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Combat Center patrons fill the stands for the Leatherneck IV Mixed Martial Arts Fight Night at Del Valle Field, June 5, 2015. The Single Marine Program organized the event and made it open to all Combat Center patrons. (Official Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Levi Schultz/Released)

Photo by Pfc. Levi Schultz

Marines first to 'fight night'

12 Jun 2015 | Lance Cpl. Connor Hancock Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

Combat Center patrons gathered at Del Valle Field for a night of intense entertainment during the Leathernecks IV Mixed Martial Arts Fight Night, June 5, 2015.

The Single Marine Program hosted the event which featured Ultimate Fighting Championship Hall of Fame inductee, Randy Couture, as part of the ‘For the Leathernecks’ campaign. SMP, Semper Fit, Headquarters Battalion and Marine Corps Community Services Special Events worked with MVP Sports to put the event together. More than 700 Combat Center patrons attended the fight night and enjoyed food and drinks, prize giveaways, and music from disk jockey Big Mike.

“The best part of fight night is everyone coming together,” said Lance Cpl. Matt McGiff, rifleman, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment. “Hopefully I’ll be here for the next one.”

The fights began with Chris Hansen tapping out Trey Branch in the first round of the opening match. Each fight consisted of the UFC standard for non-title matches of three rounds at two minutes each. Three of the ten bouts ended by decision, six ended by submission, and the main event hurled the crowd into a verified uproar when it ended with a knockout.

The event was put on to provide Marines and sailors with entertainment while promoting the Marine Corps warrior ethos.

“It gives me something to do when I’m missing home,” said Pfc. Taylor Sandidge, student, Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School. “It’s good that people set up events like this so that we can go out and have fun.”

Randy Couture attended the fight night to socialize with Marines and sailors, and give away prizes. Couture served in the 101st Army Airborne Division from 1982 to 1988 before starting his professional fighting career.

“I think there’s a particular mindset that the military services breed, both in mental toughness and in discipline,” Couture said. “I think all of those things translate into fighting and [competing] in combative sports.”

According to Couture, combative programs like the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program and the Modern Army Combatives Program relate to the mindset that MMA fighters and service members share.

“You have to make sure you strike first- and when you strike, make him respect your power,” said Kirby Mckenzie, MMA fighter, who also won against Robert Marsters by decision.

The main event between amateur MMA fighters, Kid Carradus and Ernie Necochea ended in the first round when Carradus knocked out Necochea with a kick to the head. After the fight, Carradus expressed his gratitude for the military.

“I’m a big supporter of the Marines,” said Carradus. “I would do anything for these guys and I’m glad I could put on a show for them.”

Carradus’ uncle was a Marine, who served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Carradus’ personal ties to the Marine Corps gave him reason to give back to the Marines.

“At the end of the day, we’re entertainers,” Carradus said. “If I can take a little bit of time and have the [service members] enjoy their Friday night to help take their minds of their duties, that’s the most satisfying thing for me.”

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms