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UNF's #1 Student-Run News Source

UNF Spinnaker

UNF straps on the gloves and steps into the octagon

Mixed Martial Arts took to the ring in the UNF Arena Jan. 22, as fans came in droves to watch 12 action-packed fights.

World Extreme Fighting hosted the event, which started at 7 p.m. and lasted for four hours. WEFMMA is seen as the step below the Ultimate Fighting Championship. This was exemplified as skilled fighters wowed the crowds at the Arena with a variety of knockouts, takedowns and quick movement.

The fights, which consisted of three rounds of five minutes, were all closely fought, but also completely amicable. It was commendable to see guys hit each other for 15 minutes, yet smile, shake hands and hug each other at the end of the fight.

The event contained all the glitz and glamour you would expect. There were scantily clad ring girls, promoters running around in suits and VIP areas where guests drank champagne. Those that walked into the Arena were greeted with flashing red lights and a buzz of excitement. The Arena was at nearly full capacity with people of all ages baying for blood. It had an almost Gladiatorial-like atmosphere.

The opening fight did not disappoint. It pitched Nathan Allen against Josh Tolley. Tolley took it in the second round and from thereon out, the action never stopped. Orange Park favorite Josh Montoro won in an intense fight against Gamille Major, and Ediane Gomes beat Marissa Caldwell via tap out in the only women’s fight of the night.

One of the two showcase fights of the night included notorious fighter Charles “Crazy Horse” Bennett from Ocala, Fla. He faced Fabio Mello and, after an even fight, lost on a split decision. Bennett must be commended for the way he stayed on his feet after some stellar blows from Mello, though. The other main fight of the night, which was also the last, was between Mitch Whitesel and Luigi Fioravanti. After a hard couple of rounds, Fioravanti came through with the submission win.

However, the standout contest of the night was battled out between Tristan Payne and Michael Byrnes. For the duration of the match, the fighters stayed on their feet and exchanged aggressive punches. It was probably the most tactical fight of the night, and both fighters displayed fantastic cardio to last the three rounds. Byrnes deservedly won by unanimous decision and was delighted with his display.

“It feels great to win,” he said. “I’ve been trying to push my cardio. I’ve worked hard, worked with the best in the world. I knew it was going to be tough, and I would have to match him for cardio. I know he does a lot of that, marathons and charity races.”

Although Byrnes insisted he was going to enjoy the win for now, he wants to get back into action as soon as possible.

“I might be fighting in February in another tournament, but nothing is locked down for right now,” he said. “I’ll take whatever is offered to me, I’m just trying to get my name out there as much as possible.”

Greg Crowell, a UNF sophomore and exercise science major, enjoyed the show and praised the atmosphere of the event.

“This was my first fight, so I was eager to see what professional fighting was about, he said. Overall I had a good time,” he said. “I have seen many MMA fights on TV, so I had a sense of what it would be like. The atmosphere is pretty chill and there were a bunch of local fighters so they had a quite a bit of a fan base which was nice to see.”

Crowell insists he would go again but says students should probably get a discount in future.

“Yeah, I’d definitely go again,” he said. “I had a good time watching people be warriors for an evening. The prices were a little out of my liking but overall, it was pleasant. I do think that students should get a discount though. We do pay all kinds of extra fees to go here, so why can’t we get in free or at least for a cheaper rate?”

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