Bring back the Ring of Fire |

Bring back the Ring of Fire

Daily file photoIan CroppCroppaganda

Just about everybody at Saturday’s Ring of Fire mixed martial arts fighting championship at Dobson loved the show – even the guys who lost their matches.It was a huge success by any measure, and one of the most entertaining sporting events to come the area this winter.And it dispelled the myth that ultimate fighting is just a bunch of thugs trying to kill each other.Before the fight started, a local martial arts school from Edwards gave an exhibition on stage, its participants showcasing their skills in self defense while energizing the crowd.

Many of the fighters in the ensuing program started out in the martial arts like these children. Again, they are not blood-thirsty brawlers who just look for a fight.There may have been blood and knockouts, but as the competitors can attest, it’s not about tearing your opponents’ head off. It’s about excelling in your sport.I beg your pardonI had the chance to catch up with some of the fighters and their trainers the night before the event at the weigh-in and then again, before the fight. They were polite, thoughtful and more than willing to chat with people about their sport.They had plenty of respect for me, but I was in awe of these athletes who trained as hard as they did and competed without getting paid.

What struck me the most, however, was how friendly the competitors were with each other outside the ring. When the final bell rang to end the fight, they embraced, but the camaraderie didn’t end there. After the fight, the winners complimented their opponents and even met together to discuss the fight in the same locker room. (Can you imagine other pro teams doing this often?)And I know their families are supportive, as one fighter’s mom sent me an e-mail telling me she has two other sons who are rising in the ranks.Pure entertainmentAt $25 a seat, the show was well worth the price of admission. There were 10 fights on the evening, with one women’s bout of kickboxing. And there was everything you’d expect in a high-class fight: food, beer and girls to hold the cards with the round numbers.

And you could be sure Don King was not the promoter, as the athletes were actually treated well.The only thing I didn’t like about the evening was that I had to leave early and didn’t get to see the main event. So maybe I’m being selfish, or just sensible when I say we should host the Ring of Fire again.It’s more exciting than Pay-Per-View boxing, less expensive and live.And like one of the fighters told me, boxing gloves have too much padding.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14631, or, Colorado

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