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Mike Beltrain, referee, announces Andrew Freelove, Marine Corps retiree, as the winner of Fight Night at Victory Field, aboard the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., Oct. 13, 2017. Fight Night is an annual event hosted by Marine Corps Community Services to boost the morale of service members aboard the Combat Center. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Isaac Cantrell)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Isaac Cantrell

Mixed martial artists battle it out during Fight Night 2017

19 Oct 2017 | Cpl. Dave Flores Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

Combat Center patrons gathered for Fight Night 2017 at Victory Field aboard the Combat Center, Oct. 13, 2017. The annual event, which was hosted by Marine Corps Community Services, held eight separate bouts, which included fighters from Fight Club 29.

Major figures from the Ultimate Fighting Championship such as Dan Henderson, a former mixed martial artist and Olympic wrestler, and Mike Beltrain, a renowned UFC referee made special appearances.

“MMA is one of the toughest sports because there is so much to learn when it comes to all of the different MMA fighting styles and preparing for all of the different things that can happen,” Henderson said. “I think that’s the same thing that makes it exciting for the fans; the fact that anything could happen at any time.”

Competitors of the fight night included Marines who train at Fight Club 29, one of whom was Cpl. Xavier Vines. Vines fought his first amateur fight during the final match of the event.

“Fighting has ups and downs,” Vines said. “Sometimes, your back is against the ropes. Other times, you’re running the fight and everything is going well. Fighting, like life, is a roller coaster.”

Those who competed in the event came from a variety of backgrounds, including military and public service. Although many of the competitors have faced adversity, they are all passionate about the sport.

“There are people who tell me that fighting is a waste of time and ask me why I do it,” Vines said. “I do it because I love fighting, why not do what I enjoy?”

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms