FIGHT! Across America

For years now, MMA’s biggest events have been found west of the Mississippi. There was a small glimmer of hope when a couple of organizations in the Northeast were featuring more popular fighters, such as Kimbo Slice. But as quickly as they rose, they flamed out ten times faster. So once again, I found myself praying to the gods of MMA.

 

Recently, I received a call from Beth Ann Guthridge at Gladiator Fight Club, a new organization out of Winchester, Virginia. Their goal is to feature up and coming fighters in MMA, and to promote the sport in a professional and entertaining manner. Of course,

I was quick to jump on board. Beth Ann put me in touch with the promotion’s president,

Christopher McCabe, so that I could find out more about the GFC. Christopher informed

me that famed UFC referee Mario Yamasaki and his brother, Fernando Yamasaki, were backing the debut event.

 

After a couple months of correspondence, I knew that Christopher and the rest of his staff had put their hearts and souls into the organization. So I had to make my way east to see what they had to offer. When I arrived in Washington, D.C., I had an hour-long drive into the country to find Winchester, Virginia. After passing a few farms and a Super K-Mart, I knew I was far from the bright lights of the big city. I began to understand what people meant by grass roots. But for MMA to make its mark on the East Coast, what better place to start than to start with the small towns?

 

I made my way to Piccadilly’s Brew & Pub for the pre-fight festivities. It was the day before the event, and they were having public weigh-ins. I have always found this great, because it creates a huge buzz. If you are lucky, a couple of fighters will have a stare down, and have the fans talking about it all night and into the next day. It was crowded, and I was only able to get a spot back by the bar. But trust me; a spot by the bar is nothing to complain about. Piccadilly’s brews their own beer, and Mario Yamasaki and I fell in love with it instantly.

 

As the weigh-ins were being photographed and filmed, I finally got the chance to meet Christopher in person. I think I could take him in a bar brawl, but since I consider him a friend, I shook his hand and gave him a great big man-hug. He and his team did a great job creating hype before the fight. Plus, all of the fighters were in excellent shape and came ready to fight.

 

The next day, I showed up to the venue early to watch them set up. The event was being held at Winchester’s Sportsplex, which holds a couple of shops and two hockey/indoor soccer fields. They had begun setting up the ring the night before, and were putting up two enormous video screens to ensure the 1,500 fans in attendance could see every drop of sweat on each competitor. The lighting rig, video production, and sound were of the same caliber that you would find at any of the larger MMA events.

 

At this point, I was anxious for 7:30pm to come around. I wanted to see the lights go down and the fights begin. It was 5:30, and the fans were already shuffling in. I could definitely feel the excitement in the air, and got a strong sense that Winchester was embracing the event as well as the sport of MMA.

 

When the first bout started, I found that the crowd was more than ready to participate and show their support of each fighter. Renegade Fight Gear helped sponsor the event, and provided every fighter with fight shorts, which I found very professional and gave the event more of a professional appeal. As the evening went on, I saw that Christopher and his entire staff had everything under control. The event was going off without a hitch.

 

By the end of the night, my feet were tired from walking around to take pictures and cornering a couple of fighters. All in all, the trip was one of the most memorable of my lifetime and an experience that I will never forget. I predict that Gladiator Fight Club, with the help of the Yamasakis, Christopher McCabe, his staff, and the fans, will become an East Coast Mecca for MMA. I look forward to checking out their next event in April.

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