FORT HOOD,Texas – The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s “Fight for the Troops 3” will broadcast live on FOX Sports 1 from Fort Campbell, Ky., Nov. 6.
The event will provide an opportunity for soldiers to see a live UFC fight while raising money for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, a charity which helps support military personnel who were wounded or injured in service and their families.
Among the main card fighters is Staff Sgt. Colton Smith, the chief combatives instructor at the Combatives Training Facility here on Fort Hood.
Smith, who is best known for winning “The Ultimate Fighter: Team Carwin vs. Team Nelson,” will face yet another TUF winner, lightweight Michael Chiesa.
“I feel great,” said Smith. “This is my lightweight debut.”
Smith’s current record stands at 6-2-0 against Chiesa’s 9-1-0. While Chiesa may have a slight height and range advantage, Smith expects to close this gap through the use of his newly honed skills combined with sheer athletic ability.
“I believe my skill set is far superior to his,” said Smith. “I take more of a calculated approach to my training.”
Smith has taken every opportunity to build upon his skills in the months leading up to the fight, spending five nights training with Army veteran and Fight for the Troops 3 headliner Tim Kennedy.
Kennedy, a former special forces operator, runs a mixed martial arts gym in Austin, Texas. Their shared history as combat veterans provides a common ground on which Kennedy and Smith have built their friendship.
“I look up to him,” said Smith. “He’s a motivating guy to be around. He trains hard, one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met.”
At Kennedy’s behest, Smith went to train at the world renowned Jackson’s MMA gym in Albuquerque, N.M.
“The best fighters in the world train out of Jackson’s,” said Smith. “The Army afforded me the opportunity to go on leave and go out there and train.”
It was at Jackson’s MMA that Smith received the kind of elite training which he had been yearning for.
Clocking 21 workouts a week, Smith was able to drop weight and enter the Lightweight division. More importantly, Smith was able to boost his confidence while learning new techniques and reinforcing the old.
“It’s a grind, but my family understands my dream, my passion,” said Smith.
All of his labor will culminate next Wednesday night in Kentucky.
While the world watches the two gladiators in the ring, it’s easy to lose sight of the monumental effort involved in being able to compete as one of the best fighters in the sport, as well as the support of those around them.
“It’s the same reason why we join the military,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Domenic Brisbin, a combatives instructor at Fort Hood and friend of Smith. “You get to be part of a bigger cause.
“Colton Smith represents so much more than just a soldier fighting, he represents the best of the armed services, going in there and showing that we’re professional in all that we do.”
Brisbin has spent the past year working with Smith at the Combatives Training Facility. They have trained together nearly every day, along with the other instructors at the CTF, united by a common love for the Modern Army Combatives Program.
The Modern Army Combatives Program is the Army’s method of training soldiers to defeat the enemy in hand to hand combat while developing teamwork, confidence, and instilling the Warrior Ethos.
“It’s gotten me where I am today,” said Smith. “[MACP] is something that’s very near and dear to my heart.”
“We have a love for it. We’re not here because we have to be, we’re here because we want to be,” said Smith. “We want to grow this program as best we can.”
Smith’s investment in the program is personal.
“I’m a front-line soldier first and foremost. I’ve been there, boots on the ground,” said Smith, an infantry soldier by trade in addition to being both Airborne and Ranger qualified.
“I realize what combatives has done for me as a soldier, not just to take care of a situation, but to deescalate a situation.”
It is this versatility which Smith and his comrades try and impart upon the soldiers they teach at the CTF, to provide them with options in an otherwise impossible situation.
One of the tools which he uses to accomplish this is the CTF’s 2,000 square foot Military Operations on Urban Terrain facility which the instructors use to train soldiers for closing with the enemy in a situation where they may be unable to use their rifle effectively.
“There are so many cases of soldier’s lives being saved, and many we don’t know of, because they knew how to deescalate a situation,” said Smith.
“Leave your ego at the door,” advises Smith. “We’ll teach you a skill that you’re going to carry with you for the rest of your life.”
Now, due to the ongoing budget sequestration, the combatives program has come under scrutiny. In the face of impending cuts to the program, Smith remains resolute in the importance of teaching combatives to soldiers.
“It doesn’t cost any money to run the program,” said Smith. “I can still teach combatives.
“Give me a rubber chip pit outside. I don’t care whether it’s winter, summer, or whenever, and I’ll save soldiers lives because of it.”