News: Mixed martial arts lures Marine warriors
Story by Pfc. Nikki Phongsisattanak
JACKSONVILLE, N.C. - Blood stains in the arena were evidence of furious bouts that tested the resilience of the fighters who faced one another. Every fighter who stepped into the cage knew there could only be one to claim victory.
More than 100 shouting fans filled every available seat, during Richard Dambakly’s Battle in the South 2 amateur mixed martial arts championship at Hooligans Pub and Music Hall in Jacksonville, N.C., Dec. 10.
The event featured eight bouts, four of which featured five Marines from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. Cpl. Nick Bilak, an anti-tank missileman with 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division; Sgt. Ryan Galvan, a combat instructor with Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry-East; Cpl. Matt Berg, a field wireman with Headquarters Company, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division; Cpl. James Boyette, a motor vehicle operator with 2nd Medical Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 25, 2nd Marine Logistics Group and Sgt. John Trickler, a martial arts instructor-trainer with Company I, Advanced Infantry Training Battalion.
Bilak and Boyette both took out their opponents in less than two minutes of the first round by technical knockout. Berg’s tenacity in his fight last October left him nearly untouched, but his fight with James Markham proved to be tougher than he expected.
“After my eye got cut, I couldn’t see anything,” said Berg. “It was frustrating, but I wasn’t going to quit. I tried to clean my eyes up the best I could and kept going. I wanted to keep it standing but I couldn’t see when he came in to grab me.”
Berg was cut when the fight went to the ground. His vision was compromised and Markham capitalized on the opportunity. In the second round Markham took Berg to the ground and submitted him with a rear-naked choke.
When the ring announcer presented Trickler, who was fighting Boyette, the crowd erupted in cheers, showing that Trickler was obviously a favorite amongst the crowd. Marines gave it their all, but Boyette won by technical knockout. He said understanding his opponent was the key to his success.
“I trained really hard and my game plan was [to take the battle] to the ground,” said Boyette. “I was kind of nervous because [Trickler] is really tall. He’s like six inches taller than I am. I didn’t want him to stand up and punch me all night, so I kept it on the ground.”
It was a fast-paced fight that kept the audience questioning the outcome from the beginning. Both of them stepped in and gave it their all.
“It’s the third time I fought a Marine,” said Boyette. “Marines have proved to be difficult opponents because Marines don’t quit.”
Boyetter understood that Trickler’s standup was strong, so he exploited his weakness.
“The biggest things I’ve learned since I’ve become a fighter is being patient and using technique to overcome a stronger opponent,” said Galvan.
The fighters shook hands and hugged after every fight. It was a display of good sportsmanship and it showed how fighters could be animals during a bout and gentlemen afterward.
“What I like most about fighting are the people,” said Berg. “You meet a lot of fighters that are respectful and professional.”