The Contingency Operating Base Adder community witnessed an evening of hard-hitting action during 'Fight Night' in front of a packed house at Memorial Hall July 4.

'Fight Night' is a way of bringing the Ultimate Fighting Championship experience to southern Iraq.

"We had a couple of objectives," said Sgt. William Redheffer, Philadelphia native and one of the fighters representing Company A, 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. "We wanted to give people some entertainment and show off the Modern Army Combatives Program, as well as the other Armed Forces programs."

Each match was scheduled for three five-minute rounds. The winner of each match was determined by knockout, technical knockout, submission, or judges' decision.

Event organizers transformed Memorial Hall into a small arena with a boxing ring and an enormous U.S. flag hanging from the ceiling. Each fighter received an introduction from the emcee, complete with individual theme music.

After the bell rang, fighters clashed until a winner emerged. Each participant received a medal to commemorate his efforts.

"It's a sport that's dependent on the fans," said Richard Griffiths, a Denver native to the 3rd BCT, 4th Inf. Div., who competed in a previous event in March. "If it were not for the fans, this wouldn't be possible, so you have to put on a good show for them."

The action received a very energetic response from the audience of about 1,000, much to the appreciation of the participants.

"My opponent would hit me and the crowd would go 'Oooh!', or I would slam him and they would just erupt," Griffiths said. "It was really exciting."

The 12 service members and civilians were able to train and prepare for the event thanks to the Sprungs Gym, affectionately called "The Zoo," located on COB Adder near Memorial Hall. The Zoo is open to anyone one who wants to participate in mixed martial arts training.

The Fight Night was the perfect way to see how everyone has progressed from the training they have received, Redheffer said.

The Zoo is open at 6 p.m. every day except Sunday and offers a variety of disciplines in addition to the Modern Army Combatives programs. Brazilian Ju-jitsu, Muay Thai Boxing, American Boxing, and Greco-Roman Wrestling are just some of the different martial arts offered.

The gym also provides a safe place for fighters to practice their skills. Safety is very important when learning fighting techniques, said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Sean Ballantine, of Chicago native and one of the event's judges. Ballantine, an operational management team chief with Company A, 3rd Special Troops Battalion, 3rd BCT, 4th Inf. Div., also teaches at The Zoo in his spare time.

"If you bring someone in and break one of his arms and one of his legs, that person hasn't learned anything but to not come back. It makes more sense to bring in that person and slowly show them how to evolve as a better fighter and in self-defense," he said.

Training at The Zoo also has many benefits for those interested in a different way of staying in shape, Griffiths said.

"It's very physical," he said. "If you want some good cardio-conditioning with a great strength element, you will get that. It'll get your heart rate going and get you sweating. It also takes some mental toughness as well."

Ballentine said there are plans to hold many Fight Night events in the future. He hopes the recent Fight Night will attract more spectators as well as participants.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16