. As far as I know, they think that we're not as professional or we'd take the show away. . . . We are professional," he affirms, "professional entertainers. Midget wrestling is as much of a freak show as whenever two men get in the ring and beat the shit out of each other."

Patterson says midget wrestling is growing in popularity around the country, and between bookings in Louisiana and Florida, he has his own all-midget event planned for Tucson in July. Patterson also says he is in negotiation with Rage in the Cage promoter Sarria for a Phoenix midget card this summer.

Lentz, too, is eager to bring midgets to Phoenix and dreams of an "all-midget event with dwarves, guaranteed blood, the works," he says. "The money would all go to ASU boxing."

Patterson says he'd like nothing better. "We're not poking fun at being short. We train, we pay our dues, it's a legitimate profession. I love wrestling, it's in my blood. We always say that if Vince McMahon would get his shit together we'd do it full-time."

As for the canceled fights in Phoenix this month, Pitbull agrees with Nasty that the decisions were discriminatory in nature. "After all, this is America, and if people are willing to pay for it, you should be able to do what you want!"

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A piece by Barry Graham about Rage in the Cage that ran in the Phoenix New Times in 2000.

http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/2000-03- ... imination/

Cage Discrimination

By Barry Graham Thursday, Mar 2 2000

"Rage in the Cage"

A couple of years ago, a drunk started a fight with me in a bar in Tempe. The next day, I gleefully told my martial arts teacher about how I'd used a pair of joint locks to subdue the guy. Rather than shake my hand and promote me to a higher belt ranking, my master shook his head.

"You should have enough skill by now to see trouble coming and get out of there before anything happens," he told me.

This is the classic view of the traditional, Eastern-trained martial artist; you don't train to fight, you train not to fight, and you only fight when there's no escape. And you accept that, even if you win the fight, the fact that you had to fight at all is a mark of failure -- you should have gotten out of there.

But, since the martial arts were brought to America, they have gradually morphed into a sport, like boxing. And the students actively want to fight. Roland Sarria, cage-fight impresario, understands this.

"Martial artists spend their lives training for a fight they're never going to have," he says. "So why not compete with each other? I don't think it should be about violence or going out looking for fights, but I don't see anything wrong with fighting each other in a controlled atmosphere."

Sarria is the man behind the controversial "Rage in the Cage" events. A martial artist himself, he studied Brazilian jujitsu with the semi-legendary Gracie brothers, who pioneered their own style, a style they claim to be the most effective form of fighting ever devised. A native of Cuba, Sarria grew up in Los Angeles, then opened his own school, the Brausa Academy of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, in Tempe, three and a half years ago.

"I came out here to visit a friend, and I was amazed. I thought Arizona was just all cactus and stuff. So I decided to live here and try to fulfill my dream of opening a school. I did, and it's doing well.

"I was watching the Ultimate Fighting Championships and thought, 'I'm gonna do one of these shows.' I'm now doing my 12th show. The crowd seems to love it."

Cage fighting differs from the UFC in several ways. The cage fighters are not paid -- they're amateurs, with about a year of training behind them, and they fight just for fun. Also, cage fighting has more rules and is less brutal. No blows to the head with a closed fist, no kicking an opponent who's down, no head butts, no elbows. Each fight lasts three rounds or less, and it all happens in an eight-foot steel cage on top of a boxing ring. About half the fights end with someone tapping out, submitting.

"There's seldom, if ever, an injury," says Sarria. "That's because 90 percent of the fights end up on the ground. On the ground, it's hard to get enough leverage to do any damage. Most damage comes when standing up."

Sarria laughs at those who claim that cage fighting is barbaric. "They don't know what they're talking about. The fighters are well-matched. I watch them train, then I match them. Everybody enjoys it. There's lots of good sportsmanship, they have discipline, they respect each other. That's because they have mental conditioning as well as physical conditioning. Not like boxing, where they have good physical conditioning, but the fighters are disrespectful of each other.

"Boxing's the worst. Getting hit in the head, in your brain, every day, even in training! That's brutal."

I point out that the posters for the shows describe cage fighting as "hard-hitting" and "bone-breaking."

"That's just to get people's attention," he says. "We only use a cage so the fighters don't fall out of the ring. Regular ropes won't work, because the fighters are on the floor most of the time."

Sarria doesn't make much money from the cage fights. "I make my living from the school. I struggle, but I get by. The cage fights are beginning to come through for me. So far, I'm just trying to get public acceptance for it. About 800 people show up for each event, but I give about 80 percent of the tickets away."

He's hopeful, though. The sport now has its own regulating body, the Arizona Mixed Martial Arts Council. Sarria is its president. He also has a Web site, http://www.rageinthecage.com, which offers information and background about Sarria, his events and the fighters.

The next "Rage in the Cage" takes place on Wednesday, March 8, at Rodeo Nights, located at 33rd Avenue and Indian School. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the fights start at 7:30. There will be 12 bouts. Tickets range from $15 to $35; for details call 602-279-3800 (Rodeo Nights) or 480-503-5555 (Dillard's).

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A March 2000 BBC News Online piece...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/668938.stm

Tuesday, 7 March, 2000, 17:19 GMT

Fighting over the scraps

Neither "fish-hooking" nor foul: Total fighting hits the UK

By BBC News Online's Ryan Dilley

It seems no one is pulling any punches when it comes to the world's toughest full contact sport, total fighting.

A visceral mix of boxing and wrestling, with a fair smattering of martial arts thrown in, the sport has drawn fire from medical experts and politicians alike.

Given its no-holds-barred reputation, local authorities have been jittery about sanctioning tournaments.

Milton Keynes is one of the few British towns to have hosted a total fighting bout. Agreeing to an another tournament on 12 March has earned its council some notoriety.

There are plenty who are clearly alarmed by a spectator sport where kicking, punching and choking are not only permitted but actively encouraged.

"Human cockfighting"

In the United States, where "ultimate fighting" has an avid following, no lesser critic than presidential hopeful Senator John McCain has made his feelings about the sport quite clear.

"It is a commentary on the sickness at the heart of American life," said Mr McCain, who has succeed in having several bouts of what he calls "human cockfighting" cancelled.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has, not surprisingly, expressed its concern about any UK-hosted "total" fights.

Former heavyweight champ Sir Henry Cooper, whose own fearsome punch earned the name "'Enry's 'ammer", reckons total fighting in "barbaric".

knockout blow

Flamboyant boxing promoter Frank Warren, the man behind recent Mike Tyson's one round demolition of Britain's Julius Francis, says it's just "a street fight in the ring".

Glyn Leach, editor of Boxing Monthly, sees no contradiction.

"It may seem like the pot calling the kettle black, but if total fighting had a quarter of the medical supervision boxing has I'd be more sympathetic."

Mr Leach likens total fighting to the gaudy spectacle of WWF and WCW wrestling, rather than the sportsmanship and athleticism of boxing.

"Only a failed boxer, who's tired of living, would end up in a total fighting ring. I'm not surprised people nowadays will flock to see it, total fighting is an accident waiting to happen."

Dr Ken Sheard, an expert on boxing from Leicester University, says spectators' desire to see total fighting may be a reaction to the state of modern boxing.

"I wouldn't say modern boxing is safe, some safety regulations are merely cosmetic, but the sport has become increasingly stage managed."

Ring of truth

Dr Sheard says the desire of managers to "nurse" their fighters towards title shots makes for some fairly unequal pairings and extremely short bouts.

While stressing that a well matched boxing contest remains the more exciting event, Dr Sheard says thrill-seekers are attracted by total fighting's comparative lack of regulation.

"It's like a scrap. Though once it becomes more regulated and less visceral it may lose that appeal."

Much of the hyperbole which has gained total fighting fans and enemies in equal measure, stresses the sport's lack of controls.

"They all start saying it's no holds barred, but there are rules," says Dr Sheard, adding that the fights he has seen were "quite tame" and "ended quite quickly without bloodshed".

Ian Freeman, a leading light in British total fighting, is keen to dispel his sport's outlaw image.

Headbutts and blows to the groin, throat, back, knees and groin are all discouraged.

Finger of blame

"Fish-hooking" - tearing at your opponents mouth with your fingers - is also frowned upon. Eye-gouging, biting and locks which even appear "threatening" can see a fighter disqualified.

"The referees are on top of you, they really are," says 16-stone martial arts expert Mr Freeman.

Tired of the constant criticism of total fighting, the County Durham man has thrown down the gauntlet.

"I'm quite willing to sit down with the BMA and with the MPs and work out some rules and regulations."

Mr Freeman is scornful of claims his sport is more dangerous than boxing. Using an painful arm lock to force an opponent into submission involves less risk than pummelling them into unconsciousness.

"I'd say the number of blows to the head delivered during total fighting is only a tenth of that you'd see in a boxing match," says Mr Freeman, who claims to have never been injured while competing.

The boxing fraternity has turned against total fighting out of jealousy, says Mr Freeman.

"Britain's behind the rest of the world when it comes to total fighting, but they know in the five or 10 years it will overtake boxing."

Crowd pleaser

Mr Freeman, who is set to compete in the Milton Keynes contest, reckons the sheer variety of moves in total fighting will win fans over.

"You know what's going to happen in a boxing match. Two guys come out from the corners, hit each other, then go into a clinch. In total fighting it's when you get into a clinch the action starts."

"Come and have a go, 'Enry"

Mr Freeman, who admits to street fighting in the past and has received "unbelievable" offers to return, fears total fighting will be forced underground in the UK.

Such claims are refuted by most commentators, who say only a minority of fans would risk breaking the law to attend a totally unregulated fight.

Nevertheless, Mr Freeman remains keen to take the wind out of his critics' sails. Asking for a calm debate on the subject, he questions so-called expert input by the likes of Sir Henry Cooper.

"Has Henry Cooper ever applied a guillotine neck choke?"

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Another BBC News Online piece from March 2000. This one predates the one posted above by two days.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/666647.stm

Sunday, 5 March, 2000, 10:50 GMT

Doctors demand 'total fighting' ban

Opponents can kick and choke each other

A new violent combat sport in which participants punch, kick and choke their opponents into submission is facing calls for an all-out ban.

Total fighting - a martial art which has arrived recently in the UK - has been dubbed the human equivalent of cockfighting.

Its rules permit any assault except eye-gouging, biting, striking to the groin or throat, or bending back the fingers.

After huge success in Japan and the US, the sport is growing in popularity in Britain.

Some 2,000 fans are expected to witness eight of the UK's 30 professional total fighters in action on 12 March in Milton Keynes, with more events expected to follow.

However, the sport's lack of regulation has prompted demands from medical experts and politicians to impose restrictions.

The British Medical Associations science and ethics advisor Dr Bill O'Neill says lack of regulation exposes participants to serious injury.

"There is no evidence of any independent regulation of this activity," he said. "Any rules that exist appear to have been drawn up either by the promoters or the participants.

'Brain damage'

"There is clearly an intention to inflict injury on one's opponent in total fighting and that includes serious and significant brain damage."

The sport has also been criticised by former British heavyweight boxing champion Sir Henry Cooper and boxing promoter Frank Warren.

Labour MP for Dartford Dr Howard Stoate is to put down an early day motion to mobilise opposition to the sport.

He said: "My main worry is someone is going to get very severely injured by this sport because of its lack of regulation."

Unlike professional boxing, fighters do not have to be registered and knockouts and serious injuries are not tracked.

Currently, any restrictions on the sport are a matter for local authorities.

But Lee Hasdell, the promoter of the Milton Keynes event, insists the sport is adequately controlled.

Mr Hasdell, a three-times British kick boxing champion, insists that doctors and paramedics are always at the ringside.

He says he would welcome the idea of greater regulation but don't want to see the rules changed.

And he warns that restrictions could push the sport underground.

Fighter Ian Freeman also defends the sport.

'Test of skill'

"It is a thrill," he said. "It is an exciting sport and it is a test of skill. I would like to class myself as a gentleman, I have got nothing to prove to anyone else.

"If I ever have a fight in the street it would be too soon. I like to keep it in the ring and that's the way I want it to be - against a guy with the same skills as myself.

"We have a fight, we see who's the better fighter and we shake hands afterwards."

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A 2003 BBC News piece on the supposed success of "no-rules fighting" in Russia. In the photos the fighters are wearing boxing gloves so who knows what the rules of these fights actually were. If it were not for the fact that in the first photo one fighter is hitting another fighter while he is on the ground I would have guessed that what the article was actually about was K-1 or Muay Thai bouts.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/2636091.stm
 

Quote

Tuesday, 7 January, 2003, 17:45 GMT

No-rules fighting wins Russian hearts

Russia's latest sporting sensation

By Steve Rosenberg
BBC News, Moscow

In a smoky Moscow night club, two young fighters wearing sparkly silk dressing gowns walk towards a boxing ring in the middle of the room.

They leap over the ropes. They are ready in their corners. Seconds out. The battle begins.

Fists start flying. Then everything else. Legs, knees, even heads. Anything goes.

But then this isn't the sport of kings.

It is no-rules fighting: the latest sporting sensation to hit Russia from the West.

Each blow, each kick is echoed by a bongo band in the corner - their 'jungle beat' is the perfect accompaniment to this carnal combat.

Suddenly one of the fighters falls to the ground, and is peppered with punches.

The ringside crowd are on their feet cheering. One woman who has been sipping cocktails at the back leaps up and starts screaming, "Hit him! Hit him!"

Mainstream challenge

In most parts of the world, these kind of contests would be shrouded in controversy.

But in Russia, no-rules fighting is challenging for a place in the sporting mainstream.

For the first time it has been given airtime on Russian TV.

Fighters like 'Harry Potter', 'Buddy' and 'Tarzan' are set to become household names. Russian viewers are already revelling in the spectacle.

"Maybe because it's real," promoter Kirill Orlikov told me.

"Because it's like on the street. People like to watch something really happening. I think that's why it attracts people."

Right spirit

'Harry Potter' was, sadly, unavailable, so we were taken to meet another ultimate fighting star - 'Cobra' - in his Moscow gym.

'Cobra' bears an uncanny resemblance to Sylvester Stallone.

He is a kind of Rocky without any of the rules. Cobra is down at the gym every day trying to perfect his craft.

Mind you, it is not easy finding a sparring partner brave enough to train with him.

"This is a sport for real men," Cobra informed me. "It's tough and it's beautiful. But you've got to have the right spirit inside you, that's what it really takes to win."

Cobra invited us to a Moscow stadium to see him in action.

It was the most high-profile no-rules fighting competition in Russia so far. A real chance for Cobra to let that spirit shine.

Biggest attraction

Mind you, the evening got off to an unorthodox start.

The warm up act was a pop singer in sequins with a rendition of Love Me Tender and My Way. Very moving.

Then in marched an army of ice cream ladies brandishing their lollies, ready to keep the audience fed.

As for the fighting, Cobra was centre stage - floating like a butterfly, and pummelling his opponent as if there was no tomorrow. Not surprisingly, he won.

Apart from the spectacle, and the show, perhaps the biggest attraction this sport holds for Russians is this: that in a country raised on regulations, a sport which suddenly lets you break all the rules in the book has to be a winner.

Edited by nfc90210

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An August 2004 BBC News piece on an ultimate fighting event having venue woes.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/here ... 557070.stm

Last Updated: Thursday, 12 August, 2004, 09:47 GMT 10:47 UK

Ultimate fighters find new venue

The organisers of an "ultimate fighting" match have found a new venue in Worcestershire after being banned by a number of local authorities.

UK Storm, based in Birmingham, had wanted to stage a recent no-holds-barred fighting competition at the city's Sanctuary nightclub.

But it was stopped by the council, and the event will now be held at Willow Farm, Lenchwick, near Evesham.

About 1,000 people are expected to watch the fighting on 4 September.

Caged fights

Sarah Brindle, from UK Storm, told BBC News Online that Wychavon District Council had approved the event which would go ahead as planned.

She said a number of international fighters would be taking part.

"We've got world champions doing seminars," she said.

"We've got Thai boxing bouts and then we've got amateur and professional mixed martial arts fights going on throughout the day and evening.

"Some of the fights are in a cage and others are in a ring."

Plans to stage bouts in the past have been stopped by other local authorities on the grounds of taste and public safety.

"It's prejudice," Ms Brindle said. "The statistics show there are few serious injuries at our bouts. They are very popular."

A Wychavon District Council spokeswoman said an indoor sports public entertainments licence had been granted for a fundraising martial arts contest, after consultation with police.

She said representatives from the authority would be at the event to monitor noise and to enforce health and safety rules.

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A BBC News piece from September 2004 about the event described in the article posted above, which had now taken place.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/here ... 627154.stm

Last Updated: Sunday, 5 September, 2004, 10:10 GMT 11:10 UK

'Ultimate fighting' event staged

Organisers of an "ultimate fighting" event that was banned by several councils have hailed the event as a huge success.

More than 1,000 people saw 15 bouts, including Thai boxing and other martial arts, at Willow Farm, Lenchwick, Evesham, Worcestershire, on Saturday.

UK Storm, based in Birmingham, had wanted to stage competition at the city's Sanctuary nightclub.

But the city council would not allow the event to go ahead.

'Never give in'

Plans to stage bouts in the past have been stopped by other local authorities on the grounds of taste and public safety.

But UK Storm said the event had proved a success with both the paying public and local officials.

Spokeswoman Sarah Brindle said: "The council have been down and the police have been down and they are satisfied that it is not bare knuckled fighters in a cage."

She added that all the opposition to the event had only made the organisers more determined to find somewhere to hold it.

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A piece that ran in The Boston Phoenix in August 2000.

http://www.bostonphoenix.com/archive/fe ... HTING.html

The Boston Phoenix
August 3 - 10, 2000


Total kombat

The grassroots world of Ultimate Fighting

by Michelle Chihara

uf1_zpsd460c6ab.gif

Frank Black's mother is standing with the palm of her hand pressed to her chin, her fingers covering her mouth as if to keep herself from crying out. "This is like high school," she says, shaking her head, "like when he played sports in high school."

Inside a hangar-like garage in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, her son is about to compete before a crowd of 700 people, including about 70 of Frank's friends, co-workers, and gym buddies, as well as his mom and his wife, Tracy.

This is not high-school football, or even boxing. Black is the 12th fight on the card in a sport called vale tudo, a Portuguese phrase meaning, unfortunately for Frank's mom, "anything goes."

The lights go down and a door flies open behind the ring. Frank Black appears framed in smoke from a fog machine, his cadre of fans scream Frankie!, and a thudding bass line follows the MC's introduction. Black enters the ring and strips down to his trunks. At the call "Fight!", he squares off against Pierre Gouillet, a lanky fighter with a tribal tattoo across one shoulder.

"Oh God," his mother says. "I gotta talk him into taking up golf."

Thirty-four seconds later the fight is over. After a flurry of blows, Gouillet executes a quick takedown and pins Frank Black in a submission hold with his elbow hyperextended; Black, helpless, taps his free hand on the mat to signal that he submits. He gets off easy: he has taken few blows -- as they say in vale tudo, very little punishment. He has not, like a fighter in tonight's first middleweight match, been straddled by his opponent and had his head whacked into the mat until blood was gushing from his nose, with the ref calling out, "Hit the gong, hit the gong!"

Black walks away shaking his head. His mother exhales and lets her hand fall to her side. "He caught him with a good kick, Tracy," says one of Frank's buddies, comforting Frank's wife.

"Yeah." She almost laughs. "But he's gonna be all fired up now, and he's gonna want to do another one."

Fight fans call it pure. Promoters call it "no holds barred." Critics call it gladiatorial violence. Massachusetts calls it illegal, which is why a Brockton guy like Frank Black is traveling down to Rhode Island to compete.

Vale tudo is basically the local amateur circuit of ultimate fighting, a combat sport you may have seen or heard about in the early '90s. Like its participants, ultimate fighting came on big and then lost big -- in 1993, it was a heavily promoted sport advertised as a bloody spectacle with "no rules," but within a few years, opposition from parents, Congress, and boxing commissions had relegated it to the status of a sideshow on the fringes of pay-per-view cable TV.

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At the grassroots level, however, the sport caught on, even though fighters in the US know that big purses are scarce, even on the professional circuit. Only Japanese fights award huge prizes. For the most part, these guys are in it for the thrill of the fight. They vary in height, weight, and race; most are (unsurprisingly) young, with shaved heads and tattoos.

Promoters these days tend to leave the garish term "ultimate fighting" to the professional league, the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC), instead referring to the sport as "mixed martial arts." (A sport of many names, it's also called "submission fighting," since fights tend to end when one opponent gives up; "extreme fighting"; and "no-holds-barred fighting.") Like Frank Black, who has a background in Muay Thai kickboxing and a Brazilian version of jujitsu, its competitors are usually trained in one or two martial arts -- judo, jujitsu, Greco-Roman wrestling, boxing, kickboxing, karate, tae kwon do. They're matched according to fight experience and weight.

There are also a few rules, although just how many rules depends on the organizers of each tournament. At the vale tudo tournament in Rhode Island, fighters are not allowed to hit each other with a closed fist -- it's open-palm strikes only. Chokeholds are fine. But they cannot gouge each other's eyes, bite, kick a downed opponent, hit the opponent in the throat, or do something called "fish-hooking," which consists of sticking your thumb in somebody's mouth and pulling.

The list is not long, but it is meaningful: moves and blows with a higher-than-average chance of causing paralysis, death, or serious damage are not allowed. For a sport concerned on all levels with legitimacy, seriously damaged or dead competitors are not an asset.

THE MC of the Pawtucket fight is Kipp Kollar. Sales director for a medical scanning company by day, Kollar is the president and founder of the North American Grappling Association and the man responsible for introducing much of New England to submission fighting. He looks a little bit like the Joker. He sports a golden tan and a shining shaved pate, and he smiles a lot -- a sudden, brilliant, pointed grin.

Kollar loves ultimate fighting because it's "exciting" and "realistic," and because "it really works."

"A lot of wrestling and boxing matches go to the time limit, and then how do you pick a winner?" he asks. Ultimate fighting, in contrast, is usually crystal clear.

Clear, and sometimes brutal. For fight fans, part of the excitement is undeniably rooted in blood lust. In Pawtucket, the crowd cheers loudest for the big, heavy blows, and one man cheers a prolonged leg bar by shouting, "The pain! The pain!"

An official of the UFC calls ultimate fighting "the perfect blend of sport and spectacle," and points out: "A lot of fans watch auto racing and boxing and hockey to see blood. Whether it's our instinct or blood lust, who knows? But it's true for all sports."

For the fighters themselves, however, the appeal is different. It's about how their discipline measures up.

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LAST LEGS: Luciano DeOlivera, 22, a Brazilian immigrant and talented grappler, lost this fight out of pure exhaustion.

The Ultimate Fighting Championships were born in 1993, when Rorion Gracie walked into the offices of the Semaphore Entertainment Group in New York City with a videotape of Gracie victories in Brazil. The Gracies are Brazilian fighting superstars who had taken an established Japanese grappling discipline -- jujitsu -- and put their own spin on it, increasing the emphasis on joint manipulations and submission holds. The Gracies had issued open-door, winner-take-all challenges in Brazil, daring any fighter to beat them in open fights with no rules. Almost no one could.

No one at Semaphore had ever heard of the Gracies, but Rorion's videotape looked like the pay-per-view hit they needed. Rorion's younger brother, Royce, helped prove them right.

The first Ultimate Fighting Championships pitted sumo wrestling against French Savate kickboxing, Thai kickboxing against karate, and boxing against Royce Gracie. For that fight and for four tournaments to come, Royce Gracie blew just about everyone else out of the water. He would seem lost under a hail of blows, until he would reverse the fight all at once by pinning the other guy -- maybe a guy 60 to 90 pounds heavier than he was -- in a chokehold with his legs.

Gracie jujitsu proved itself almost as unbeatable in America as it had been in Brazil. Another of the brothers, Rickson, showed up in the US in 1993 with one of the typical Gracie challenges: $100,000 to anyone who beat him.

Kipp Kollar, who at the time had spent a decade teaching the graceful kicking arts of tae kwon do, remembers the shock. "We went there thinking were going to do well against this guy," Kollar says of himself and his martial-arts buddies. "And he smashed everybody."

One glimpse of Gracie was enough to set a generation of martial-arts buffs down a whole new path. The "strikers" -- the boxers and the acrobatic high-kickers -- can do damage. Kickboxing can beat sumo. But the real badasses, the people who could win in an ultimate-fighting ring, finish their fights on the ground.

"A karate guy throws one kick or punch," says Kollar, "and immediately gets taken down. The grappler throws some sort of submission moves, and -- think about a street situation, in a bar, a fight always ends up going to the ground. It's much more practical in a real-life self-
defense situation."

The consensus among mixed martial artists is that the best fighters are "well-rounded" fighters who know both a striking and a grappling art.

Showing them both off, though, can be difficult. In most states mixed martial arts is more or less illegal. Combat sports need licenses from athletic or boxing commissions. Most commissions banned true no-holds-barred fighting in the mid '90s, especially after Senator John McCain went after the sport for what he deemed its sick brutality. The UFC's early promotional campaigns, trumpeting the bloody-brute "two men enter, one man leaves" side of the fights, turned the sport into a political scapegoat for violence in society.

Organizers are just now starting to recover. They're working hard with the commissions in the hopes of getting sanctioning bodies across the country to license them. They've toned down the hype, instated new rules, and beefed up safety precautions. At least one huge market, California, is about to legalize the UFC.

But as this kind of fighting becomes legitimized as mixed martial arts -- a sport with governing bodies, commissions, and rules -- those drawn to its darker side are heading deeper underground. There are certain people, for instance, who do not consider the vale tudo in Rhode Island to be "true" no-holds-barred fighting.

"You'll hear guys talk, like on the Internet boards, about how much it's split into two groups," says Kevin MacDonald, a 25-year-old Watertown native who works as a funeral director in Boston. On one side are mixed martial artists in favor of legitimacy. On the other side, "You've got guys that are more like myself, in the sense of being in it for the pure form -- the `anything goes' sense."

An experienced fighter, MacDonald is a compact Irish guy with a crew cut and a puckish sense of humor. Ask him why he fights, and he'll say, "Because it's fun," with a devilish raise of his eyebrows. Then he'll laugh.

He's leery of promoters and money men and the other trappings of professional sports. "A lot of guys are saying we should just take the elbow out, work with the commissions," he says. "All that's going to happen is it'll get like boxing. It'll get watered down. You'll have complete professional fighters, where this is all they do. The promoters start making more money. Then you get your Don King, with no connection to the sport, throwing a fight, demanding all this money."

MacDonald isn't sure the sport he loves is destined for legitimacy: "The public is never going to accept things where there's a lot of blood."

With a background in Muay Thai kickboxing, jujitsu, and what he calls "freestyle grappling," MacDonald has a professional record of five wins, three losses, and one tie. He says he'll fight anywhere, anytime, any rules. He's also run with the bulls in Pamplona, twice. "This time I touched one of them on the ass," he says, laughing. "I'll do anything with adrenaline."

Including fight underground. The UFC may have trouble getting fully licensed, but the underground "no eye-gouging, no biting, end of rules" fights are outright illegal. MacDonald remembers being sent downstairs at an underground fight in Los Angeles because he and his opponent were "quite bloody" and the promoter needed to "make things look respectable" for the police, who had just arrived.

In another underground fight, in Houston, MacDonald's training partner Eve Edwards caught an opponent in a head clench. "[Edwards] was throwing knees into the kid's face," he recalls. "They stopped and checked to see if he was okay. He was bleeding a little, but they let him go back. And my buddy gets him in another clench, he's bombing knees. And then the kid just opened his mouth. It looked like he had taken a quart of blood in his mouth. And then three things fell out. I stared at 'em.

"Turns out he had split the kid's upper palate in half, and three of his teeth, it wasn't just the teeth that we were seeing. It was the entire root, everything. The promoter picked 'em up and put 'em in an empty cup and said, `Here, kid.' "

None of this deters MacDonald. "There are always going to be flukes," he says. "Look at how many guys will never walk again because of football. And this is one of the most intense exercises of the mind. `Where am I? Where is he? If I try this, will he try this?' "

For MacDonald, the fewer the rules, the truer the test. "I've done boxing, kickboxing, judo. Some guy'll win on something stupid, some point or whatever, and then he's jumping around like he's a badass. With this, you know when you won, you know when you lost. It's exciting."

Ultimate Fighters take on challenges the way other people climb Mount Everest: for the searing purity of the challenge; as a way to reach the irreducible conflict of man and obstacle. People watch ultimate fighting the way people watch movies about Everest expeditions. Half the motivation is the possibility of redemption, reversal, human victory against all odds. Half is the possibility of . . . cannibalism.

Ultimate fighters, in this light, are a fringe group who take society's logic -- that it's manly and good to be able to defend yourself in a fight -- to its logical extreme. And for the most part, society doesn't want to recognize the violence inherent in being "manly." Extreme sports are one thing. But society frowns upon true extremists.

"Anything truly exciting in this society is suppressed," MacDonald says.

Ultimate fighters seem not to be people whom society has handed a golden ticket. They're not like the protagonists in the movie Fight Club -- white-collar yuppies who are fed up with the emptiness of an Ikea-as-identity culture. They seem, primarily, to be people searching for something -- validation, sense of self -- who have found it only in the cage.

Luciano DeOlivera, 22, is a fighter who trains with Joao Amaral in Everett. Amaral fought, and won, his first American professional fight at the World Extreme Fighting tournament in June in Atlanta (his academy is called New England Brazilian Jiu Jitsu). DeOlivera is a Brazilian immigrant who works, sometimes, refilling vending machines. A talented jujitsu grappler, he lost his vale tudo match at the Pawtucket tournament out of pure exhaustion: he spent everything he had in the first few minutes of the match, a common mistake for first-time fighters.

DeOlivera's heel is swollen and distended, with a dark spot at the center. He's limping. But Amaral tells me, "Luciano will fight again. He'll be a good fighter." They're hoping he'll compete in September's tournament.

This comes as a surprise to DeOlivera's girlfriend, who's sitting next to him in the studio. Watching Luciano fight in Pawtucket, she says, was "awful."

"I was crying," she says. "I couldn't stay in my chair."

I tell DeOlivera she doesn't want him to fight.

"I know," he says. "But I have to do it for her. She doesn't respect me."

His girlfriend rolls her eyes. He laughs and squeezes her shoulders. "I have to prove myself," he says softly.

"Can't you prove yourself here?" she says, jutting her chin at the jujitsu students rolling around on the mats. "You can prove yourself here."

Luciano touches her hair, tenderly, and doesn't answer.

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FIGHT CLUB: Frank Black lost his vale tudo match in 34 seconds, but he didn't take the beating handed to some competitors (center). For Kevin MacDonald (bottom), these legal tournaments are a little tame. "The underground fights are never going to go away," he says.

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A 2003 piece from the The Portland Phoenix on Tim Slyvia.

http://www.portlandphoenix.com/archive/ ... mance.html

The Portland Phoenix
February 13 - 20, 2003


A real Maine-iac

Ellsworths Tim Sylvia has a shot at the Ultimate Fighting Championship

By Tanya Whiton

Tim Sylvia fights UFC Heavyweight Champion Ricco Rodriguez, Feb. 28, in Atlantic City. Call your local cable provider for pay-per-view access.

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FIGHT CLUB: Sylvia's the one delivering the blow

Ellsworth native Tim Sylvia used to be known as that Sylvia kid who rode around on his three wheeler and raked blueberries in the summer. Hed been a mediocre wrestler in high school, a karate enthusiast, and, then, post-high school, got into grappling where he discovered the joy of knocking people out. In an amateur Mixed Martial Arts fight (no fists), Sylvia clobbered his opponent hard enough with an open hand to lay the guy out on the mat. But it wasnt until Sylvia left his home state for Davenport, Iowa, to train with Ultimate Fighting Championship pioneer Pat Miletich, that he began to really think of himself as somebody other than that Sylvia kid.

After two years with Miletich whose particular brand of ass kicking, Miletich Fighting Systems, is now a UFC standard Sylvia is different. Hes known as the Maine-iac, and he took the title at last years Superbrawl, winning four fights in two days, all by a KO or TKO, which led to a three-fight contract with the UFC.

Originally styled as a modern-day gladiator bout without the big cats, the UFC is still essentially a no-holds-barred contest, but with more emphasis on technique and form, and a little less bone-snapping and tendon-tearing. In the UFC ring a raised octagonal mat enclosed with chain-link fencing fighters wear nothing but close-fitting shorts and minimal hand protection. Theyve got to be in shape.

Sylvias a contender. The six-foot-eight-inch fighter, who started his training at a slack 337 pounds, is now a lean, mean 255, and, on February 28, in Atlantic City, hes going up against reigning Heavyweight UFC Champion Ricco Rodriguez.

Now, when Sylvia goes home for a visit, people want to buy a T-shirt with his recently acquired fight name on it. I used to be known as the Grizzly Bear, but the UFC thought itd be good for me to represent Maine. At first I thought it was kind of tacky to change my name mid-career, but now Im [glad] I did I dont think anybody else in the sport is from Maine.

While there are other mixed martial arts fighters from Vacationland battling up through the ranks many of whom train with Master Choi at Chois Institute of Martial Arts in Portland Sylvia is the first Mainer to get a shot at the UFC title, and a high-profile one at that: Ultimate Fighting Championship #41, Onslaught, will be broadcast on pay-per-view TV, and approximately 10,000 spectators will attend the event. Not only will Rodriguez be defending his title, but scrappy lightweight contenders Caol Uno and BJ Penn will also be in the ring. And to the irritation of many of the serious athletes former UFC legend Tank Abbott will be returning from a stint in World Championship Wrestling to fight jiu-jitsu specialist Frank Mir.

Rodriguez has compared his bout with the green, 26-year-old Sylvia to Apollo Creed giving young Rocky Balboa a title shot in the first Rocky flick. Except, says Rodriguez, there wont be any split decision. Im gonna take him out. In reality, though the six-foot-three, 240-lb Rodriguez is as yet undefeated, hes actually a year younger than Sylvia, and unlike The Maine-iac, hes sustained some injuries.

Not to mention the fact that Sylvia is hungry. If he wins the fight with Rodriguez, hell have tremendous bargaining power when it comes time to renew his contract or look elsewhere: No-holds-barred fighting is huge (and very, very lucrative) in Japan.

But Sylvia currently exists solely to kick butt. He says hes happy to have the shot, though its sooner than he expected. Im going to test out his [Rodriguez] chin, he says, and see what hes got. In Miletichs UFC boot camp, Sylvia and his peers lift weights, spar, grapple, and wrestle for five-to-six hours a day, training like Olympic hopefuls. And though Davenport, Iowa, is far from The Maine-iacs childhood stomping grounds, Sylvia says he feels right at home: He lives in a house with three other fellas who also train with Miletich. While he talked with the Phoenix, the sounds of pots and pans clanking could be heard in the background somebody was making lunch for the household.

Out here its a big family, he says. We hang out, we cook food for each other.

After a day of beating each other up?

Yeah, Sylvia laughs. When I first came out here, I got beat up every day for a year straight. He adds, A lot of the guys come from broken down homes and rough childhoods, implying that Miletichs school has created a different kind of home, in which the dysfunctional elements of the past have been transformed into tools for achieving in the ring. Miletich acts as both coach and adversary, alternately working his fighters over and building them up.

When asked if he came from a similar environment, Sylvia responds matter-of-factly: Yeah, I had a rough childhood. He hedges a bit when asked if thats influenced his choice of vocation: I think that has something to do with it, yeah.

Sylvia, like other fighters who aspire to UFC greatness, is quick to defend his exceptionally violent sport. All the brutishness and barbaricness is gone, he says. And its safer than boxing you take less blows to the head. Its the best way to test your abilities [as an athlete]. Its everything youre not one-dimensional.

Its true, that though the UFC used to have a fairly bloody reputation, the sport is much more highly regulated now than in past years: In order to keep cable audiences, they had to clean things up. Now theres no head butting, eye gouging, biting, hair pulling, fish hooking, throat chops, kidney kicks, or spitting. While some fighters (and fans) resent the imposition of regulations, Sylvia says I think its great, great for me, great for the sport.

Sylvia, like most MMA-trained contenders, uses a combination of boxing, kickboxing, jiu-jitsu, and wrestling, but his specialty, he says, is punching. At six-foot-eight, hes got some reach. Rodriguez, he says, is not very good at standup fighting. He doesnt like to get punched. I like it some guys will grin and smile and throw back a bigger hit. [Rodriguez] is a ground specialist, a grappler.

But Rodriguez is known for being able to weather a serious pounding in the opening rounds, coming back for a take down when his opponent wearies or loses focus.

And in the UFC, after initial sparring, most fights go down to the mat, where being able to submit your opponent via holds is crucial. So what happens if Rodriguez gets Sylvia on the mat? Rodriguez is at the top of his form, an established talent, with rigorous training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Not to mention that the fight will be taking place close to his home turf in New Jersey hell most likely have the crowd on his side.

Sylvia is relatively unphased. Im really good on the ground, he says. Were evenly matched. In five five-minute rounds, the former neer-do-well Ellsworth townie will put his hard-won skills to the test. What does he think when the adrenalin starts pumping?

Ive just got to remember to keep my chin down, he says. Once the gates close, its just another day at the office.

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A piece that ran in The Portland Phoenix in the summer of 2001. The Mike Brown the reporter talks to is the Mike Brown of UFC/WEC fame.

http://www.portlandphoenix.com/archive/ ... pling.html

The Portland Phoenix
August 16 - 23, 2001


Martial madness

Portland fighter Mike Brown grapples with Mass Destruction III

By Tanya Whiton


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MIKE BROWN: prior to winning his match with a rear naked choke hold.

Its Friday, August 3, the eve of Mass Destruction III.

Sounds like a Jerry Bruckheimer production, no? Something involving explosions, skyscrapers falling, muscular Hollywood types exceeding the bounds of human capacity. And it all takes place in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Wait a second. Springfield?

Whats this, a monster truck rally?

Nope.

Though it certainly contains muscular Hollywood types exceeding the bounds of human capacity, Mass Destruction III is actually a mixed martial arts tourney; an event and a sport that combines elements of numerous Eastern forms, classic Olympian-styled wrestling, and the bloodlust of the Coliseum. It is a sport in which buff men wearing tight shorts wrestle, kick, and slap each other to the ground. Its fascinating to watch (if a bit unnerving). And Portlander Mike Brown gets a rush out of participating.

Im sitting in Coffee By Design on Congress Street, talking with Brown, a Portland fighter who trains at Chois Institute of Martial Arts and Science hes slated to battle in tomorrow nights show. He explains that mixed martial arts is a politically correct term, currently in use because organizers are trying to get the sport sanctioned.

Banned until recently from cable TV and frowned upon by sports regulators, no-holds-barred events like Mass Destruction III nevertheless have a big draw. Perhaps because of a certain cinematic quality?

The bare-knuckles intensity and renegade atmosphere of the Vale Tudo a Brazilian fighting form meaning anything goes, predecessor to events like Mass Destruction is rarely found in mainstream sports. In the Mass Destruction version of Vale Tudo, the thrill of vicarious violence most often found today in the cineplex is brought to the sweaty local community center, and brought several steps closer to the viewer. So close, in fact, that one observer got hit with someones spit-covered mouth guard.

No Holds Barred does get the biggest crowd, Brown says. But going for the mainstream means cleaning up the show. Literally.

Ironically, less actual bloodshed equals more corporate backing. Mass Destruction III is sponsored by Budweiser, and though the fighters only have to wear a cup and mouth guard, there are more rules in place than ever before. Brown seems a bit disappointed when he tells me the no-nos: no biting, no fish hooking (reaching into your opponents mouth and tearing at their cheeks), no closed fists, no eye gouging, and no head butting. You take away the head butt because its a bloody mess, he says.

Brown, a twenty-five-year-old ball of muscle, clean cut, close shaven and low to the ground, trains for more than 20 hours a week; wrestling, boxing, grappling, lifting and running his way to being a contender.

Schooled as a biologist in the civilian program at Norwich University in Vermont, he works as a merchandiser for National Distributors because he can get time off to fight.

Its my life, he says. I dont want to get into biology if I wont have time to train.

A high school wrestler, Brown was spurred back into the ring after seeing 1993s first-ever Ultimate Fighting Championship: the big, bad-ass granddaddy of events like Mass Destruction III, and Browns ultimate goal as a contestant.

[The UFC] brought martial artists from all different directions: sumo wrestlers, boxers, karate all thrown into this cage, with a six-foot chain link fence. I thought that was the greatest thing in the world. It seemed so pure. Fighting has been around since the beginning of time.

The upshot of the UFC mixed bouts was the discovery that many of the martial arts were pretty one dimensional: you could kick and karate chop all you wanted, but if you got into a fracas with a jujitsu fighter or grappler, theyd take you down to the ground, and all your defenses would disappear. Its tough when youre on bottom to hit back, says Brown.

What has emerged in the last eight years is a hybrid fighting form that begins in standard boxing style: two guys standing in separate corners with their dukes up. But theyre not on their feet for long. In a fight scheduled for seven minutes with no rounds, its usually only a matter of moments before the opponents are locked in an oddly intimate embrace on the mat, their bodies intertwined, each fighter struggling for domination. In this game, domination means getting your adversary to submit, tap out, give in before a bone snaps or a tendon pulls. Any number of holds, chokes, and joint locks can accomplish this goal.

Sounds kind of homoerotic, I say. Barely dressed guys rolling around on the floor?

Im used to that, Brown replies, dismissing the question. I was a wrestler in high school, I got that all that time. This is painful, it hurts. You get twisted and torqued.

Hmm. Pretty violent. I say.

Brown disagrees.

I dont think of it as violent at all. Its all skill these are great athletes. Its no more violent than football, and its closer and more controlled. Its not as violent as boxing you can hit a lot harder on your feet than on the ground. And its not a bunch of weird rules made up about a ball.

Point taken.



The evenings organizer is Kipp Kollar, president of the United States Mixed Martial Arts Association. Hes a six-foot something, cue ball-bald Adonis who looks like a Bond-flick villain and sounds like a math teacher. Sweat shining on his skull, Kollar introduces the third Mass Destruction beat-up fest in a surprisingly collegiate manner.

All these fighters have worked really hard, he says into the microphone. I know that most of you out there are family and friends. So its really important to support everybody, and not boo. Dont boo anybody.

Kollar then hands the microphone over to the emcee, an aspiring local actor sporting gelled hair and fancy pants. (It is later revealed that the emcee debuted in one of the crowd scenes in The Thomas Crowne Affair, starring Pierce Brosnan).

The air in the Southside Community Center is palpable, drippingly humid. Hundreds of fans sit demurely in folding chairs around the ring, most of them young men, most of them in very, very good shape. Tight, fight club t-shirts abound, with slogans like Tap Out and Bad to the Bone. There is a particularly large contingent of beefy Latino guys from Dragons Lair Martial Arts Studio. Pigeon feathers drift through the mesh hung from the high, metal-vaulted ceiling, and fans chew greasy slabs of pizza and drink plastic cups of Bud.

My friend Kris Kramer, another Portlander who trains at Chois, gives me the low down on the sweet-faced guy sitting behind us: Jeremy Horn, a UFC superstar, veteran of over seventy fights, and the grand finale contender of tonights show. Horn flips placidly through a paper back novel.

The first three rounds are dizzying, difficult to follow, with a perplexing number of interruptions from the referee. Kramer explains that though the fight really takes place on the ground, the crowd gets impatient when they cant see any action.

Brown had said during our interview that mixed martial arts is less about action and more about science and physics, about how to get control of your opponents body. After witnessing a few bouts, I can see what he means. For a sport with such a bloody reputation, its surprisingly subtle, surprisingly psychological more complex and physically intricate than boxing or other popular modes of combat. And, unlike other full-contact sports, the fighters dont wear headgear, gloves, or even shoes, for the most part. They are exposed, revealed, their bodies vivid in contest. Soberingly, though, the referee wears rubber gloves. Somebody is going to bleed.

Browns is the fourth match on the card, and hes up against Vinny Brightman, a handsome Italian kid from Brooklyn. Brightman is unprepared for Browns wrestling techinique, and submits quickly, tapping out at about two minutes, caught in a rear naked choke hold.

Next up is Kipp Kollar himself, in the first superfight of the evening, against Nick Crooks. Shirt off, Kollar looks even more the part of the Aryan malefactor an appearance that is only somewhat undermined by the emcees announcement that it is his birthday. As he climbs into the ring, his expression is an odd combination of jovial host and home-team hero. Its clear that putting on the show gives him pleasure, but his real passion is kicking ass.

And he does. Within seconds of the refs sign to begin fighting, Kollar has Crooks spread-eagled under the ropes, one hand outstretched and tapping on the mat.

As the night wears on, and the bouts get more heated, the Southside Community Center feels increasingly like a film set. The Heavyweight Title Fight between George Rivera and Elias Rivera (unrelated) takes on overtones of West Side Story, with each fighters posse of muscle-bound friends arrayed on opposite sides of the ring. George Rivera visibly goads his opponent, shaking his head disdainfully at Elias feints, kicking him repeatedly in the calf for a take down. When the bout is over, though, the two men hug like brothers and confer over their differing strategies a strange, gentlemanly end to a vicious battle.

Overall, there is a code of sportsmanship implicitly followed by Mass Destruction participants that belies both the name and the supposed nature of the show.

Brown says he doesnt think of himself as a confrontational person; I dont ever get in fights or anything on the street, he says. Ive been in some submission events where I had the opportunity to hurt somebody bad, and I didnt.

As for his next move, Brown is preparing for a possible match in the September 15 Hook and Shoot in Indiana, a step up from Mass Destruction on the ladder to the UFC. He feels like his career is taking hold, at a point when his chosen sport is just beginning to verge into a more widely accepted and publicized format. (The UFC even has a main event in Vegas this year.)

Will Brown miss the scrappy anonymity of the early days of Ultimate Fighting? The free-for-all? The bloodshed?

Not really. When I ask him who his heroes are, he mentions wrestler Mark Coleman. Hes a great wrestler, Brown says, but nobody would know who he was. The changes [from unregulated melee to a more mainstream sport] mean youll be able to get familiar with the fighters theyll be like characters.

Like Jeremy Horn unknown by the standards of say, boxing, whose casual lounging against the ropes at the start of his match betrayed the kind of confidence and physical prowess of a great athlete paging calmly through a book. Boy, would Jerry Bruckheimer hate that.

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A piece on James Irvine that appeared in the September 9, 2004 issue of the Sacramento News and Review. This is a very well written piece - I had no idea who Jason Probst was prior to reading this piece but I found him to be a very engaging writer.

http://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/ca ... ?oid=31124

Caged heat

Mixed martial artist James Irvin eyes the big-time

By Jason Probst

This article was published on 09.09.04.

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Citrus Heights heavyweight James Irvin takes his 6-0 record to Reno for the September 23 Sportfight.
PHOTO BY DEVIN BRUCE


In another world he left behind two years ago, Citrus Heights native James Irvin would be working construction, making $40 an hour, safely distanced from the trials of being a mixed-martial-arts fighter. But instead, on a Thursday afternoon in September, he was at Niavaronis Kickboxing Academy in Roseville, trading kicks with buddy Billy Miles and pursuing a dream that cannot be stemmed by the dictates of reason.

With his 6-0 record, Irvin is that rarest of commodities in the burgeoning subculture of mixed martial arts (MMA): an undefeated heavyweight.

To be a mixed martial artist, you have to live it. Irvin spends upwards of $600 a month on vitamins and four different gym memberships to keep himself in shape. Its one thing to know kickboxing or how to joint-lock a man into submission. Its wholly another thing to do both in a cage against a highly motivated opponent, with the adrenaline dump kicking in as the gate is locked and with all eyes on you, hoping for your deliverance or destruction.

He and Miles, a 2-0 middleweight, are longtime buddies who grew up together in Loomis. Both are 26, disarmingly polite and generously tatted. If anybody can tell you why they do this, Miles said, theyre crazy. Miles, like Irvin, doesnt swap punches and kicks for much money. Both made $400 in their pro debuts, half of that contingent on winning, which is the standard fare in the sport. Miles is currently building a deli in Auburn, and in another iteration of fate, he would be an upper-middle-class kid with good prospects in front of him. But, like Irvin, he likes competing and cant resist the sport that had him puking after his first match, unable to control his heartbeat despite winning.

On September 23, Irvin will face Roy Big Country Nelson in Sportfight, a Reno event promoted by Randy Couture, the Ultimate Fighting light heavyweight champion. But for Irvin and manager Mike Roberts, its just the next step toward an ultimate destination: the big money and storied dream of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

In the world of MMA, you keep your friends close, as a ready body to box, grapple and bleed with. Miles and Irvin have known each other since they were teenagers. They turned pro last year at the Gladiator Challenge in Colusa, a low-level feeder show defined by high hopes, hard-edged types and meager pay. Both were part of the now-defunct No Limits Underground squad, which came to an impromptu end when the teams gyma barn in Sheridanclosed without explanation from the owner. Since the loss of the teams training space last month, the two have been operating on a whim, finding whatever places they can to get in the necessary hard-wiring required for a sport that brooks little room for error. They are ronin, freelance fighters looking for whatever place they can find to hone their skills while their opponents train full time, undistracted by day jobs and other pedestrian concerns.

Irvin continues to live with his parents and would have had a pretty easy life cut out for him were it not for the fighting.

I was working in my dads construction business, building schools, he said. I gave up my company truck and everything to do this. I want to get to where I can make a living fighting.

Irvin has an upside that extends beyond the bluster and self-confidence necessary for fighting. He has trained with the highest caste of the sport, from Couture to Quinton Jackson and former champion Tito Ortiz. He proudly tells of a workout with Couture where he took down the venerable champ with a double-leg shoot, something unprecedented in the four fights since Couture decided to drop 20 pounds and dominate the best light heavyweights in the world.

I have it on videotape, said Irvin. Randy took me down a lot, too, but he was impressed, because nobody else was able to take him down.

Equipped with four-ounce gloves that do little more than protect the throwers hands, Irvin is a fearsome striker, a destructive puncher with potent quickness. This is what differentiates him from the mulleted rubes that typically are associated with MMAthe sports origins a decade ago are what the general public remembers, but the skill levels have been ratcheted up light years since then.

This is also the reason that he finds it difficult to get fights with local talenthe has a reputation for hurting people.

His hand speed is unreal, said Miles. Its hard me for me to keep up with him.

In addition to knocking out all six of his opponents in the first round, Irvin has wrestled with the best in the MMA world and has acquitted himself well, according to his manager, Roberts.

He rolled with Ricco Rodriguez, and Ricco didnt tap him, Roberts said, commenting on a training session earlier this year with the former UFC heavyweight champion. James is an extremely strong guy, and he knows how to escape submissions.

Even in the parasitic world of boxing, a potential commodity like Irvin would be pampered, treated like a hothouse flower, out of respect for the enormous upside he represents. But in MMA, hes just another guy looking for his next break. In addition to Miles support, he has Steve Renauda fellow fighteras his kickboxing coach, and interest from the UFCs top brass as the impetus to keep going.

We are always looking for new talent, especially in the heavyweight division, said Joe Silva, UFC matchmaker. James looks like he has potential. It will be interesting to watch him as he steps up in competition.

Irvin doesnt worry about the harder competition he will have to face to get to the big show, whether its the UFC, where a heavyweight can make $100,000 or more an appearance, or in Japan, where fights pack 70,000 seats and purses are even bigger.

These guys arent the athletes I am, said Irvin, who played football at Azusa Pacific University before becoming a fighter.

I get more nervous with each fight, but mentally Im better each time, he said. Im pissing constantly and nervous, and then about a half hour before the fight, I get so mad at how nervous I am.

He takes that with him into the match, turning pre-bout angst into channeled aggression. "There are two different types of fighters: guys wholl fight anybody anytime, and guys who build up their records fighting guys who cant fight," he said. Irvin falls squarely into the former camp. "I gave up everything to do this, and I want to make a living at it."

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An October 2003 O.C. Weekly article on Rampage...

http://www.ocweekly.com/2003-10-30/feat ... e-to-papa/

Come to Papa

Rampage Jackson: Savage brawler, loving father

By ANGIE DRISKELL Thursday, Oct 23 2003

Quinton "Rampage" Jackson mixed martial-arts maestro, No. 1 middleweight Pride Fighting contender, Costa Mesa residentarrives in a fittingly beefy, black Ford Expedition with large, white letters spelling out Memphis across the windshield. He jumps from the driver's seat, followed by a small entourage: his three-year-old son, D'Angelo, and a high school buddy, fighter Dave Roberts.

At six feet tall and 205 pounds of what looks like pure muscle, Rampage, in a bright-red Unbreakable T-shirt that strains over the loaded canons that are his armsarms that have pummeled and pounded his opponentsgently lowers his boy to the ground and helps him fold down two fingers to show his age without flipping you off.

This docile father is the same titan who brawled it out in Japan Aug. 10 in Pride Fighting Championship's "Total Elimination" grand prix-style tournament. His performance there allowed him to move on to the November tournament title fight with a $200,000 prize and bigwig status.

Pride Fighting, Ultimate Fighting, King of the Cage, mixed martial artsit's all basically the same: two men expertly trained to beat and be beaten upon enter a cage, intent on knocking out or overpowering their opponents for a substantial amount of money and respect.

Japan is absolutely gaga for the stuff, and Rampage is gaga for Japan. Early last month, he shocked all of Tokyo when he lifted their notorious Kazushi Sakuraba into the air cartoon-stylewith one armcarried him to the edge of the ring and nearly disposed of him over the side, not once but twice.

He began his training on the streets of Memphis. "Growing up in Memphis was rough, man," he says. "On the street all night, gone for two or three days at a time. I never had a childhood, so that's why now, when I fight, I act the way I do. 'Cause now, I want a childhood."

He affectionately pats D'Angelo on the head as he recalls his own violent adolescence. "My family and I didn't get along," he says. "My cousins named me Rampage when I was little because if things didn't go my way, I would get so pissed that I would hyperventilate, go on a rampage, and destroy everything around me. They thought it was amusing, so they would continually torment me."

When Rampage was 12, he and a cousin got caught in an unfamiliar neighborhood where they were accosted by drug dealers. Rampage fought off the two men alone. "I was holding my own until one of the guys pulled a gun," he remembers. "I hit him in the mouth, he dropped the gun, and I tried to get my cousin to grab it. But he was crying like a baby and wouldn't pick it up. Luckily, some people came and broke it up."

We're sitting in a restaurant as he relates all this. A guy a few inches taller and wider than Rampage cautiously approaches the table to ask if it would be okay to get a picture with him. Rampage immediately stands to shake the guy's hand. "Sure, man," he says. "You want me to grab the chain?"

The brawler rushes to his car and grabs his trademark steel chain-link necklace. He models next to the fan in fighting position.

He says there are things he can't stomach because of his impoverished youth, things like "ghetto apples"white onionsand sugar sandwiches. "From those days," he says, "there are things that I still don't eat."

The thing is those days are just four years ago. These days, he trains in Tustin and fights in Japan. But he's no sushi connoisseur. "I eat American food [in Japan]. All of the other guys try and eat that damn Japanese shit. My opinion is that they eliminate taste from it," he says. "I just eat at the Wendy's and the McDonald's."

"McDonald's!" D'Angelo shouts.

"Yeah!" Rampage says lovingly. "McDonald's, huh?"

Rampage took his talent for fighting into high school wrestling. After that, he says, "I was just looking to get back into athletics." Roberts introduced him to the world of mixed martial arts. "I'm like, man, I could fight and get paid and not go to jail? It's like killing two birds with one stone!"

Just two months into his jiujitsu training, Rampage won his first mixed martial-arts fight at the International Sport Combat Federation competition in Memphis. He moved to Orange County to train first with Brazilian jiujitsu expert Fabiano Iha and then with Collin Oyama. He's hopelessly devoted to Oyama, saying that if Oyama retired, he would, too.

"Team O-yem-ah. It means Big Mountain," he says.

"Yeah! Big Mountain!" echoes D'Angelo.

His regimen consists of rising at 9 a.m. to attend jiujitsu and wrestling training in Newport Beach with Brazilian black belts. At 1 p.m., he returns home for rest. At 7 p.m., he heads over to Punchout Gym in Tustin, where he runs a timed two miles and either spars, hits the bag or "does some drills."

"I do that five days a week. And then Saturday is the hardest training of all," he says. "I've got to be at Tustin High at 10:30 a.m., so there's no clubbin' Friday night. Coach will either make us run for time, do sprints, jump the bleachers or carry people on our backs. It's always something hard."

Rampage insists he's lazy. "I don't like to train. But it's my job. Most people train tough eight weeks before a fight. I pretty much train all year round. . . . I think that's why I'm so lazy."

He loves Japan. "There are some freaks over there, a whole country full of freaks," he says, a bit wide-eyed. "Trust me. I know. 'Cause I love them Asian women. When I go there, I am like a kid in a candy store, and they love chocolate men over there! One time, there were these two old ladiesthey had to be 60who wanted to take a picture with me. They were, like, 'Jackson, Jackson.' And then one of 'em grabbed my ass!" he says, shocked. "They also put stuff in the newspapers over there that would never be in the papers in the States. Like, they'll have a picture of a fighter winning his match and another right next it of some guy getting a blowjobthey kind of black it out, but you can still tell."

He stops.

"I've got to watch my language in front of my boy," he says, looking down at D'Angelo. "He's a parrot right now."

For more on Rampage Jackson, visit his website: www.RampageJackson.com.

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A piece by syndicated columnist, and Pulitzer Prize-winner, George Will that appeared in the Beaver County Times on November 27, 1995. As Will is a syndicated columnist it would have appeared in a lot of other papers as well on (or around) November 27 - to give some perspective when I found this article a few years ago Will's column was then running in something like 450 newspapers. According to Wiki, in 1986 no less than the Wall Street Journal called Will, ""perhaps the most powerful journalist in America".

Article has been transcribed. So, any errors are more than likely due to that.

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=HX ... ting&hl=en
 

Quote

Commentary

Extreme fighting takes sport into the depths

George Will
Beaver County Times - Nov 27, 1995


Here are some sounds of entertainment in a nation entertaining itself into barbarism:

I was hitting him to the brainstem, which is a killing blow, and when he covered up Id swing back with upswings to the eye sockets with two knuckles and a thumb. There was no other place on his body you could hurt him.

Theres the toe stomp!

Theres an open thigh there he should do some punching.

His tooth went flying out of the ring!

Hes going to snap his arm he did too!

Those are words from a participant and some announcers involved in ultimate fighting or extreme fighting which involves two combatants in an octagonal pen, governed by minimal rules: no biting or eye gouging. There are no rounds, no judges, no weight classifications. (The man pounding the brain stem and eye socket was fighting a 650-pound wrestler.) The combatants fight until one is unconscious, disabled or taps out taps the canvas signalling surrender. The referees job is to watch for the tapping, occasionally summon a doctor to see if a participant can continue, and exhort the combatants to pour it on.

Six states have permitted such a spectacle. One permissive state is enough to make this a flourishing amusement on pay-per-view television.

Three months ago about 300,000 subscribers paid $20 each to see the seventh Ultimate Fighting Championship.

More are coming, but if you cant wait, your neighborhood Blockbuster, which will not rent sexual pornography, probably offers cassettes of some UFC events like the one in which a mans face was pounded to a pulp while he crawled across the canvas, leaving a broad smear of blood.

Especially memorable is slow-motion footage from an overhead camera showing a man pounding the face of a pinned opponent. Aficionados savor full-force kicks to faces and elbows smashed into temples.

Participants in these events are frightening, but less so than the paying customers. They include slack-jawed children whose parents must be cretins, and raving adults whose ferocity away from the arena probably does not rise above muttering epithets to meter maids.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a former Naval aviator who was a boxer at Annapolis and spent more than five years being tortured as a prisoner by the North Vietnamese, knows appropriate manliness and is exhorting governors and local officials to ban extreme fighting events because they pose an unacceptable risk to the lives and health of the contestants.

To the objection that the contestants are consenting adults, McCain, arguing within the severe limits imposed by our societys respect for choice, contents that the consent may be somehow illusory. He says perhaps a contestant is driven by profits or the enticements of publicity associated with it and unknowingly is placing his or her life at risk.

To which libertarians respond: If you ban being driven by profits and enticed by publicity, what remains of modern life?

Besides, no one has yet been killed in extreme fighting, which is more than can be said for boxing.

Although in one letter to a governor McCain says he is solely concerned with damage done to combatants, he also worries about the glorification of cruelty, which raises the problem of virtue: What do we want government to do in the name of that?

The historian Macaulay, disdaining the Puritans, said they banned bearbaiting not because it gave pain to bears but because it gave pleasure to spectators. The Puritans were, of course, tiresome but were they wrong? Surely there are ignoble, unwholesome pleasures. The federal government is moving against what is considers one such: Never mind the lawyers palaver about job discrimination, it is the problem of incorrect pleasure that has Washington scowling at Hooters restaurants.

Washington manages to make even a concern about virtue seem ludicrous, but extreme fighting forces a commercial society to decide when the morals of the marketplace are insufficient. Do we really ban cockfighting only because birds cannot consent? Suppose (one hates to give entertainment entrepreneurs any of the few odious ideas they have not yet had) someone offers a $10 million prize for a Russian roulette competition winner take all, necessarily. Imagine the pay-per-view potential.

Would should we so respect consumer sovereignty that we would allow that? The question is hypothetical, but perhaps not for long.

In entertainment, competition does not elevate. Competition for audiences in an increasingly jaded, coarsened and desensitized society causes competitors to devise ever-more lurid vulgarities to titillated the sated.

If you think extreme fighting is as extreme as things can get, just wait.

George Will is a television commentator and syndicated columnist for The Washing Post Writers Groups.

Edited by nfc90210

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