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From the stands: And now for something completely different

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From the stands: And now for something completely different   By David Wolcott GateHouse News Service

Posted Jun 26, 2009 @ 03:04 PM



Working as a sportswriter has been a great opportunity to do some things that I wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to experience. Over the last 15 years, I’ve covered everything from state title hockey, boxing and basketball contests to following Tiger Woods around a golf course – as well as covering Wrestlemania XIV.

And just when I think I’ve seen just about everything, something new jumps up and grabs my attention. Such was the case last Saturday night when I attended my first mixed martial arts event, “Rumble in the Jungle”, a 20-match card promoted by Cage Fighting Xtreme at the JunglePlex in Plymouth. I got to see really expensive boxing gloves worn by the best during and before the fight. Needless to say, it turned out to be a night I won’t soon forget. Things got started about an hour late because of the heavy traffic trying to get to the building. But once everyone settled in, there seemed to be no more need for seating as the fans spent most of the night on their feet cheering on their favorite fighter.

“Mixed martial arts combine several different fighting styles into one exciting package,” event promoter Linda Shields told me last week for a story previewing the event. “Hopefully we’ll have some entertainment for everyone.”

Shields wasn’t joking when she said the fans would get their money’s worth with several different fighting styles on display in the caged battleground. From martial arts kicks to judo throws to the ground, and from pound-style basic wresting to a plain old fist to the face, each fighter brought his own specialty to the ring. And the crowd absolutely ate it all up.

I’ve seen some MMA fights on television, but this was the first time I experienced the action live and in person. Honestly, television can’t come close to relaying the energy surge you get from being at the fights. While the fights are 100 percent real, you can definitely see many elements of professional wrestling in MMA. The pageantry is there, with the pounding theme songs that play during each fighter’s ring entrance, and you could see right away that the crowd, which was estimated at more than 3,000, had its favorites.

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