MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER, TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Cheers rang out from around the ring, but the fighters heard nothing but their own heartbeats, they swayed back and forth, sweat beading on their brows. Completely focused on their opponents, and their battle for dominance, the crowds of people gathered at Del Valle Field Oct. 22 to watch men demonstrate their fighting skills in the Mixed Martial Arts Competition. Seven amateur fights and three professional fights were fought in a caged ring aboard the Combat Center’s field.
This was a free event, and the fighters felt honored to demonstrate their skill on a Marine Corps installation.
“[The Marines] do intense stuff for us,” said Drew Bittner, a professional fighter in the main event.
“We feel privileged to do this for them, and it’s our way of saying thank you for putting your life on the line.”
The fighters, in their intense and fight-ready state of mind, said they felt a connection with the Marine fighters overseas. “We fight for sport, you fight for us,” said Andres Alcantar, an amateur fighter in the competition. “We look up to you guys.”
The only Marines who signed up for the fight were members of the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton team.
The competitions kicked off with the 185-pound weight class where Jeremy Petruncio was the first to fight against Marshall Rodriguez. After an intense start, Jeremy won by knock out in the first round.
Round after round and fight after fight, fighters pulled techniques from many styles of fighting, such as Brazilian jujitsu, kickboxing, wrestling, muay thai, tae kuan do.
The main event consisted of Anthony Figueroa and Drew Bittner weighing in for the 135-weight class. The two fighters reflected and surpassed the intensity of the previous nine fights.
The crowd was more fired up than ever before, and the fighters’ blows seemed harder and more intense than anyone had thrown that night.
Finally a fighter was down and the end result was Figueroa’s victory with a knockout in the 2nd round. Figueroa’s comment at the end of the fight was simple but motivating, “Oorah!”