MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
The Combat Center mixed martial arts team claimed the novice team trophy in its third amateur grappling tournament in San Bernardino Sept. 27.
Seven team members from Fight Club 29 fought in the Grapplers Tournament Extreme at the Army National Guard armory in San Bernardino, Calif., bringing home a total of three gold medals, two silver and one bronze, said Mark M. Geletko, Fight Club 29 head coach.
Of the seven fighters, four have fought in previous grappling tournaments with the team.
Omar Askew, the team’s welterweight competitor, has competed in three grappling tournaments in the past and was one of the fighters who took home the gold.
Askew said he believes attitude and good technique are the cornerstones to winning a solid fight.
“I think the reason I won this tournament is because I was able to walk out onto the mat relaxed and calm,” said Askew, an Atlanta native. “When you keep your patience, you’re able to maneuver and manipulate the match and execute your moves. You can respond to your opponent and listen to the instructions your coach gives you at the same time.”
David Dew, junior middleweight fighter, fought his way to gold through three opponents as if he was not a beginner fighter, said Geletko.
Brian Perez, a middleweight competitor who also won gold, said he believes physical conditioning is his strong point and there is always room for improvement.
“I think I can work on everything,” said the Blythe, Calif., native, about his performance. “I can’t pinpoint any one thing to improve on. You can always get better.”
Fight Club 29 members dominated the middleweight class to the point where two fight club members had to fight each other. Perez stepped on the mat facing fellow 165-pound teammate Daniel Marquez and came out on top.
Perez attributes the team’s success on the mat to uncompromising practice and training endured by each member, as well as the coaches.
“I’m not surprised the team did so well,” Perez said. “We all trained hard, and I fully expected everyone to do as well as they did. I knew from our hard work that we’d take away the gold medals.”
John Romero, the team’s grappling coach, played a major role in the team’s success by leading rigorous ground fighting training, said Geletko.
“He was our key to getting all those wins through submissions,” said the Pittsburgh native. “I think our conditioning was a big reason we got gold medals. You could see at the ends of a lot of those fights that our guys had a lot of gas left when the opponents didn’t.”
Although the team did not fight many matches due to the small competitive field at the tournament, Gelekto said he was pleased with their performance.
“I was pretty satisfied with how the team did, especially coming in with as many beginners as we did,” he said.
Romero said he was equally satisfied with the team’s accomplishments and hopes to watch each member improve through the progression of the grappling quarter this winter.
“The team came a long way in the short time we spent on the ground,” said Romero, a Phoenix native. “They did a great job, and I’m proud of each one of them. We just have to keep pushing and making everyone better.”
The team is scheduled to compete in another amateur Grapplers Tournament Extreme in San Diego in October, said Geletko.