The Ottumwa Courier


November 16, 2009

Welcome to the cage: MMA a new form of entertainment drawing interest in Ottumwa

OTTUMWA — While Mixed Martial Arts is a relatively new spectator sport for mainstream Ottumwa audiences, supporters say Mixed Martial Arts is starting to draw more and more positive attention.

The marquee might have been considered odd for a town in Iowa. One Bridge View Center event featured a nationally known jazz pianist praised for his smooth vocals, while the other side of the center offered fight fans the rowdy excitement of “Throwdown in O-Town: The November to Dismember...”

One estimate said at least 600 spectators bought tickets for the MMA fights. Some fans said they attended because they knew someone who was competing Saturday.

“I had a couple of buddies fight,” said Jeremy Moore of Ottumwa.

Seeing the incredible conditioning of the MMA fighters has Moore thinking about training.

“Our family came to watch, too,” added Brittany Panko, who was standing by Moore during an intermission. “That, and it gives us older teenagers something else to do in Ottumwa.”

“Our friends are fighting,” said Vinnie Lathrop of Ottumwa, who was also getting some air outside between fights. “I’m just glad we have something to do that we hadn’t had before.”

“It might be the beginning of something,” added Fred Lonsdale, Ottumwa. “Some of these guys are already getting offers to fight [in other places] based on what they’ve done in Ottumwa.”

He said he likes to see “the skills” fighters bring to the ring: Boxing, wrestling, Asian martial arts or a combination of styles are all allowed inside “The Cage.”

In the first bout that went all three rounds Saturday night, the two fighters concentrated on boxing and wrestling.

Though it wasn’t the headline fight, one spectator watching from ringside called the match between Ethan Jeffries of Bloomington, Ill., and Mikey Chrisman of Ottumwa the “fight of the night.”

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