Fort Meade airman takes tap-out win in MMA bout
October 13, 2011
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. - Battled but barely bruised, David Perez stood proud and victorious within the confines of a steel cage.
By way of tap out by submission, the Air Force technical sergeant sealed his first professional win during a mixed martial arts fight Saturday night. Perez was the seventh bout at Shogun Fights V held at 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore, where he matched up against Mike Young.
The event featured professional fighters from Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.
It was a rear naked choke that finished Young off early in the second round of the fight, but his training at Gaffney Fitness Center prepared Perez for victory.
Perez, of U.S. Cyber Command, trains daily with the Fort Meade-based MMA team, Team Warfighter. Fighters meet in the Combatives room at Gaffney to sharpen their skills in the sport that combines various disciplines of fighting into one full-contact combative sport.
In addition to training with his team, members from Perez's home gym in Albuquerque, N.M., traveled to Maryland to prepare Perez for his second professional MMA fight. Perez has also fought in eight amature bouts.
Thomas Schulte of the Fit NHB gym arrived about a week before Shogun to be in Perez's corner, but he was mostly here to prepare Perez mentally.
"All the things Dave is good at, he doesn't need a ton of help from me," Schulte said. "I'm mostly here to light a fire under him and get him excited."
Training for Shogun intensified about four or five weeks ahead of the fight. In the month leading up to Shogun, Perez trained in two or three sessions a day, with each session running between 90 minutes to two hours. Sessions were broken up into different disciplines that focused on each aspect of the complex sport.
"For a fighter who's serious about the sport, you do your hard work prior to the last couple weeks," Schulte said. "It's Week Five and Week Four and Week Three that you really kill it."
Perez also started a rigorous sparring routine in his training schedule. He would spar in six, five-minute rounds, alternating the disciplines in each round. This helped Perez tweak his techniques in all of the disciplines he would need to combine for a successful fight.
"I'm going all six rounds with a fresh guy," he said five days before the event. "We changed up disciplines: the first five minutes is stand-up, the second five minutes jui jitsu, third five minutes wrestling and then we do the last three like MMA --mixing it all up."
Outside of the gym, Perez studied his competition, creating a game plan for taking down his opposition. For the Shogun fight, Perez matched up against a former two-time Maryland State High School wrestling champion. Perez said he planned on dictating where the fight would go, depending on where he felt comfortable.
"He's a tough wrestler. I'm a tough wrestler myself, and I feel like I have a lot more tools," Perez said. "It's not going to be an easy fight, but it'll be exciting."
The week before the fight, training sessions began to simplify with more focus on technique. Perez said he also worked on getting down to his fighting weight of 145 pounds.
Schulte, who is a professional MMA fighter himself, said Perez was well-prepared heading into Saturday's fight.
"If he brings his A-game, he's not going to have any problems at all," Schulte said.
In Baltimore, members from Team Warfighter and Schulte escorted Perez to the ring surrounded by a chain-linked fence. Despite the fight being Perez's ninth MMA bout, Schulte predicted Perez would be nervous stepping into the ring.
"You never get totally used to it -- anybody who says they are is lying," Schulte said. "Everybody gets nervous, everybody's a little afraid. It's a fight, you're suppose to be. If you're not, you're not fighting somebody tough."
As the cage door closed, Perez and Young tapped fists and began their fight of three, five-minute rounds. The two danced around the center of the ring throwing a few missing punches and kicks. Young made the first move, driving Perez into the cage.
Perez fought Young off with a series of knees to the ribs, but ultimately Young was able to take Perez down to the mat. Despite the bottom position, Perez continued to control Young's posture and the fight with a series of elbows and punches from the ground.
"I was able to give him a few shots from off my back and deflect the few attempts he gave me," Perez said after the fight.
While on the mat, Perez attempted to place Young into a triangle chokehold but was unable to firmly grip his opponent. So he kick-pushed Young into the center of the ring, allowing Perez to get up. The first round ended in a near boxing match, as the two fighters exchanged blows while the bell rang.
Perez, who is typically a slow starter, said he could see that Young was tiring by the end of the first round.
"I was pretty sure he gassed himself trying to take me down, and he was getting tired as I was warming up," Perez said.
As the second round began, Perez took Young down and threw a series of headshots before putting him into a rear naked choke. Young was forced to tap out, ending the fight by submission.
After the fight, Perez said he was happy with his performance, but the fight didn't go according to plan.
"He was a strong opponent and it took me until the second round to figure things out," Perez said. "I expected to do that in the first, but I guess it was better for the fans to do it in the second."
The victory lifted Perez's fight record to 8-1, with a 1-1 professional record.
"This win definitely increases my confidence and climb in the ranks," he said. "I hope to be asked to compete at more shows around the country and continue to increase my record on the win side."