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Chris "Taco" Padilla, fighter, Hardbody MMA, strikes Kenny Wyckoff, fighter, Fight Ugly MMA, during Summer Fight Night V at Del Valle Field, June 20, 2014. "This was my first time in Twentynine Palms," Padilla said. "Fighting for the service members is an honor. They're the reason we are here."

Photo by Lance Cpl. Paul Martinez

Mixed-martial arts fights heat up Combat Center

20 Jun 2014 | Lance Cpl. Paul S. Martinez

Fighters entered the cage as equals, but would leave as one winner and one loser. A crowd of several hundred Marines, sailors and family members watched as the fighters touched gloves, and almost immediately, the faster of the two seized the opportunity to strike, beating down his opponent as the crowd roared. His arm was held high by the announcer as he is declared the victor. The next pair of fighters prepare for their bout, declaring Summer Fight Night had returned in full swing.

Rumbles could be felt inside of the cage and out as fighters clashed within during the 5th Annual Summer Fight Night at Del Valle Field, June 20. The event, sponsored by the Xplode Fight Series, featured 24 fighters in 12 matches.

“We’re humble and proud to be here,” said Gregg Sharp, chief executive officer, A2M Entertainment. “It’s a real pleasure to put smiles on Marines’ faces.”

According to Sharp, the evening was coordinated in conjunction with Marine Corps Community Services. After the initial fight night proved popular, it became an annual event for the Combat Center.

Announcer Carlos Kremer fired up the crowd as referee Luis Cobian handled the battles that rocked the octagonal cage.

Fighters could be seen exchanging blows, from swift kicks to thunderous punches and merciless slams, all with the goal of besting the other. Each fighter took the time to personally extend their appreciation for their crowd of service members.

“This was my first time in Twentynine Palms,” said Chris “Taco” Padilla, fighter, Hardbody Fitness MMA. “Fighting for the service members is an honor. They’re the reason we are here.”

True to the nature of a fight, most fighters wasted no time putting ‘the hurt’ on the other. Matches were set to consist of three rounds, but those that successfully forced their opponent to submit, or managed to knock them out, were declared victorious immediately. If the two fighters outlasted each other, judges determined the winner.

“It was fantastic,” said Capt. James Tuck, training officer, Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School. “I love seeing service members out here, and above all, a good fight.”

During designated breaks, spectators took the opportunity to stock up on refreshments or take pictures and receive autographs from the fighters. The event also featured some of the Combat Center’s very own fighting the good fight with the other challengers.

“I hope [the fights] brought morale,” Sharp said. “That’s the key component you can have with an event in this location.”

The main event came at the very end of the night, when Manny Murillo, fighter, Team Quest MMA, challenged defending champion Daniel Hernandez for the championship title in the middleweight division of the Xplode Fight Series. Their clash ended with Hernandez securing his title once more, with the crowd applauding the bout and the evening altogether.

“We want [the Marines] to say ‘I can’t wait to come back here and see a show like this again,’” Sharp said. “We really enjoyed coming here and hopefully we’ll see you all again next summer.”

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms