MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- It takes place in an octagon shaped cage, incorporating boxing, kick boxing, wrestling and as many martial-art styles you can think of. This is the violent world of Mixed Martial Arts cage fighting.
Growing along with the popularity of MMA is George Lockhart an MMA enthusiast and a cryptological analyst for Radio Recon Platoon, 2nd Radio Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force.
Currently ranked 19th in the International Sport Combat Federation, Lockhart considers ISCF, “one level short of the world famous Ultimate Fighting Championship and World Extreme Cagefighting.”
The ISCF will soon be a stepping stone in Lockhart’s career, leading him to his next fight at the Cage Inferno in Louisville, Ky., July 21.
After this fight, Lockhart will be qualified for his first WEC challenge. It will be against Matt Major in Las Vegas this September and televised on the Versus Channel.
With his increasing success, Lockhart’s background may be surprising — growing up in the small town of Williams, Ariz. and his down-to-earth Christian beliefs play a large role in his achievements, Lockhart explained.
“As a kid, I thought fighting was just part of being a man,” said Lockhart. “I thought every kid wanted to be the best fighter and a Marine.”
Lockhart’s introduction to “constructive fighting” began at the age of 16 after getting into a fight with a professional kick boxer, he explained. Impressed with Lockhart’s abilities the kick boxer decided to introduce Lockhart to some professional trainers.
During his two years of training, Lockhart participated in amateur cage fighting competitions.
“My first professional fight was at the age of 18 against Edwin “Baby face” Dewees, which I lost,” said Lockhart.
Soon after the loss, Lockhart’s passage to the Marine Corps began.
“I have a tendency to make irrational decisions when I lose, so that’s when I joined the Marine Corps,” said Lockhart. “However, it’s probably the best decision I ever made.”
Since enlisting in the Marine Corps in 2002, Lockhart has gained the respect of his superiors and peers, and his physical and intellectual abilities have cemented his stature as an outstanding Marine, said Mike Brown, Lockhart’s platoon sergeant.
“I have never met anyone with such dedication. Not only is he dedicated to fighting for sport, but he is also dedicated to fighting for our country,” said Brown.
Lockhart not only sweats in the cage but also in the Corps.
Enduring the Radio Battalion’s screening process for Radio Reconnaissance Platoon was one of the most difficult things of his career, he explained.
“At the time I went through the screening it was a three-day process,” said Lockhart.
The first day consisted of a physical fitness test; completing the obstacle course twice in five minutes, 550 meters worth of various swimming techniques, and a six mile rifle run. The next two days consisted of a 40 mile land navigation exercise while carrying an 80 pound back pack, he explained.
After making it through the screening there is a five week Radio Reconnaissance indoctrination program. After that, jump school and Survival Evasion Resistance and EscapeSchool, he continued.
Putting his training to work, Lockhart has deployed both as part of a Marine Expeditionary Unit and with 2nd Radio Battalion forward element. His tour in Iraq included missions attached to Navy Seals and other special forces.
During that deployment Lockhart’s four-man-team was instrumental in apprehending more than 200 suspected insurgents, in which 20 turned out to be high value, said Lockhart.
Although Lockhart’s journey as a Marine was successful, his journey competing in fights was at a crossroads, he explained.
There was no opposition to his competing until his first duty station with 2nd Radio Battalion, said Lockhart.
The commanding officer at the time strongly opposed his fighting, therefore ordered Lockhart not to compete, he continued.
“Competing at this level is the best way to test your abilities, strength and faith.” said Lockhart. “Fighting has never interfered with my Marine Corps schedule. I always fought on my own leave time and I never missed work as a result of an injury.”
However, since Lockhart fought against his command’s order, he was charged with article 92 (failure to obey order or regulation) and not recommended for promotion.
There is currently a new commanding officer of 2nd Radio Battalion, who fully supports Lockhart’s fighting, so much so, the commander authorized Permissive Temporary Assignment Duty for him to compete and recently attempted to grant a 72-hour liberty for anyone attending his fight, but due to logistic complications it was not possible.
“Lockhart is what I would consider a ‘quiet professional.’ He comes across as a confident but humble, respectful young man,” said Lt. Col. Sean McBride, commanding officer of 2nd Radio Battalion.
“Unless someone else told you, you would never know that he is very proficient in his military occupational specialty or a champion mixed martial artist,” continued McBride. “I’ve never once heard him brag about his accomplishments. I’m just glad I had him on my team.”
Because of these proven fighting abilities, the Marine Corps has come to recognize the potential for Lockhart to contribute towards the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, said Lockhart.
Lockhart has accepted a guaranteed contract to attend the Martial Arts Instructor Trainer course with a $30,000 bonus. Upon completion the course he will be Instructing MCMAP to new officers in Quantico, Va.
Recon, cage fighter and soon to be MCMAP instructor - how does Lockhart do it?
“I train three times a day, six days a week which consists of a cardio work-out in the early morning, weightlifting late morning and sparring in the evening,” said Lockhart. “Sparring is the most important, because the only way to get better at fighting is to -fight!”
Lockhart’s style of fighting incorporates modified styles of Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai. The techniques involve wrestling, grappling, striking, takedowns, sprawl-and-brawl and ground-and-pound.
“Ground-and-pound is my favorite!” exclaimed Lockhart.
Lockhart currently has seven wins and two losses as a professional fighter. He mainly fights in the middle-weight class (max weight of 185 pounds), but has fought in the light heavy-weight class (186 to 205 pounds).
“I want to be the world champion one day but that goal is not my main drive, I’m just happy competing,” he concluded.
For more information on Lockhart and other fighters, visit www.iscfmma.com.