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Fight Club 29 member Omar Askew mounts and pounds his opponent’s upper body during the Fight Expo pankration tournament at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in Del Mar, Calif., March 21.

Photo by Cpl. Nicole A. LaVine

Fight Club 29 battles Camp Pendleton Marines

21 Mar 2009 | Cpl. Nicole A. LaVine

Six members of the Combat Center Fight Club 29 participated in a hard-fought Fight Expo mixed martial arts tournament against fellow Marines from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., in Del Mar, Calif., March 21.

The two-day event, which took place in correlation with the Grapplers Quest submission grappling tournament, featured the same rules as standard pankration tournaments and acted as a showcase for the sport, said Mark M. Geletko, the team’s head coach.

Fight Club 29 was hand-selected along with three other teams by the Fight Expo staff to act as a showcase and bring more visability to the sport, said Geletko, a Pittsburgh native.

Big-time names from the world of Mixed Martial Arts and Jujitsu such as Brandon Vera, Eddie Bravo and Joe Stevenson also made an appearance at the event.

Fight Club 29 kicked off the show by battling with the Camp Pendleton team for a chance to compete in the final bout.

Despite the fact Fight Club 29 lost its first two bouts against the Pendleton Marines, the club made an intense comeback when 170-pound middleweight fighter James Clark bulldogged his opponent on the ground and raised his glove in victory at the end of the match.

The team’s wins are results of the team’s monthly tournaments, Clark said after his match.

“I’m glad we get to keep fighting every single month,” he said. “It helps us become more comfortable with our skills, get out there and get better experience.”

Next on the mat was teammate Omar Askew, who defeated his state-championship opponent after an intense match that went into overtime, despite an injury he sustained to his ankle.

Light heavyweight Fight Club 29 member Allen McBroom also continued the team’s winning streak despite the fact that it was his very first fight.

Although McBroom’s opponent had been classified as an intermediate-level fighter, McBroom seemed to not let that reputation stand between him and success. He rushed his opponent back and forth across the mat with a barrage of knees and fists.

At the sound of the buzzer, McBroom extended a hand to help his opponent up as the referee raised McBroom’s other hand in the air.

“Judging by what I trained for, I fought the way I expected to,” said McBroom, a Lubbock, Texas native. “My team definitely got me more prepared for this fight than anything else. I’m still a little uncomfortable on the ground, but the upcoming submission tournament will be more practice for me.”

With a score 9 to 10 and Pendleton in the lead, teammates from both sides of the mat seemed to feed on the suspense as they cheered on their final fighters.

The final match brought 220-pound Fight Club 29 contender Nate Wolf on the mat for his fourth match since he joined the club. 

As Wolf pursued his rival with his fists guarding his face, he exchanged quick jabs and kicks with his equally skilled opponent. Despite his efforts, Wolf came short within five points of his challenger.

Even though both teams tied on their numbers of wins and loses, the Pendleton team won a bout with a submission, giving them an extra three points that contributed to their final winning score, Geletko said.

“We missed the gold by only a few percentage points,” Geletko said. “It was a good, close fight.”

Both military teams are very competitive, yet a good relationship still exists among the members of each team, Geletko said.

The number of fights Camp Pendleton’s team has been in, as well as the general skill level of their members, is higher than those in the fight club, Geletko added.

Although Fight Club 29 was slated to undergo another bout with civilian team Millennia, the competition was cut short due to time limitations.

“I’m disappointed we didn’t get another fight in,” Geletko said. “Everybody wanted to fight again since we already made the trip, but all experience is good experience.”

Fight Club 29 ended up walking away with a bronze medal at the end of the tournament.

The fight exposition initiated the beginning of what Fight Club 29 anticipates as a three-week spread of fight events each weekend, continuing with a Grappling X pankration tournament at Disney Land on March 21 and a state pankration tournament April 5.


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