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Home : News : News
NEWS | March 28, 2013

UFC fighters bring sport to JBSA service members, families

By Robert Goetz Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs

A quintet of Ultimate Fighting Championship competitors brought the excitement and intensity of mixed martial arts to Joint Base San Antonio this month.

The five fighters - Shane Del Rosario, Ian "Uncle Creepy" McCall, Francisco Rivera, Giva "The Arm Collector" Santana and Jeremy "Lil' Heathen" Stephens - displayed the techniques that combine elements of boxing, wrestling, jujitsu, tae kwon do and other disciplines during demonstrations at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, JBSA-Randolph and JBSA-Lackland March 14-16. Their visit concluded with an autograph session and the viewing of a televised UFC match at Lackland's Skylark Community Center.

The demonstrations were as much an educational experience for the fighters as they were for the active-duty members who watched them and talked to them.

"We learn a lot from these guys, so we want to give back as much as possible," McCall, a UFC flyweight, said. "It's good motivation for us."

Santana, a middleweight who grew up in Brazil, said he enjoyed interacting with active-duty members.

"I'm learning a lot from them," he said. "It gives purpose to what we're doing."

Rivera, who competes in the bantamweight category, called the visit to JBSA "a great opportunity" for the fighters. He drew a parallel between basic military trainees and the fighters after witnessing a BMT graduation March 15 at Lackland.

"It's definitely a different experience, but in some ways it's similar to our training, except they're younger," he said.

The fighters, who live and train in Orange County, Calif., have varied backgrounds that prepared them for UFC competition. For instance, McCall was a wrestler in college and Santana's experience is in jujitsu.

"I started jujitsu in Brazil more than 20 years ago," he said.

The fighters gave demonstrations at the Fitness Center on the Medical Education and Training Campus at Fort Sam Houston, the Rambler Fitness Center at Randolph, the Combatives Lab at Lackland and the Skylark Center at Lackland. Active-duty members dominated the audiences at Fort Sam Houston and Lackland, but families were a big presence at Randolph, according to Abbie Pollard, Skylark and Kisling Community Centers manager.

"They had a real blast with the families," she said. "The fighters showed participants floor work, blocking work and take-downs. They also talked about their careers in the UFC, their wins and losses and what it's like to be in the octagon." The octagon is the eight-sided mat and cage where UFC fights take place.

The fighters' visit to JBSA was hosted by the Single Airman Initiative, which is endorsed by the chief master sergeant of the Air Force, administered by Headquarters Air Force Services Agency and operated by force support squadrons, Pollard said.

"This initiative provides programs, classes and equipment to our single military members at no cost to them," she said.

The UFC demonstrations honor one of single Airmen's most common requests, Pollard said.

"We went to single military members and asked them what they wanted," she said. "One of the biggest things was a UFC pay-per-view event."

UFC fighters first came to Lackland in October 2011, followed by a visit in November, Pollard said. Their demonstrations are gaining momentum.

"Other bases are hearing about what we're doing," she said. "They're excited that UFC fighters are willing to come here and spend time with the troops."