MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Three Fight Club 29 fighters dominated their opponents at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., May 16 during the Armed Forces Pankration Invitational, a state competition open to all active duty and reserve military personnel.
James Clark, Omar Askew and Daniel Marquez all conquered the ring and qualified for the national team. Fight Club 29 also took second place overall in points, closely following the Camp Pendleton team.
“These are three of my most seasoned fighters,” said Mark Geletko, the team’s coach. “All three of them went undefeated in their weight brackets, winning gold medals mostly by point domination.”
Clark dominated his opponents, and even whitewashed several of them, meaning he shut them out in points, Geletko said. Askew had a closer match, but defeated his adversary during a one-minute overtime.
“I found it was better to go against all military because the competition was in a lot better shape,” Clark said. “It made it a bit more competitive because the guys weren’t burnt out after only one round.”
Despite the increase in competition, Clark still remains undefeated in his weight class for pankration and submission grappling.
“I’ve got a lot of background in wrestling, so I was able to take my opponents to the ground and win by points,” he said. “I’ve been grappling my whole life. I enjoy the competition and the fun. I’m just trying to stay in shape and have fun with these guys.”
Askew also said the competition provided a challenge, but he feels his discipline and mindset helped him prevail over his foes.
“I go into a fight with the same mindset every man has in battle – it’s either him or me,” Askew said. “It’s all about having mental discipline, physical discipline and character discipline. Having that discipline is what drives me over the top to defeat my opponents.
“I look at this as an opportunity for future endeavors in [mixed martial arts],” he said. “I always fight mentally, physically, and with character and bearing. Every day I wake up is a challenge for me to strive to be better.”
Fight Club 29 will compete in their next tournament June 13 in San Bernardino, Calif. The three fighters who qualified for nationals are eligible to attend the National Pankration Team training camp in Milwaukee in July. The national team will compete in Lithuania against other teams from around the world in September.