Appeal-Democrat Archive Writing

It’s about the competition

August 21, 2007

There are no eight-ounce gloves on the fighters’ hands. No padding to protect their bodies. It’s just two men trying to knock each other into submission.

About 500 people watched a series of mixed martial arts bouts during the Cage Combat Meltdown at the Yuba-Sutter Fairgrounds on Saturday. Fighters use a combination of punches, kicks and other moves to knock each other around a caged octagon ring. The fight can end with a knockout, by a fighter tapping out or a judge’s decision.

Aaron Britt, 20, of Yuba City has bought Pay-Per-View fights and was watching mixed martial arts for the second time in person. Aside from the “ring girls,” who wear a few strips of clothing, knee-high boots and a smile, Britt enjoys the simple drama behind the fights.

“It’s combat,” he said. “Two men get in there and someone loses.”

The idea of four limbs flying in a fight may seem like unnecessary violence, like the gladiators of ancient Rome, but to the fans who paid at least $35 to watch, it is subtly powerful drama.

Carlos Loredo has followed his friend, Mario Rivera, from their home town in Coalinga to Los Angeles to Yuba City. He sees the minutia that makes a fight great.

“It’s not about the knockouts,” he said. “It’s them getting their butts kicked one minute, then they flip the other guy into submission.”

As far as the violence is concerned, Loredo said crowds that show up to fights are into the action and not searching for blood and fighters being pulled away on stretchers. The crowds come to see a good competition between two men trying to beat each other with skill and power.

“Everyone just comes out and has a good time,” he said. “These guys are real athletes they’re watching.”

The skills fighters use go beyond the ring.

Jerry Gallagher, 36, has his 10-year-old son, Jerry, learning the art of the mixed martial arts style at Axis Academy in Redding.

The younger Gallagher trains with one of the fighters taking part in the meltdown, Kavika Morton.

“He’s teaching him to have a cool head and defend himself,” the older Gallagher said.

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