Cage showcases warrior spirit
March 29, 2012
FORT SILL, Okla. -- The fight card announced mixed martial arts March 24 when 36 Soldiers battled in the cage at Rinehart Fitness Center on Fort Sill.
At stake for the winners were pro-style belts and the distinction of being the best combatives fighter in one of 10 weight divisions.
Maj. Gen. David Halverson, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general, gave a special welcome and a challenge to advanced individual training and Basic Combat Training Soldiers
"In the arena it's all about warriors, about discipline and mutual respect after the fight, that's what warfighting is about and what we're about," he said. "This is our spirit, you have to commit to our spirit to become a part of this team."
A throaty Hoo-ah reverberated around the gym in response; a harbinger of the noise that would rise and fall as each Soldier fought toe-to-toe with his or her opponent.
Capt. Amanda Rowse, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 31st Air Defense Artillery, won the female lightweight title fighting against a determined Pvt. Courtlynn Rohlfing, B Battery, 2nd Battalion, 6th ADA. Rohlfing controlled Rowse through much of the early going, but the victor later said 'never quit' is especially important in MMA fights.
"You never know what an opponent is going to do or if you might slip out. She got tired, let go for a second and I capitalized on that," she said.
Rowse said her opponent moved into a bad position from which she was able to get in a rear mount and put Rohlfing in a rear naked choke ending the fight by submission. She said it was her third time in the ring and first championship proving for her the third time really was the charm.
Pfc. Stephanie Frew, C Battery, 3rd Battalion, 6th ADA took top honors in the female welterweight division. Like many fights, Frew took Pvt. Kathryn Altstaetter to the canvas, got to a full mount then threw punches at an opponent reduced to just blocking and not fighting back. The referee stepped in then to stop the fight.
Unlike most fights, Frew and Alstaetter will see each other often. Not only are the two in the same unit, they are also roommates.
"Kathryn is a really good friend, and it was hard when we found out we would be fighting against each other," said Frew, who enjoyed the challenge of MMA and having to think her way through things in the bout.
2nd Lt. Nick Shafer, attending the ADA Basic Officer Leadership Course, said training with Capt. Jason Norwood, Fort Sill Combatives officer in charge, after duty hours at the Fort Sill Combatives School really helped his game.
Shafer won the middleweight division after a referee stoppage. He said he had his opponent in an inverted arm bar that can put a lot of pressure on the elbow joint. When Norwood introduced the fights and ground rules earlier in the evening, he said any joint manipulation moves would be called quickly to prevent serious injury.
"If they didn't stop the fight, you could take someone's arm home with you," said Shafer, who appreciated the sportsmanship of his opponent, Spc. Willette Jordan, D Battery, 3rd Battalion, 2nd ADA. Jordan later helped Shafer remove the protective tape from his hands.
Spc. Tony Pena, A Battery, 168th Brigade Support Battalion, captured the welterweight belt. He not only knew his opponent well, the two fought all-Army last year and trained together for a year. Pena, who prefers the stand up and punch game, won his bout in the second round when the referee stopped the fight.
"I worked my jab and kept him at my pace instead of letting him control the fight. When he tried to go for a take down, I went to uppercuts and underhooks under his arms to keep my distance," he said. He also teaches combatives to 214th Fires Brigade Soldiers.
The final fight featured the heavyweights, and coincidently it was an all-Jensen showdown. Spc. Jack Jensen, C Battery, 3rd Battalion, 6th ADA, beat Spc. Lucas Jensen, C Battery, 3rd Battalion, 2nd ADA. Despite giving up a few inches in height and reach, he used a good ground game to take the title.
"Sometimes in a fight you have to work off the other guy's advantages. Although he was taller and could connect on punches from further away, his height meant there was more leg area for me to attack to get the match on the canvas," said Jack.
Other winners were Spc. Tony Garcia, HHB/6th ADA, bantamweight division; Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Mejil, A/3-2nd ADA, flyweight division; Staff Sgt. Donald Kirchner, Fires Center of Excellence combatives, cruiserweight division; and Spc. Nicholas Baccire, C/3-2nd ADA, light heavyweight division.
The event also pitted third and fourth place finishers to determine the second runner-up. At intermission, Center Fire, the 77th U.S. Army Band's rock 'n' roll dynamo, entertained and even incited some audience participation particularly from 3-6th ADA Soldiers who stood and bellowed along to the lyrics lead singer, Sgt. Michael Blue belted out.
A video of the tournament is on the Cannoneer website, sill-www.army.mil or on the Fort Sill Cannoneer's Facebook page.