Fighting for weekend action

Posted: Thursday, May 25, 2006

Several modern-day gladiators will face each other this weekend, but rather than fighting in a coliseum as in days past, these competitors will fight in a cage.

“Also called cage fighting or ultimate fighting, this is going to be a mixed martial arts contest, and the fighters we’ve got on the card are some real meat-eaters,” said Rob Couture, fight promoter for Theater of Pain Productions — the newly formed entertainment company putting on the event.

Mixed martial arts involves two competitors trying to knock each other out or force their opponent to submit using combined fighting techniques from several different disciplines.

“It combines traditional karate, traditional boxing, Thai or Asian-style boxing, wrestling and street fighting. It’s one of the most ultimate athletic endeavors there is,” Couture said.

And, while this use of fists, elbows, knees and feet may make the sport sound like no-holds-barred fighting, Couture said there are actually many rules for fighter safety.

There is no eye-gouging, biting, groin striking, small joint manipulating (finger breaking) or strikes to the spine of any kind, to name just a few such rules.

“It’s not the blood bath everyone thinks it is,” he said.

According to Couture, even the octagonal-shaped cage these athletes compete in is for their safety, since the fighters can really rock-and-roll once they start swinging.

There will be at least eight fights on the card, (with potential for more, since fighters were still being sought when this interview was conducted).

“There will be fights in a range of weight classes from 120-pound flyweights up through the 205-plus-pound heavyweights,” Couture said.

Fights will consist of three three-minute rounds for preliminary bouts and three five-minute rounds for the main event.

Also, Couture said since this event is designed to be entertainment for the Kenai Peninsula, all the fighters are locals. However, that doesn’t mean that these competitors won’t be skilled in the combat sports.

“These guys are all tough,” he said.

Couture said some of the fighters are accomplished athletes in other sports, such as Neil Strausbaugh, who won multiple state championships as a wrestler at Skyview High School. Others are newcomers, but are, as Couture described them, “athletic guys who have a natural affinity to the combat sports.”

Regardless of what these athletes have done before, this weekend’s event will put them to the test — physically and mentally, and as such they have been preparing for weeks to months.

“No one wants to go out there and get their face handed to them. They have all worked really, really hard, hitting the gym every night. They know they have a show to put on and they all want to look professional,” Couture said.

Not all the athletes are men, either, and the female fighters that will compete are tough, as well, Couture said.

“These girls will pull your arm off and beat you with it,” he said.

The event will be Saturday at the Soldotna Sports Center. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with the first fight scheduled to begin at 7.

Advanced tickets are available from Hooligan’s Saloon, Buckets Sports Grill, Top Dog Supply and at the door for $13 for general admission seats and $25 for floor seats for those 21 and older. For more information, call 394-0629.



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