Legal moves can't stop cage fight
Legal moves can't stop cage fight
Monday, April 30, 2007
By Jayson Bussa
The Grand Rapids Press
With legal debate still raging, 50 fighters and roughly 4,000 spectators filed into the DeltaPlex for Cage Combat on Saturday night, a mixed-martial arts event put on by United Cage Fighters.
Greg Ahrens, promoter for UCF, was issued a cease and desist order a few months ago, but the amateur event still took place. Ahrens believes these types of events are legal because he said the state government does not regulate kickboxing or martial arts.
The event attracted fighters from across the area, with backgrounds ranging from jujitsu and muay thai, to street fighting. Fighters punched, kicked and grappled their way to victory via knockout, decision or submission.
Matches consisted of three, 3-minute rounds, many ending well before the final bell. Fighters were not paid for their participation and fought in one of several weight classes. A fight doctor also was on hand.
There were 52 pre-registered fighters and several others showed up at the 5 p.m. weigh-in. Only 50 made the cut.
James Tilley, 19, participated in his first mixed-martial arts match. The 5-foot-9, 159-pound grappler out of Newaygo High School said he wanted to try the sport to see how far he could go with it.
"I'm a little nervous and anxious," Tilley said before his match. "That's a good thing, though, otherwise I'd probably go out and get my butt kicked."
Tilley said he is aware of the sport's criticisms. He issues skeptics one challenge before they draw conclusions.
"Try it," he said. "That's all I can say."
Marcus Ringnalda, 24, of Caledonia, came to Cage Combat not to fight, but to support his brother-in-law Ryan Myers, 24, of Jenison.
Ringnalda said he isn't a mixed-martial arts fan, and didn't know what to expect from the match.
"(When the match started) I got really excited and it was fun to finally see him fight a real match," Ringnalda said.
Myers won his match in the first round via submission using a naked choke.
This was the 5-10, 152-pound street fighter's first mixed-martial arts event, but he promised it was only the beginning.
"As long as the events are there and the funds are there, I'm going to keep doing this," Myers said.
Myers also said he realizes to keep his dream alive, he'll need local sanctioned events in Michigan.
"I love Michigan and I will probably never leave," Myers said. "People have the wrong idea about this (sport). They think it's just a bunch of fighting. They don't realize that, after my match, I hugged my opponent in the locker room."
Myers drew strong local support as he had an entourage of more than 20 friends and family in attendance. Some family members learned more about him.
"All I know is that I don't want to pick a fight with him at the next holiday," Ringnalda said.
Ahrens, despite a scheduled court hearing in June, plans to continue UCF events after what he deemed as a successful trip to Grand Rapids.
"Grand Rapids really came out and showed that they need this," Ahrens said.
He has scheduled events at Cobo Hall in Detroit on May 12 and the Berlin Fair on July 19.
"We're really happy about the way things are going for us," Ahrens said.
This is a bit more interesting than your regular run of the mill 'look he competed in MMA' stories in that the promoted ignored a C&D order and proceded with the show. Since the article doesn't mention any wild injuries or riots, I guess we can assume there were none and the event proceded fairly smoothly.
What could be some ramifications of going ahead with the show despite the C&D order?
Seriously? I don't think there's anything that can happen here. A C&D means it's not a criminal issue, so the police aren't getting involved (otherwise they could have just called the police to shut it down). The only way they could sue is if they could find a complainant who had standing to bring the suit; that fighters got hurt or assaulted isn't good enough since only the fighters themselves would have standing to sue for that. The C&D was almost certainly a scare tactic of the legally impotent.