OFFICE HOURS

Monday-Friday

By Appointment

Contact Here

CLASS HOURS

ADDRESS

FIND US

2010 N 7th
Bozeman, MT 59718

Tel: 406-570-0758

  • w-googleplus
  • Twitter Clean
  • w-facebook

© 1998 by MONTANA MIXED MARTIAL ARTS

In The News

Some articles about the gym and our athletes.

WENDY SWENSON, BOZEMAN MONTHLY, AUGUST 2013

 

Walking into any gym can be intimidating, but just the thought of walking into a mixed martial arts (MMA) gym intimidates nearly everyone. What I recently discovered, thanks to Montana Mixed Martial Arts of Bozeman, is that no one should be scared.

At Montana MMA, everyone is invited to participate. The gym is bright and inviting and, believe it or not, the guys are not at all scary or intimidating. In fact, the gym welcomes people of all ages and abilities. There are classes for men, women and children for fitness, as well as self-defense.

Owner Bryan Deats says people shouldn’t be intimidated by coming to the gym. “People train at the gym for fitness, self-defense or because they love the sport,” says Deats. “We have students that range in age from four to their mid-sixties.”

His students echo those statements. “Bryan and the guys at the gym are respectful of other students and their abilities. They will only push you as hard as you want to train,” confirms Joe Walsh, who trains and competes in amateur MMA competitions.

Deats has been involved in martial arts for nearly 30 years and is the head of Flavio Behring Jiu-Jitsu in Montana. Montana MMA started as a club at Montana State University in 1994. In 1998, the gym moved to a garage and, over the years, grew into its current location on North 7th in Bozeman.

People can sign up for Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, striking (boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai), wrestling, women’s self-defense and MMA classes. All of the instructors at Montana MMA are volunteers and any profits raised go directly back into the operation of the gym. Deats appreciates how hard these volunteers work and knows that, without them, the gym wouldn’t be where it is today.

Of course, there is an elite group of athletes who train at the gym to compete in MMA events. The biggest misconception of MMA is that the competitions are just two people trying to beat on each other. Though at varying levels, these men and women are all trained fighters. “There is a strategy and technicality in grappling and striking,” Deats explains. Training for a competition varies for each athlete, but always includes hours of workouts and a healthy diet to make weight. Closer to the fight, competitors start to watch tapes of their opponents and develop a strategy, while pinpointing skills on which to focus. The day of a fight, competitors try to relax before weigh-ins. Two hours out from their fight, athletes start warming up, working up to striking pads and grappling. One hour before the fight, they have their hands taped.

Recently, Montana MMA had two fighters come out victorious at the Great Falls Rumble. I had the chance to sit down with each of them, ask them a little bit about their respective fights and get some insight into the sport.

Adin Leavitt is a recent graduate of Bozeman High School. He has been training at Montana MMA for three years and recently decided to compete before starting college at UC Santa Cruz this fall. Even though Leavitt injured his knee five months before his fight, he made the decision to continue training. Leading up to the fight he increased his training from a few times a week to several intense hours in the gym nearly every day, getting in as many classes as he could, including grappling, striking and sparring. While his preferred style of fighting is stand-up, Leavitt is also comfortable on the ground, which he attributes to his training at Montana MMA. He feels his strongest move is his right roundhouse kick. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The fight was crazy and definitely the most intense thing I’ve ever done,” says Leavitt. His opponent was an experienced boxer with another MMA bout under his belt, but Leavitt managed to end the fight in the first round by submission when the other fighter tapped out after being caught in a triangle (chokehold of the head and arm).

Don’t be fooled by this young man. He may be a trained MMA athlete, whose role models include Muhammad Ali and Anderson Silva, but outside of the gym, Leavitt is a normal Montana teenager who enjoys snowboarding and outdoor recreation. He is also a seasoned traveler, having visited India, Germany, Israel, Mexico and Hawaii. 

Joe Walsh has a bit more experience with MMA competitions, but his fight in Great Falls felt like the first time after being absent from the sport for seven years. Ten months ago, he had the itch to get back in the gym and Deats convinced him to compete in Great Falls. Prior to the fight, Walsh was in the gym for up to three hours a day, five days a week working on his Jiu-Jitsu, striking and grappling skills.

Walsh, the youngest of four, tried other sports in school, but found his niche with wrestling. While his base is Greco-Roman wrestling, he also trains in Judo and Jiu-Jitsu and competes in grappling tournaments. In his spare time, he also coaches wrestling at the gym. What he likes about competing is the one-on-one aspect. “There is no team to rely on,” he says.

Of course, with wrestling as his background, his preferred style of fighting is on the ground. His favorite move is his lateral drop throw. “It’s no secret, I will take you down,” Walsh says with a grin, “but my stand-up is coming along too.” As a result of his training and experience, Walsh took down his opponent in Great Falls in the first round, forcing the other fighter to tap when caught in a RNC (rear naked chokehold).

While his role model may be UFC Hall of Fame fighter Randy Couture (whose seminar he had the opportunity to attend earlier this year), it is a quote by UFC competitor Chael Sonnen that motivates him: “Don’t ever be afraid to fail. If you’re afraid to fail, you’ll miss out on life…”

Leavitt echoes that sentiment. Both athletes feel that in order to be a strong competitor in MMA, you need to have determination and a willingness to try regardless of success.

COMMUNITY SPORTS: REBORN FIGHTER TAKING THE ULTIMATE JOURNEY

BY RYAN AMYS CHR WRITER ONICLE SPORTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PILGRIM BY SUBMISSION IN THE OPENING ROUND. NOW, THE 28-YEAR-OLD MISSOURI NATIVE, WHO HAS CALLED BOZEMAN HOME THE PAST TWO YEARS, IS MORE THAN WILLING TO TEST HIS ABILITY IN PROFESSIONAL ULTIMATE FIGHTING.

HE ADMITS HIS STORY IS SOMEWHAT CLICHÉ, BUT ANDREW RICE HAS TAKEN FULL ADVANTAGE OF ATHLETICS TO TURN HIS LIFE AROUNDHIS PATH TO A 5-1 AMATEUR RECORD IN ULTIMATE FIGHTING HAS INVOLVED YEARS OF OBSTACLES AND DETOURS. BUT NOW THE 145-POUND FEATHERWEIGHT IS PULLING HAIRS TO GET SPONSORSHIPS SO HE CAN TRAVEL TO LAS VEGAS, NEV., TO MATCH UP WITH SOME OF THE BEST.

WHAT BEGAN BY PLACING THREE CONSECUTIVE YEARS AT THE MISSOURI HIGH SCHOOL STATE WRESTLING TOURNAMENT HAS DEVELOPED INTO A COMBATIVE ADDICTION FOR RICE. HE ADDS THAT THIS ADDICTION TOOK THE PLACE OF THE DARK ROAD HE WAS TRAVELING.

“I'M BORN AGAIN AND BACK INTO RELIGION,” RICE SAID. “MORE OR LESS, THIS HELPS ME KEEP MYSELF IN LINE SO I CAN STAY ON THE RIGHT PATH. I WAS DRINKING ALL THE TIME. AND WHEN I SAY I WAS DRINKING, IT WAS HARDCORE. I WAS GETTING INTO FIGHTS EVERY WEEKEND. BUT ONCE I STARTED TRAINING, I GAINED A LOT OF RESPECT BECAUSE I DIDN'T WANT TO DO THAT PARTYING STUFF ANYMORE. IT'S A GOOD THING I FOUND THIS SPORT.”

AFTER HIGH SCHOOL, RICE PLANTED HIS ROOTS IN MIXED MARTIAL ARTS DURING HIS TENURE IN THE MARINE CORPS. HIS KNOWLEDGE OF WRESTLING INCREASED AND OTHER FORMS OF FIGHTING WERE INTRODUCED INTO HIS REPERTOIRE.

“I DON'T KNOW WHY I JOINED THE MARINES. I WANTED TO SERVE MY COUNTRY,” HE SAID. “I KNEW I ALWAYS WANTED TO DO THAT AND TO MAKE SURE SCHOOL WAS PAID SO I COULD HAVE A FUTURE.”

HIS STUDIES IN STUDIO ARTS AND GRAPHIC DESIGN AT MISSOURI SOUTHERN STATE UNIVERSITY WERE PAID FOR, BUT THE WRESTLING AND COMBAT RICE LEARNED IN THE MARINES SET THE STAGE FOR HIS FUTURE GOALS.

FOR ONE YEAR AND A HANDFUL OF MONTHS, RICE HAS BEEN TRAINING AT GALLATIN VALLEY'S MONTANA MIXED MARTIAL ARTS ACADEMY IN BELGRADE.

UNDER THE WATCHFUL EYE OF THE CLUB'S FOUNDER AND RENOWNED KICK BOXER, BRYAN DEATS, RICE HAS

ACHIEVED FIVE VICTORIES THROUGH FIRST-ROUND SUBMISSIONS. THE SINGLE BLEMISH ON RICE'S RECORD WAS THE RESULT OF AN ARM BAR HIS OPPONENT SET IN THE FIRST ULTIMATE FIGHT, FOR WHICH RICE SAID HE WAS NOT PREPARED.

RICE SAID HE NOW SPENDS FIVE OR SIX DAYS A WEEK TRAINING WHEN A FIGHT IS SCHEDULED, BUT FIGHTS FOR HIS FEATHERWEIGHT CLASS AREN'T EASY TO COME BY. AND ONE MIGHT THINK THAT'S A GOOD THING, CONSIDERING RICE HAS A WIFE IN BOZEMAN AND A 4-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER THAT VISITS FROM MISSOURI.

BUT CHELSEE, RICE'S WIFE, ENCOURAGES HER HUSBAND'S PURSUIT OF FIGHTING.

“IT'S SOMETHING HE'S WANTED TO DO FOR A WHILE,” CHELSEE SAID. “IT'S SCARY AT TIMES, BUT HE NEEDS TO DO IT NOW BEFORE WE START A FAMILY. IT'S HIS DREAM, AND I SUPPORT HIM TOTALLY. IT'S HARD TO UNDERSTAND WHY PEOPLE WANT TO GO OUT AND FIGHT, TO GO OUT AND HURT SOMEONE. IT'S HARD TO UNDERSTAND, BUT HE KEEPS TELLING ME IT'S A SPORT.”

AND WITHOUT THIS SPORT, RICE NEVER WOULD HAVE MET HIS WIFE.

WHILE HE WAS COMPETING IN HELENA, CHELSEE WAS WAITING ON RICE AT PERKINS RESTAURANT, AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP STARTED FROM THERE. RICE SAID SHE'S BEEN SUBMERGED IN THE WHOLE FIGHTING THING FROM THE START AND KNOWS HE NEEDS TO COMPETE NOT ONLY FOR HIMSELF, BUT FOR HER AS WELL.

“I'M SICK OF GETTING SCARS AND CAULIFLOWER EAR FOR NO MONEY.” RICE SAID. “PART OF ME GOING TO VEGAS IS TO TEST MYSELF AGAINST THE BEST IN THE WORLD, TO SEE WHERE I STAND. IF IT DOESN'T GO WELL, THEN I COME BACK AND KNOW WHAT I HAVE TO WORK ON, AND I TRAIN HARDER AND GO TO SMALLER SHOWS AND PURSUE THIS WHOLE DEAL THAT WAY.”

RICE'S TRIP TO LAS VEGAS IS NOT SET IN STONE THOUGH.

HE'S NOT CONCERNED ABOUT TAKING TIME OFF FROM ADIMPAKT ADVERTISING AND DESIGN, WHICH IS HIS GRAPHIC DESIGN COMPANY BASED OUT OF HIS HOME. AND HE'S CONFIDENT HE COULD TAKE A WEEK OR TWO OFF FROM HIS DELIVERY JOB FOR FEDEX, BUT RICE AND HIS COACH DEATS ARE CONCERNED WITH SPONSORSHIP MONEY TO MAKE THIS JOURNEY WORK.

WHERE ULTIMATE FIGHTING WILL TAKE RICE IS UNKNOWN, BUT THIS HAND-TO-HAND COMBAT, WHICH IS FOREIGN TO MOST, HAS FILLED A HOLE IN HIS LIFE.

“IT'S LIKE WRESTLING.” RICE SAID. “SOME PEOPLE DON'T UNDERSTAND WHY TWO GUYS WANT TO GET IN THERE AND WRESTLE IN SINGLETS, BUT IT'S MORE THAN THAT. COME FIGHT TIME, IT'S PROVING SOMETHING TO YOURSELF. THE TYPE OF PEOPLE THAT DO THIS SPORT PUSH THEMSELVES IN A DIFFERENT WAY.

“I'M A ROCK CLIMBER, BUT WOULD I EVER CLIMB EVEREST? NO, THOSE GUYS ARE CRAZY. BUT WITH FIGHTING, I JUST LOVE THE THRILL OF HAVING MY HAND RAISED AT THE END, KNOWING I TRAINED THAT HARD AND PUT EVERYTHING ON THE LINE.”

FIGHT NIGHT

BY MIKE KIEFER, CHRONICLE SPORTS WRITER

 

IT'S A MATTER OF NECESSITY FOR BRIAN GHEKIERE TO STEP INTO THE RING AND GO TOE-TO-TOE WITH ANOTHER “ADRENALINE JUNKIE.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ERIK PETERSEN/CHRONICLE RYAN FLAHERTY WORKS ON HIS FIGHT MOVES WITH JERRY PRICE THURSDAY NIGHT AT MONTANA MIXED MARTIAL ARTS IN BOZEMAN. THE GROUP IS HOSTING BOZEMAN IMPACT WHICH FEATURES ULTIMATE FIGHTING, TONIGHT AT THE GALLATIN COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS. “IT KEEPS ME SANE,” GHEKIERE SAID.

THE CHESTER NATIVE STARTED TRAINING AT BOZEMAN'S MONTANA MIXED MARTIAL ARTS SINCE HIS FIRST YEAR AT MONTANA STATE UNIVERSITY AS AN ELEMENTARY EDUCATION MAJOR. HE IS NOW A SENIOR, WHO'S COMPETED THREE TIMES IN ULTIMATE FIGHTING EXHIBITIONS IN HELENA, BUTTE AND SPOKANE.

FINALLY, HE HAS THE CHANCE TO PLAY TO THE HOME CROWD AT THE GALLATIN COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS' HAYNES PAVILION AT 7:30 P.M.

BOZEMAN GETS ITS FIRST TASTE OF MIXED MARTIAL ARTS, ALSO KNOWN AS “ULTIMATE FIGHTING” TONIGHT WITH BOZEMAN IMPACT, 12 BOUTS FEATURING FIGHTERS FROM MONTANA AND NORTH DAKOTA. MOST OF THE LOCAL ATHLETES HAVE ALREADY COMPETED IN ONE OF THE 11 PREVIOUS EVENTS WITH FIGHT FORCE, A LOCAL ULTIMATE FIGHTING PROMOTER.

THE DELAY HAD TO DO WITH FINDING AN ADEQUATE VENUE IN BOZEMAN, NOT A LACK OF INTEREST.

INDEED, FIGHT FORCE ORGANIZERS BELIEVE THAT THE SPORT IS PRIMED TO EXPLODE IN A TOWN LIKE BOZEMAN.

“I'D SAY THAT IT'S ALREADY CAUGHT FIRE,” GHEKIERE SAID, NOTING THAT NINE OF SATURDAY'S 24 COMBATANTS ARE FROM BOZEMAN. “MMA IS SUCH A GROWING SPORT. IT'S FAMILY-ORIENTED, MUCH MORE THAN IT USED TO BE. THERE ARE RULES AND BOUNDARIES. AND YOU KNOW EVERYONE YOU'RE FIGHTING. AFTERWARD, WE'LL BUY EACH OTHER BEERS.”

A SIMILAR EVENT IN HELENA DREW 1,000 PEOPLE AFTER 600 ADVANCE TICKETS WERE SOLD. ORGANIZERS HAVE ALREADY SOLD 500 TICKETS TO TONIGHT'S SHOW, WHICH CAN SEAT ONLY 1,400 PEOPLE.

LOCAL PROMOTER BRYAN DEATS WORRIES THAT HE'LL HAVE TO TURN PEOPLE AWAY.

FIGHT FORCE AND THE LOCAL COMPETITORS ARE TRYING TO MARKET THEIR SPORT AS MORE WHOLESOME AND LEGITIMATE THAN CLUB BOXING MATCHES WHICH ARE MORE IMPROMPTU, HELD EVERY TUESDAY NIGHT AT THE FAIRGROUNDS.

“WE'RE MUCH MORE PROFESSIONAL,” SAID SCOTT WAGERMANN, A VETERAN OF TWO FIGHTS IN MONTANA AND A FORMER MARINE RESERVIST. “THEY TAKE ANYONE OFF THE STREET. WE MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A MINIMUM OF A YEAR'S TRAINING BEFORE YOU STEP INTO THE RING.”

FROM A MILITARY FAMILY, WAGERMANN SPENT HIS HIGH SCHOOL YEARS IN SEATTLE, AND DID TRAINED IN KICKBOXING. HE WAS TAKEN WITH ULTIMATE FIGHTING EVENTUALLY, WHICH HE BELIEVES IS MORE REALISTIC, TEACHING COMPETITORS TO FIGHT ON THE GROUND WITH GRAPPLING AND “SUBMISSION HOLDS.”

THIS FALL, WAGERMANN PLANS TO ENTER GRADUATE SCHOOL FOR PHYSICS AT MSU.

ALL THE PROFESSIONALISM AND STREAMLINING IN THE WORLD WON'T ESCAPE THE FACT THAT ULTIMATE FIGHTING IS A FULL-CONTACT COMBAT SPORT.

“THERE'S GOING TO BE SOME BLOOD INVOLVED, WITHOUT A DOUBT,” WAGERMANN SAID. “HOPEFULLY NOT MINE. BUT I THINK 95 PERCENT OF THE INJURIES ARE WHEN PEOPLE REFUSE TO TAP OUT.”

FOR THOSE WHO WILL BE SEEING ULTIMATE FIGHTING FOR THE FIRST TIME, GHEKIERE SUGGESTED COMING WITH AN OPEN MIND.

“IF YOU DON'T KNOW ANYTHING, JUST WATCH AND LEARN,” HE SAID. “(YOU) SHOULD EXPECT HIGH ENERGY.”

ULTIMATE FIGHTER SHARES HIS SKILLS

BY SCOTT MCMILLION CHRONICLE STAFF WRITER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RUSSELL DETIENNE LIVES TWO VERY DIFFERENT LIVES.

ALTHOUGH HE HAS A DEGREE IN CIVIL ENGINEERING, FOR 14 YEARS HE HAS BEEN A POKER DEALER, USUALLY STARTING WORK AT 6 P.M. AND NEVER KNOWING WHEN HIS SHIFT WILL END. THE JOB ENTAILS BREATHING A LOT OF SECONDHAND SMOKE, WORKING A LOT OF MATH IN YOUR HEAD, AND KEEPING TRACK OF 52 CARDS AND 10 PLAYERS FOR AS LONG AS THE GAME CARRIES ON.

HIS DAY'S WORK MIGHT LAST AN HOUR OR TWO, OR IT COULD RUN UNTIL NOON THE NEXT DAY.

THAT'S HIS JOB. BUT HIS PASSION LIES IN A VERY DIFFERENT AREA: BATTLING OTHER MEN INTO SUBMISSION, AND BEING PUMMELED BY WOMEN.

IT'S NOT AS FUNKY AS IT SOUNDS.

DETIENNE, WHO LOOKS MUCH YOUNGER THAN HIS 38 YEARS, IS AN ENTHUSIAST OF NO HOLDS BARRED FIGHTING.

NHB IS ALSO CALLED ULTIMATE FIGHTING, MULTIPLE MARTIAL ARTS OR VALE TUDO, WHICH IS PORTUGUESE FOR "ANYTHING GOES."

TO BE SUCCESSFUL, CONTESTANTS MUST BE ADEPT, TO ONE DEGREE OR ANOTHER, AT JIU JITSU (USUALLY THE BRAZILIAN VARIETY), BOXING OR KICKBOXING AND WRESTLING.

THERE AREN'T MANY RULES, OTHER THAN THE ONES BANNING GROIN KICKS, EYE GOUGES AND BITING.

"THERE'S PRETTY MUCH NO HEAD BUTTING ANY MORE," DETIENNE SAID.

HE BELIEVES NHB GETS MISCHARACTERIZED AS A "BLOOD SPORT," EVEN THOUGH HE MAINTAINS IT'S SAFER THAN BOXING, WHICH HAS THE GOAL OF KNOCKING PEOPLE OUT COLD.

IN NHB, THE GOAL IS TO ACHIEVE YOUR OPPONENT'S SUBMISSION, LIKE WHEN YOU'VE GOT SOMEBODY IN A TOUGH ARMLOCK, FORCING HIM TO "TAP OUT."

"IT'S A WAY OF CRYING UNCLE," DETIENNE SAID. "I COULD BREAK YOUR ARM, AND WE BOTH KNOW IT. BUT I WON'T."

DOING IT WELL REQUIRES INTENSIVE TRAINING, WHICH DETIENNE AND OTHER LOCAL ENTHUSIASTS PURSUE IN AN EAST BOZEMAN GYMNASIUM THEY CALL THE ULTIMATE SUBMISSION ACADEMY.

THE NAME CAUSES SOME CHUCKLES, SO MOST USERS JUST CALL IT USA, DETIENNE SAID. THE WORD SUBMISSION REFERS TO GRAPPLING HOLDS.

TAKING UP THE SPORT LEAD HIM TO PETER IACAVAZZI, A BLACK BELT IN BRAZILIAN JIU JITSU AND A CERTIFIED INSTRUCTOR IN RAPE-ESCAPE CLASSES.

DETIENNE GOT INTERESTED IN THAT, TOO, AND BECAME INTERESTED IN TEACHING WOMEN HOW TO PROTECT THEMSELVES FROM WOULD-BE RAPISTS.

NOW HE TRAVELS AROUND THE STATE, AND HAS SPREAD HELPFUL KNOWLEDGE TO THOUSANDS OF WOMEN AND GIRLS.

HIS THREE-HOUR CLASS OFFERS TECHNIQUES ON HOW TO FEND OFF AN ATTACKER LONG ENOUGH TO GET TO YOUR FEET AND RUN AWAY.

AT THE END OF THE CLASS, HE LETS THE STUDENTS BEAT ON HIM.

"I PUT ON AN ATTACK SUIT, AND THEY HAVE TO FIGHT ME OFF," HE SAID.

SOME OF THEM ARE REALLY GOOD AT IT, GETTING PAST HIS HELMET AND PADS TO LAND SOME PAINFUL BLOWS.

"I'M USUALLY THE ONE WHO GETS HURT," HE SAID. "THE WORST IS A GOOD SHOT UNDER THE CHIN. AND I'VE TAKEN SOME PRETTY GOOD RIB SHOTS."

DETIENNE SMILES AT THE DICHOTOMY OF HIS TWO LIFESTYLES.

POKER IS SEDENTARY. NHB AND THE RAPE-ESCAPE CLASSES ARE INTENSELY PHYSICAL.

"IT'S TWO DIFFERENT WORLDS," HE SAID. "AND I'VE GOT TWO VERY DISTINCT GROUPS OF FRIENDS."

STILL, HE SEES A COMMON THEME.

BOTH POKER AND MARTIAL ARTS ARE "SOMETHING YOU'LL NEVER MASTER," HE SAID. "YOU CAN STUDY THEM ALL YOUR LIFE." 

 

MIKE BRANDT, STAFF WRITER THE BELGRADE NEWS

 

FIGHTFORCE IS BRINGING ULTIMATE CAGE FIGHTING TO THE BELGRADE SPECIAL EVENTS CENTER SATURDAY NIGHT. ULTIMATE FIGHTING IS ALSO KNOWN AS MIXED MARTIAL ARTS, WHICH COMBINES THE OLYMPIC SPORTS OF BOXING, WRESTLING, JUDO AND TAE-KWON-DO. IT HAS BECOME A POPULAR SPORT IN RECENT YEARS.

 

FIGHTFORCE IS A LOCAL MONTANA PROMOTION WITH 90 PERCENT OF MONEY MADE FROM THE EVENT GOING BACK TO MONTANA AND THE GALLATIN VALLEY AREA. LOCAL NON-PROFIT BEFRIENDERS WILL BE IN CHARGE OF CONCESSIONS TO RAISE MONEY FOR ITS MEMBERS. BOZEMANMMA.COM MARTIAL ARTS CLUB STUDENTS WILL BE RAISING MONEY FOR THEIR SCHOLARSHIP FUND TO HELP KIDS WHO WOULD LIKE TO RECEIVE FREE MARTIAL ARTS TRAINING.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AREA PARTICIPANTS INCLUDE BELGRADE’S TRAVIS OGEN, BOZEMAN’S KEVIN KELSEY, KEVIN KLINE, MATT KOLJONEN, AND CODY QUINN, AND LIVINGSTON’S AMANDA SMIEJA.

THE MARTIAL ARTS CLUB GOT ITS START IN BOZEMAN IN A GARAGE IN 1998 AND HAS SLOWLY GROWN. BRYAN DAVIS, WHO IS THE INSTRUCTOR, RUNS THE SPORT FROM A GYM BASED IN BOZEMAN. THE WORKOUT AREA INCLUDES WARMUP PADS, BOXING BAGS AND A 6-FOOT, SIX-PANEL METAL CAGE, WHICH WILL BE USED SATURDAY NIGHT.

MOST OF THE MEMBERS HAVE BEEN PARTICIPATING FOR A LONG TIME, WHILE OTHERS ARE JUST GETTING STARTED. THIS IS THE SECOND TIME IN TWO YEARS THAT THE EVENT WILL BE HELD LOCALLY. THE FIRST WAS HELD A YEAR AGO AT MONTANA STATE UNIVERSITY.

DAVIS HOPES THE SPORT WILL CONTINUE TO GROW LOCALLY AS WELL AS STATEWIDE.

QUINN IS ONE OF THE NEWCOMERS TO FIGHTFORCE AFTER WRESTLING FOR MUCH OF HIS LIFE.

“I’VE BEEN WRESTLING SINCE I’VE BEEN FIVE-YEARS-OLD. I WRESTLED IN COLLEGE LAST YEAR, THEN MADE A DECISION TO FOCUS ON SCHOOL,” SAID QUINN. “I WANTED TO GO TO MONTANA STATE. BUT WHEN I STOPPED WRESTLING IT JUST DROVE ME CRAZY. I NEEDED TO COMPETE. I WANTED TO GET BACK INTO IT SO LAST YEAR I JUMPED RIGHT IN TO TRAINING FOR THIS.”

QUINN NOTED THERE ARE TWO FOUR-MINUTE ROUNDS AND THE WINNER IS DETERMINED BY SCORECARDS FROM JUDGES AT RING SIDE. NEARLY EVERYTHING IS LEGAL IN THE RING, BUT QUINN DID POINT OUT THAT AN ELBOW OR KNEE TO THE HEAD IS NOT.

QUINN ADDED THAT WHEN HE SIGNED UP FOR THE SPORT HE MADE IT CLEAR THAT HE SERIOUS ABOUT COMPETING.

“I’M EXCITED. IT’S A NEW EXPERIENCE. I’VE BEEN LOOKING FORWARD TO IT A LONG TIME,” HE SAID. “WHEN I STARTED I WANTED TO COMPETE. WHEN I SIGNED UP HERE I TOLD THEM I WANTED TO COMPETE.”

FOR EIGHT-YEAR WRESTLER MATT KOLJONEN, IT’S ALL ABOUT COMPETITION.

“COMPETITION ASPECT OF THE SPORT GOT ME GOING. I ALWAYS LIKE COMPETITION,” HE SAID. “YOU HAVE TO BE SKILLED AT DIFFERENT AREAS. IT’S A GREAT STRESS RELIEVER.”

DAVIS AND THE ATHLETES ARE HOPING SATURDAY NIGHT’S EVENT WILL DRAW NEW FANS TO THE SPORT. AND WITH NEW FANS, THEY HOPE TO SEE THE SPORT GROW.

LAST YEAR’S DEBUT AT MSU DREW FEWER PEOPLE THAN THEY’D HOPED FOR.

“NOT AS BIG AS WE EXPECTED. WE’RE HOPING TO GET MORE THIS TIME,” SAID KOLJONEN. “BRYAN HAS DONE A GREAT JOB WITH THIS.”

KOLJONEN ADDED THAT TRAINING IS TIME CONSUMING, BUT THE FIGHTERS PLAN TO PUT ON A GOOD SHOW.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“WE WORK OUT FIVE, SIX HOURS A WEEK TO GET READY FOR A FIGHT,” HE SAID.

 

SATURDAY’S ACTION WILL FEATURE 12 BOUTS BEGINNING AT 7 P.M. DOORS OPEN AT 6 P.M. ADVANCE TICKETS ARE $20 AND MAY BE PURCHASED AT LEE AND DADS LGA, PITA PIT AND EVERLAST PAINT & BODY. TICKETS AT THE DOOR ARE $25.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT ONLINE AT WWW.FIGHTFORCE.COM.

COMMUNITY SPORTS: KINDERGARTEN KICKER

BY RYAN AMYS CHRONICLE SPORTS WRITER

 

HE WASN’T THINKING ABOUT TEACHING 5-YEAR-OLDS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TRIANGLES AND SQUARES. HE WASN’T CONCERNED WITH LESSON PLANS INVOLVING ADDITION AND SUBTRACTION. EXPLAINING WHEN TO USE CAPITAL AND LOWER-CASE LETTERS WAS THE LAST THING ON HIS MIND.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ERIK PETERSEN/CHRONICLE BOZEMAN’S BRIAN GHEKERIE WARMS UP BEFORE HIS ULTIMATE FIGHTING BOUT SATURDAY NIGHT. GHEKERIE TEACHES KINDERGARTEN IN LIVINGSTON WHEN HE’S NOT FIGHTING. ON SATURDAY NIGHT, BRIAN GHEKERIE WAS NO LONGER A STUDENT TEACHER OF KINDERGARTNERS. HE WAS AN ULTIMATE FIGHTER, LOOKING TO FINISH OUT HIS AMATEUR CAREER IN MIXED MARTIAL ARTS WITH AN UNDEFEATED RECORD.

WHEN THE ANNOUNCER CALLED HIS NAME FOR THE FEATURE BOUT, THE SOLD-OUT CROWD AT KOONTZ ARENA ERUPTED FOR THE HOMETOWN BRAWLER.

GHEKERIE POUNDED FISTS WITH FANS AS HE MADE HIS WAY TO THE RING, AND AFTER HE CRAWLED THROUGH THE ROPES AND INTO THE SPOTLIGHT, HE STOOD IN HIS CORNER WITH HIS HEAD DOWN UNTIL THE BELL SOUNDED. THEN, IT WAS ON.

HE THREW A NUMBER OF KICKS AT HIS OPPONENT STEVEN HELLMAN, FROM ROCK SPRINGS, WYO. HELLMAN COUNTERED GHEKERIE’S ATTACK BY TAKING HIM TO THE GROUND, WHICH WAS A MOVE THAT WORKED IN FAVOR OF GHEKERIE’S EXPERTISE IN JU-JITSU.

EIGHTY SECONDS INTO THE FIGHT, GHEKERIE LOCKED A CHOKEHOLD ON HELLMAN. FIVE SECONDS LATER, THE FIGHT WAS FINISHED, AND 36 HOURS AFTER THAT, GHEKERIE WAS AGAIN INSTRUCTING THE KINDERGARTEN CLASS AT EAST SIDE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL IN LIVINGSTON.

“PEOPLE REALLY STEREOTYPE THIS SPORT,” SAID THE 23-YEAR-OLD GHEKERIE, WHO WILL GRADUATE FROM MONTANA STATE WITH A DEGREE IN ELEMENTARY EDUCATION THIS SPRING. “WE HAVE ALL DIFFERENT TYPES OF GUYS WORKING OUT (AT THE MONTANA MIXED MARTIAL ARTS ACADEMY) WHO ARE IN DIFFERENT PLACE IN THEIR LIVES. MINE HAPPENS TO BE TEACHING KINDERGARTEN.

“IT’S A BROAD SPECTRUM OF PEOPLE WHO COME TOGETHER AND RESPECT EACH OTHER FOR THAT. SURE, THERE ARE QUITE A FEW GUYS WHO COME FROM A BAD SITUATION. BUT FOR THOSE GUYS, IT’S GOOD FOR THEM, BECAUSE THAT KEEPS THEM OUT OF THE TROUBLED SCENE.”

GHEKERIE’S STORY ISN’T ONE OF OVERCOMING THE ODDS OR BOUNCING BACK FROM A DREADFUL PAST. HIS IS ONE OF FINDING A PASSION IN AN UNUSUAL FIELD.

HE SAID HE WASN’T THE MOST ATHLETIC KID AT CHESTER HIGH SCHOOL, LOCATED ON THE HI-LINE OF MONTANA, AND HE EVEN ADMITTED NOT BEING IN THE TOP TIER OF AGILITY IN HIS POCKET-SIZED GRADUATING CLASS OF 19. HE TRIED OUT FOR BASKETBALL AND WRESTLING, BUT NEITHER OF THOSE SPORTS WORKED FOR HIM.

IT WASN’T UNTIL HE BECAME A FRESHMAN AT MSU THAT HE FOUND HIS SPORT. HIS OLDER BROTHER LUKE GHEKERIE, WHO WAS ALREADY LIVING IN BOZEMAN, INTRODUCED HIM TO JU-JITSU, AND SOON THE YOUNGER GHEKERIE WAS SPENDING SIX DAYS A WEEK TRAINING.

“OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL I WEIGHED 180, CAME DOWN HERE AND STARTED THE JU-JITSU THING. SIX MONTHS LATER I STEPPED ON THE SCALE, BECAUSE MY PANTS WEREN’T FITTING, AND I WEIGHED 155,” GHEKERIE SAID. “I WAS TOTALLY AMAZED AT THAT, AND THAT’S WHAT INSPIRED ME TO KEEP DOING IT. IT WAS A TURNING POINT IN MY LIFE. I FINALLY FOUND SOMETHING, MY NICHE, SOMETHING I EXCELLED AT.

“I THINK I’M WAY BETTER OFF THAN WHEN I STARTED. I’M DEFINITELY MORE CONFIDENT IN EVERY ASPECT. I MEAN IN SCHOOL AND AN IN LIFE IN GENERAL, I FEEL MUCH BETTER.”

AFTER TALLYING HIS SEVENTH STRAIGHT VICTORY, ALL BY SUBMISSION, GHEKERIE IS TURNING PRO IN A SPORT THAT BALANCES A FINE LINE WITH SAVAGERY. IT IS A STEP UP ULTIMATE FIGHTING’S LADDER THAT WILL “EARN ME SOME MONEY FOR GETTING PUNCHED IN THE HEAD.”

BUT THAT’S WHAT HE DOES IN HIS SPARE TIME.

GHEKERIE IS A REAL-LIFE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE, WITH HIS DAYTIME HOURS SPENT FINISHING UP HIS FINAL STAGE OF BECOMING A TEACHER, WITH A GOAL OF MENTORING CHILDREN IN GRADES K-3.

“I FIGHT WITH THOSE LITTLE RASCALS DURING THE DAY AND FIGHT WITH BIGGER RASCALS AT NIGHT,” HE SAID, GRINNING.

HE ENJOYS THE IDEA OF BEING A ROLE MODEL TO THE KIDS, AND HE HOPES CHILDREN WILL REMEMBER WHAT A BIG INFLUENCE MR. GHEKERIE MADE ON THEIR LIVES.

AND, ACCORDING TO HIS COLLEAGUES AT EAST SIDE ELEMENTARY, THAT’S A SENSIBLE DESIRE.

“HE JUST HAS A REAL NATURAL INTERACTION WITH THE KIDS,” SAID MICHELLE BOYD, WHO HAS BEEN TEACHING FOR 21 YEARS AND IS IN CHARGE OF THE CLASS IN WHICH GHEKERIE IS STUDENT TEACHING. “THE KIDS TOOK TO HIM RIGHT FROM THE START, AND HE FEELS VERY MUCH AT HOME.

“IT’S VERY REALISTIC FOR HIM TO BECOME A FULL-TIME TEACHER. IF A KINDERGARTEN POSITION OPENED UP TOMORROW, HE COULD WALK RIGHT IN AND DO A GREAT JOB.”

SO FAR GHEKERIE HASN’T RECEIVED ANY GUFF FROM THE TEACHERS OR PARENTS FOR BEING A FIGHTER. HE DOESN’T TALK ABOUT ARMBARS, TRIANGLE CHOKES AND SUPERMAN PUNCHES, AND HE SAID MOST OF HIS CO-WORKERS AND THE PARENTS OF HIS STUDENTS DON’T EVEN KNOW HE’S INVOLVED IN MIXED MARTIAL ARTS.

ALTHOUGH HE KEEPS THAT PART OF HIS LIFE TO HIMSELF, HE UNDERSTANDS WHY HE MIGHT BE KIDDED ABOUT IT. AFTER ALL, HE DOES PUNCH PEOPLE IN HIS FREE TIME.

“AS I SAID BEFORE, THERE ARE A LOT OF STEREOTYPES BEHIND THIS, AND SOME PEOPLE MIGHT WONDER WHY THIS GUY IS TEACHING MY KID. BUT TALK TO ME FIRST, AND I’LL TELL YOU WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT FOR ME.

“OBVIOUSLY, I’M NOT GOING TO CHANGE EVERYBODY’S ATTITUDE ABOUT THIS, WHICH IS FINE I GUESS. BUT HOPEFULLY, THEY’LL UNDERSTAND WHO I AM RATHER THAN WHAT I DO.”

 

RYAN AMYS IS AT RAMYS@DAILYCHRONICLE.COM

ULTIMATE FIGHTERS FIGHTING TO CHANGE IMAGE

BY JEREMY EWAN, CHRONICLE SPORTS WRITER

 

NOBODY BLEEDS AT THE BALLET, BUT WOULD THE BEAUTY BE LOST IF THEY DID?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IF IT WERE STAGED IN A CAGE AND PROMOTED AS A BLOOD-SPORT, THEN THE ANSWER IS PROBABLY YES.

BUT IN THE WORLD OF MARTIAL ARTS, A WORLD BRIMMING WITH RHYTHM AND GRACE, CAN BLOOD AND SAVAGERY COEXIST?

THE ARTISTS SAY YES, AND A BOZEMAN GROUP IS STRIVING TO PROVE IT TO MONTANANS.

BRYAN DEATS, MANAGER OF MONTANA MIXED MARTIAL ARTS ON HAGGERTY LANE, IS TRAINING A GROUP OF FIGHTERS/AMBASSADORS FOR ULTIMATE FIGHTING, A BOOMING SPORT DESPERATE FOR A MORE WHOLESOME IDENTITY.

"I THINK THERE IS A STIGMA WITH THE SPORT, AND A LOT OF IT HAS TO DO WITH THE WAY IT WAS PUBLICIZED IN THE EARLY YEARS AND WHAT GOT IT SO POPULAR," SAID RUSSELL DETIENNE, WHO HAS BEEN INVOLVED IN THE SPORT FOR 10 YEARS. "NOW WE ARE TRYING TO REBUILD AS A WHOLE, AND COME BACK AND MARKET THIS AS A LEGITIMATE SPORT."

THE STIGMA TRICKLED DOWN FROM THE EARLY YEARS OF THE ULTRA-POPULAR ULTIMATE FIGHTING CHAMPIONSHIPS, A VIRTUALLY NO-HOLDS-BARRED BLOODSPORT WHERE COMBATANTS WERE LOCKED IN A CAGE AND FOUGHT UNTIL ONE COULD NO LONGER COMPETE.

RATHER THAN RELYING ON THE ELEGANCE AND STYLE OF SOME OF THE WORLD'S MOST ACCOMPLISHED MARTIAL ARTISTS, THE UFC FLAUNTED SAVAGERY AND BLOODLUST TO A PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING CROWD.

NOW THAT THE SPORT HAS EVOLVED AND EXPANDED TO FRINGE MARKETS LIKE MONTANA, ADVOCATES ARE TRYING TO ELIMINATE AN IMAGE THAT THEY FEEL DEMEANS THEIR SPORT

"YOU GO TO SOME OF THESE EVENTS, EVEN THE UFC ONES, AND NOW YOU GET THE, PARDON ME, NASCAR REDNECK KIND OF CROWDS AND THEY WANT TO SEE THE ACTION, THEY GET DRUNK, AND THEY DON'T REALLY UNDERSTAND WHAT'S GOING ON," DETIENNE SAID. "BUT IF YOU DO A GOOD JOB OF BUSTING YOUR BUTT TO GIVE THEM A GOOD FIGHT, YOU HOPE THAT THEY WILL LEARN SOMETHING ABOUT THE SPORT."

IRONICALLY, THE ULTIMATE FIGHTING SCENE IS STRUGGLING WITH A PROBLEM SIMILAR TO WHAT PLAGUED NASCAR FOR MANY YEARS.

BOTH ARE INTRICATE SPORTS WITH MANY SUBTLETIES THAT ARE EASILY LOST ON NEW SPECTATORS. FANS FOUND IT EASIER TO ROOT FOR THE SPECTACULAR - WRECKS IN RACING AND BLOODY KNOCKOUTS IN FIGHTING - RATHER THAN UNDERSTAND THE ROUTINE.

BUT NASCAR EVENTUALLY GAINED AN EDUCATED AND DEVOTED FAN BASE THAT APPRECIATED THE SPORT'S NUANCES.

MIXED MARTIAL-ART COMBATANTS ARE HOPING TO DO THE SAME.

"WE WANT THEM TO SEE THE ART OF IT," SAID LUKE GHEKIERE, A BOZEMAN FIGHTER ORIGINALLY FROM CHESTER.

THE ART COMES FROM THE MEDLEY OF STYLES AND FORMS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO A FANTASTICALLY COMPLEX SPORT.

DEATS TRAINS FIGHTERS IN JUDO, KICKBOXING AND BRAZILIAN JIU-JITSU. GHEKIERE WAS A HIGH SCHOOL WRESTLER WITH A FLAIR FOR GRAPPLING.

HOLLIS HUGGINS, ANOTHER BOZEMAN FIGHTER, HAS BOXED AND PLAYED IN THE CANADIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE. HE ALSO WON THREE NATIONAL FREESTYLE WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS AND A JUNIOR WORLD TITLE IN GRECO-ROMAN WRESTLING.

HUGGINS SAYS NONE OF THE OTHER SPORTS CAN COMPARE TO THE MIXED MARTIAL ARTS.

"THE NAME 'ULTIMATE FIGHTING' JUST SAYS IT ALL," HE SAID. "IT IS THE ULTIMATE," HE SAID. "IN FOOTBALL YOU HAVE ONE STYLE OF TRAINING, IN WRESTLING YOU HAVE ONE STYLE OF TRAINING, IN BOXING YOU HAVE ONE STYLE, BUT IN THIS YOU ARE DOING EVERYTHING ALL AT ONCE."

HUGGINS IS UNDER CONTRACT FOR THE ALASKA FIGHTING CHALLENGE, A LEAGUE WHERE FIGHTERS CAN EARN A SHOT TO MOVE UP TO THE UFC.

DETIENNE AND GHEKIERE ARE AMATEURS WHO FOUGHT AT A SHOW IN MISSOULA IN JULY. BOTH WON THEIR MATCHES BY SUBMISSION, AND ARE HOPING TO FIGHT AGAIN AT THE NEXT SHOW IN OCTOBER.

AT AGE 38, DETIENNE HAS NO PLANS FOR FUTURE UFC GLORY, BUT HE IS DOING WHAT HE CAN TO PROMOTE THE SPORT LOCALLY.

"I'M OLD ENOUGH NOW THAT I KNOW I'M NOT GOING TO HAVE A CAREER IN IT," DE TIENNE SAID. "BUT I UNDERSTAND THAT WE ARE NOT OUT THERE JUST TO WIN, WE ARE ALSO ENTERTAINMENT."

THE CHALLENGE COMES FROM TRYING TO ENTERTAIN THROUGH THE BEAUTY OF THEIR SPORT, NOT FROM AN APPEAL TO THE LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR - WHICH EARNED UNWANTED ATTENTION OF CONCERNED WATCHDOGS IN THE PAST.

THOUGH A COMBATIVE SPORT CAN'T FUNCTION WITHOUT SOME VIOLENCE, IT IS NOT THE CENTERPIECE OF THEIR BATTLES. THE FIGHTERS INSIST THAT THE PREPARATION IT TAKES TO MASTER THE VARIED TECHNIQUES IS ACTUALLY MORE DEMANDING THAN THE FIGHTS.

"YOU TRAIN HARD FOR SIX MONTHS AND YOU ARE GETTING ALL OF THAT PUNISHMENT, BUT THE FIGHT IS MAYBE 10 MINUTES LONG," GHEKIERE SAID. "THE ABUSE YOU TAKE IS IN PRACTICE. THE FIGHT IS THE EASY PART."

EFFORTS TO MINIMIZE THE BRUTALITY HAVE HAD LIMITED SUCCESS. FIGHTERS USED TO GO BARE-HANDED, BUT GLOVES WERE INTRODUCED TO PROTECT FIGHTERS.

DETIENNE SAYS THAT SUCH ATTEMPTS, THOUGH WELL-MEANING, ARE OFTEN MISGUIDED.

"GLOVES PROTECT YOUR FIST, BUT THEY DON'T PROTECT YOUR HEAD," HE SAID.

DETIENNE AND GHEKIERE BOTH ARGUE THAT BARE-KNUCKLE FIGHTS WERE PROBABLY SAFER. WITHOUT THE HAND PROTECTION, FIGHTERS WEREN'T ABLE TO THROW AS MANY PUNCHES AND THEY WEREN'T AS FIERCE.

NOW THEY FEAR THAT GLOVES WILL INTRODUCE THE SORT OF HEAD TRAUMA PROBLEMS THAT HAVE PLAGUED BOXING.

BUT AS THE SPORT SIFTS THROUGH THOSE TYPES OF DETAILS, FIGHTERS REMAIN OPTIMISTIC THAT THE FINER POINTS OF THE SPORT WILL EVENTUALLY LURE FANS.

"YOU LOOK AT IT ON TV, AND EVERYBODY SAYS IT IS SO BRUTAL, BUT IT IS ACTUALLY REALLY GRACEFUL WITH THE MOVES THAT YOU USE," HUGGINS SAID. "IT'S JUST THE PAIN THAT GOES WITH THE FINISHING PART OF THE MOVES THAT ISN'T GRACEFUL." 

 

COMMUNITY SPORTS: EX-BOBCAT'S ADVENTURE LEADS TO IFL CHAMPIONSHIP BELT

BY JIM CNOCKAERT CHRONICLE SPORTS WRITER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ALEX SCHOENAUER MIGHT BEST DESCRIBE HIS LIFE AS A NEVER-ENDING SEARCH FOR THE NEXT BIG ADRENALIN RUSH.

HE'S ALWAYS BEEN ABLE TO FIND ONE, WHETHER IT WAS PLAYING FOOTBALL AT MONTANA STATE, SKIPPERING A 96-FOOT YACHT UP AND DOWN THE PACIFIC COAST OR HUNTING RATTLESNAKES AROUND ENNIS (WHICH HE STILL DOES ANY TIME HE'S BACK IN MONTANA).

THESE DAYS, HE GETS THAT RUSH TRAINING FOR AND COMPETING IN THE INTERNATIONAL FIGHT LEAGUE, A PROFESSIONAL MIXED MARTIAL ARTS LEAGUE BASED IN 12 CITIES, INCLUDING NEW YORK, TORONTO, CHICAGO AND TOKYO. SCHOENAUER, WHO LIVES AND TRAINS IN LAS VEGAS, IS THE LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT FOR THE LOS ANGELES ANACONDAS.

RANKED SECOND AT HIS WEIGHT CLASS, HE WILL FIGHT FOR THE LEAGUE'S LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE SATURDAY DURING THE IFL GRAND PRIX SEMIFINALS AT THE SEARS CENTRE IN CHICAGO. HIS OPPONENT IS UNBEATEN AND TOP-RANKED VLADIMIR MATYUSHENKO, A BELARUS NATIVE WHO COMPETES FOR THE TOKYO SABRES.

THE CHAMPIONSHIP BOUT IN THIS WEIGHT CLASS IS BEING CONTESTED AT THIS EVENT BECAUSE THREE FIGHTERS WERE FORCED TO WITHDRAW BECAUSE OF INJURIES. THE GRAND PRIX CHAMPIONSHIP IN THE OTHER WEIGHT CLASSES IS SCHEDULED IN LATE DECEMBER.

MIXED MARTIAL ARTS IS A SPORT THAT COMBINES SUCH DISCIPLINES AS WRESTLING, BOXING, KICK BOXING, JIU JITSU, KARATE, JUDO AND MUAY THAI. IFL BOUTS ARE CONTESTED IN A BOXING RING, AND A FIGHTER CAN WIN BY SUBMISSION, KNOCKOUT, TKO OR DECISION.

BRYAN DEATS, WHO OWNS USA BOZEMAN/MONTANA MIXED MARTIAL ARTS, WORKED OUT WITH AND HELPED TO TRAIN SCHOENAUER WHEN THE TWO WERE MSU STUDENTS, AND THE TWO REMAIN BEST FRIENDS. DEATS SAID SCHOENAUER, WHO KNEW LITTLE ABOUT MIXED MARTIAL ARTS WHEN HE EARNED A SPOT ON THE INAUGURAL SEASON OF THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER IN 2004, SAID HIS FRIEND HAS CLIMBED QUICKLY IN THE SPORT BECAUSE HE HAS WORKED HARD TO BECOME WELL-ROUNDED.

BECAUSE DEATS' BACKGROUND IS IN KICK BOXING AND THAI BOXING, SCHOENAUER RELIED HEAVILY ON THOSE SKILLS AT FIRST, AND HE WON HIS EARLY BOUTS BY KNOCKOUT. HE HAS SINCE TRAINED IN JIU JITSU, AMONG OTHER DISCIPLINES, AND THAT'S ENABLED HIM TO WIN HALF HIS BOUTS BY SUBMISSION AND THE OTHER HALF BY KNOCKOUTS.

“IT'S BEEN OF HUGE BENEFIT TO HIM TO TRAIN IN ALL STYLES,” DEATS SAID. “EVEN WITH OUR GUYS HERE. WE EXPOSE THEM TO EVERYTHING.”

IN A SPORT WHERE JUST ABOUT ANYTHING SHORT OF EYE-GOUGING, HAIR-PULLING AND GROIN-KICKING GOES, SCHOENAUER SAID HAVING A VARIETY OF SKILLS ENABLES HIM TO ATTACK AN OPPONENT'S WEAKNESS.

“IF A GUY DOESN'T KNOW JIU JITSU, I'M GOING TO TRY TO TAKE HIM DOWN AND GO FOR A SUBMISSION,” HE SAID. “IF I'M FIGHTING A GUY WHO DOESN'T HAVE GREAT BOXING SKILLS, THEN I'M GOING TO TRY TO KEEP HIM ON HIS FEET TO BOX.”

SCHOENAUER, 29, ADMITS HE HAS AN ADVENTUROUS SIDE, TO WHICH MIXED MARTIAL ARTS AND THE IFL APPEAL, AND HE IS ALWAYS LOOKING FOR WAYS TO SATISFY IT. AS FAR AS HE'S CONCERNED, THE MORE RISK, THE BETTER HE LIKES IT.

HE WAS 15 WHEN HE LEFT HIS NATIVE ARGENTINA TO GO TO SCHOOL IN THE UNITED STATES, SO HE COULD LEARN TO READ AND WRITE IN ENGLISH. HE MOVED TO IDAHO, WHERE HIS GRANDFATHER WORKED ON A DUDE RANCH. HE WORKED THERE FOR A TIME, TOO, BEFORE THE RANCH'S OWNER, BILL SHIELDS, INVITED HIM TO MOVE IN WITH HIS FAMILY IN YAKIMA, WASH., AND GO TO SCHOOL THERE. HE EARNED STRAIGHT A'S IN HIS CLASSES.

HE TRIED AS MANY SPORTS AS HE COULD IN YAKIMA, BUT HE LIKED FOOTBALL BEST BECAUSE HE ENJOYED THE CONTACT.

“I DIDN'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE SPORT WHEN I FIRST TRIED IT, BUT I CREATED A BIG CHAOS ANY TIME I WOULD GO INTO THE GAME,” HE SAID.

SCHOENAUER ENROLLED AT MONTANA STATE TO STUDY ENGINEERING, BUT HE LIKED THE MANY OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES THE SURROUNDING AREA OFFERED, INCLUDING HUNTING, FISHING AND SNOWBOARDING. HE PLAYED ON MSU'S RUGBY CLUB TEAM WHEN HE FIRST GOT TO BOZEMAN, THEN WALKED ON TO THE FOOTBALL TEAM FOR TWO SEASONS. HE SPANNED THE TRANSITION FROM HEAD COACHES CLIFF HYSELL TO MIKE KRAMER, AND HE PLAYED A LITTLE AS A LINEBACKER AND A DEFENSIVE END.

ARMED WITH A DEGREE IN INDUSTRIAL ENGINEERING, SCHOENAUER WORKED BRIEFLY FOR A MANUFACTURING FIRM IN IDAHO BEFORE HIS ADVENTUROUS SIDE KICKED IN AGAIN. HE HAD GROWN UP AROUND BOATS IN ARGENTINA, AND FOR A TIME IN HIGH SCHOOL HE HAD WORKED A SUMMER JOB AS A FISHING GUIDE IN ALASKA. SO, WHEN SHIELDS PURCHASED A 96-FOOT YACHT, HE ASKED SCHOENAUER IF HE WANTED A JOB AS ITS SKIPPER. SCHOENAUER TRAINED AT THE UNITED STATES COAST GUARD CAPTAINS SCHOOL TO EARN A LICENSE TO PILOT 100-TON CRAFT IN INTERNATIONAL WATERS, AND HE TOOK THE BOAT FROM SEATTLE TO ALASKA, THEN DOWN TO MEXICO AND BACK.

HE EVENTUALLY RETURNED TO BOZEMAN TO TRAIN IN MIXED MARTIAL ARTS, AND DEATS HELPED HIM PUT TOGETHER AN AUDITION TAPE FOR THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER SHOW. THE TWO DECIDED TO GO FOR LAUGHS TO CATCH THE ATTENTION OF PROGRAM DIRECTORS, SO TAPE SHOWED SCHOENAUER BEING BEATEN UP BY A BABY. THOUGH HE HAD LITTLE MIXED MARTIAL ARTS EXPERIENCE, HE MADE THE SHOW.

THE EXPERIENCE CONVINCED SCHOENAUER TO DEVOTE HIMSELF FULL-TIME TO MIXED MARTIAL ARTS, AND HE MOVED TO LAS VEGAS TO TRAIN. HE DECIDED TO APPROACH HIS TRAINING IN SIX-MONTH INCREMENTS: IF THINGS WERE GOING WELL, HE'D STICK WITH IT; IF NOT, HE'D MOVE ON TO SOMETHING ELSE. HE'S BEEN AT IT SINCE 2004, AND HIS LAS VEGAS CONNECTIONS HELPED TO LAND HIM AN IFL ROSTER SPOT.

“I GUESS YOU COULD SAY IT'S KIND OF NICHE,” SCHOENAUER SAID. “I'M ALWAYS LOOKING FOR THINGS I CAN DO THAT WILL CHALLENGE ME AND WHERE I WILL BE HAPPY. I'M ENJOYING WHAT I'M DOING, SO I'M STICKING WITH IT.”

NOT LONG AFTER SCHOENAUER MOVED TO WASHINGTON, SOME FRIENDS ASKED HIM TO ACCOMPANY THEM ON A RATTLESNAKE HUNT. THE THOUGHT OF IT SCARED THE HECK OUT OF HIM, BUT HIS ADVENTUROUS SIDE AGAIN KICKED IN. THE FIRST TIME HE WENT, HE BROUGHT ALONG A GUN TO SHOOT THE SNAKES. WITH EXPERIENCE, HE LEARNED HOW TO CAPTURE THEM.

AFTER HE MOVED TO MONTANA, HE WAS THE ONE INVITING FRIENDS TO JOIN HIM. SOME SAID NO, BUT THOSE WHO AGREED TO COME OUT ONCE GOT HOOKED, JUST AS HE DID. HE GOES SNAKE HUNTING ANY TIME HE GETS BACK TO MONTANA.

“IT'S ONE OF THOSE THINGS THAT GETS THE ADRENALIN GOING,” HE SAID. “IT'S DANGEROUS, BUT IT'S FUN AT THE SAME TIME.”

IN A RECENT ARTICLE ABOUT HIS ASCENDANCE IN THE WORLD OF MIXED MARTIAL ARTS, SCHOENAUER LIKENED RATTLESNAKE HUNTING TO FIGHTING. THAT SIMILARITY, HE SAID, KEEPS HIM COMING BACK TO BOTH.

“THE ADRENALIN, THE ACTION, THE UNKNOWN ABOUT WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN ...,” HE SAID. “YOU HAVE TO PUT IT ALL OUT THERE AND SEE. TO ME, THAT'S INCREDIBLE.”