Eagle County firefighters fight for a good cause | VailDaily.com

Eagle County firefighters fight for a good cause

Zach Atencio, a fire fighter with the Eagle fire department, prepares to unload a right hand in the Xtreme Cage Wars. The mixed martial arts bouts pitted fire fighters against police officers in a benefit for their injured colleagues.

DENVER, Colorado – Josh Eaton is one of the only people in this spiral arm of the universe to smack a cop without catching felony.

Eaton and Zach Atencio, two local firefighters, fought in Friday’s Xtreme Cage Wars mixed martial arts bouts in Denver.

It was cops versus fire fighters, and if you get distracted by the ring girls calendar contest, you’ll need a more than a beer to wash down that knuckle sandwich.

And because the benefit for injured firefighters and police, it has every element of great entertainment: Sex, violence and tax deductions for a noble cause.

Promoter Greg Miller, a 19-year police veteran, created Xtreme Cage Wars and the XCW Foundation to give the money away.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way. That’s why I decided to get involved,” Atencio said.

In mixed martial arts fights, just about anything goes. Fighters wear those small gloves and when you get hit with one of those, you stay hit.

“There’s so much action. It’s obvious why these are so popular,” Miller said.

Eaton, with the Vail fire department, won the main event against Denver police officer James Burton. The championship belt for the 155-pound class stays here in Eagle County.

Eaton, an expert in jiu jitsu, threw a choke hold on Burton in the first round. They didn’t need a second round; Burton tapped out, which means he gave up before he passed out.

Atencio, with the Eagle fire department, squared off against Denver firefighter John Larson in the first bout for both fighters.

They both train with Inyodo Martial Arts.

One of Atencio’s lieutenants saw the event last year and thought it looked like it would be lots of fun if someone else stepped into that cage. He immediately thought of Atencio.

Atencio didn’t think about much of anything except how much he wanted to try it. In less time than it takes Zach to drill his right heel into your left ear (which is awfully darned fast) the promoter said “Yes, please!”

“When I found I had the chance to do this, I jumped at it,” Atencio said. “I cannot be more excited, and it’s all for a great cause.”

Mixed martial arts bouts are three rounds of three minutes each, a nine minute fight.

“We’re fire fighters, we’re not afraid of anything. This is our idea of fun,” Atencio said.

Greg Miller is a big ultimate fighting fan and wanted to do a benefit for police and fire fighters. He took out a line of credit, sold the place out, raised a bunch of money to give away and said “yes” when people told him he should keep doing it.

“This is a great event for Greg,” Eaton said laughing. “He doesn’t get punched in the face at all.”