America’s fastest growing contact sport must be mixed martial arts which is gaining ground on boxing with each pulsating televised show. Fighters from various combat disciplines such as judo, karate, jujutsu, muay Thai, wrestling and boxing get in an octagon and mix it for three all-action rounds. Shorter than boxing but often far more action because of the kicks, punches, locks and holds.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship is leading the way in championing MMA which is so compelling that the Hollywood A-listers seem for once to be happy not being the centre of attention.
Cayman fans of MMA get another chance to enjoy the super-fit athletes pitting their brawn, skills and courage against each other tomorrow.
Seven pulsating bouts are scheduled with some of the island’s toughest brawlers squaring up against each other. This bill was put together after months of planning. It has been compiled by martial arts expert Trevor Howard and his co-promoter Chris Dinan on short notice.
Dinan is a co-partner with Howard in the Palaestra Mixed Martial Arts gym. It’s billed as Proving Ground II, following the initial successful Proving Ground show a few months ago
‘One of the main fights we’re looking to see a lot of action in is Todd Stewart against Steve ‘Chappy’ Chapman,’ said Dinan. ‘The two of them have been publicly discussing each other and I’d say that these guys may even get upset with each other at the weigh-in at Aqua Beach on Thursday at 7pm. Todd has a lot of friends from rugby club attending.
‘And we’ve got Jasmin Muratagic. He’s real crazy, a bar tender with a crazy accent, a former Yugoslavian military guy who has promised to put on a good show. He’s fighting Cameron Rasmussen.’
Many of the contestants are fighting for only the first or second time in MMA but there won’t be any lack of finesse nor commitment because they have all excelled in their particular sport.
‘A few guys have some good experience,’ said Dinan. ‘Tim Coulson has a lot of karate experience. He won easily in the first Proving Ground show. He’s fighting Aaron Simpson, a two-time All-American champion with a record of 142-1 in wrestling. We’re putting him up against a tougher guy this time.
‘Then there’s Troy O’Neil, the former Caribbean light-heavyweight boxing champion. This is his MMA debut and he’s pretty confident with the five ounce gloves that he can spring a knock out somewhere within the first few seconds of the contest. He’s fighting Ryan McMahon, a wrestler with a lot of experience who said he’s definitely not going to get knocked out by Troy. He plans to show that boxing is not enough anymore.
‘Ryan says he’s not a big fan of boxing and although it’s one of the more important sports inside of mixed martial arts, he’s going to prove that boxing is ineffective against wrestling.’
Howard trains many of the fighters on this bill. He won’t be appearing having just competed at the world judo championships in Brazil but may make an appearance on Proving Ground III on New Year’s Eve.
‘We’re hoping then to find somebody in the US or locally who will be willing to go into the octagon with Trevor,’ Dinan said who hopes to attract more American interest.
‘Last time we had a lot of guys from combat sports in Arizona come down and ended up having a piece in the Washington Post on the Cayman Islands and our mixed martial arts scene.’
The show’s special guest is Jamie Varner who is making a name for himself in the UFC. Currently 4-0, Varner is moving up the rankings rapidly. ‘It’s great for us to have guys like this to come here because they go back home and advertise our website. They tell people about here. We try to make sure they have a really good time and learn about as much of the island as they can while they’re here.’
John Mack, better known as Next Level Nitemares quarterback in flag football, trains in mixed martial arts and may well be on the December show.
Ronnie Carroll is one of the cornermen for this show. He thrashed police officer Bill McLaughlin last time and just to prove that there are few grudges in the sport, Carroll is in McLaughlin’s corner this time. The show will be well supported and could be a full house judging by the 1,400 tickets that were already sold on Tuesday.
‘The thing you have to take into consideration is the months that these guys have been training, not just to make weight but also to learn all the things they need to survive in the octagon. It’s a very serious business and there’s a lot of money at stake for the winners as well.
‘We have two classes of fights. Class B wear shin guards and nine and 10 ounce gloves and the rules are slightly different in that you can’t throw elbows, you can’t do knees and things like that on the ground which is a good opener for people who want to get into MMA. The Class A is basically what you see on TV with the five ounce gloves. There are rules, but they are limited.’
Chris Thompson (student, Caymanian) v Bill McLaughlin (police officer, Caymanian)
Cameron Rasmussen v Jasmin Muratagic (Bar tender, Macabucca/Cracked Conch)
Todd Stewart (bar tender, rugby player, Canadian) v Steve ‘Chappy’ Chapman (bar tender, PD’s)
Jason Ward (bar tender, Deckers) v Floyd Moxam (Caymanian)
Aaron Simpson (USA) V Tim Coulson (Caymanian and presently heavyweight
to beat in Cayman)
Ryan McMahon (St Matthews Medical School) v Troy O’neil (Cayman Boxing Club)
Aaron Lynch (St Matthews Medical School) v Ray Steinbeiss (USA)
* Proving Ground II. Lions Centre, Friday 5 October, gates open at 6pm. Official after party is at District 6 nightclub. Ticket Prices:
VIP (all you can drink/eat) $150
RingSide seating $100
General Admission $35
Ticket available at:
Palaestra Strategies on Dorcy Drive
For more information, go to: www.palaestrategy.com