MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Through the efforts of the Single Marine Program, Marines gathered at Goettge Memorial Field House to watch nine professional fights and meet special guest five-time Ultimate Fighting Championship Champion and UFC Hall of Famer, Randy Couture, aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Sept. 2, 2015.
The program organizes events for Marines to leave the barracks, build camaraderie and improve morale in the Corps. Events like this promote extra-curricular activities by allowing Marines to cheer on and watch Mixed Martial Arts fighters combat each other in an octagon cage.
The fights involved three and four minute rounds where combatants could win by submission, knock-out, technical knock-out or by outlasting the time limit and scoring more hits than their opponent.
The night’s featured fights included: Gabrielle Holloway versus Andria Wawro; Jared Torgeson versus Mitch Whitesel and for the heavyweight championship belt, Leroy Johnson versus Arnold Adams. Couture also announced raffle tickets between the rounds, giving away headphones, televisions, and even a videogame console.
“Most of us took this fight at the last minute and on shorter notice than normal,” said Torgeson. “I love the fact that we can come to a military base and fight, it’s exciting.”
Before the event began, many of the fighters expressed enthusiasm about, “performing for the guys who are fighting for us.” The official fight announcer, Mike Markham, then introduced the fighters to the audience and started the event.
Holloway started slow in her fight against Wawro but made it clear she had a point to prove in her four year long wait for this rematch. Wawro had a reach advantage, which made it more difficult for Holloway to get close to her opponent but Holloway closed that gap and won the match by points.
Torgeson and Whitesel fought long and hard in the cage, each landing devastating blows against each other as the crowd cheered. Fans applauded as Torgeson claimed his victory over Whitesel and won his championship belt.
The final fight of the night put the crowd on the edge of their seats as Johnson emerged from the green corner and Adams from the red.
“Heavyweight fighters tend to hit a little harder,” said Couture. “Fans look to see who is going to land this first shot to end it so it will be interesting to see how it pans out.”
Johnson endured Adam’s attacks and eventually prevailed claiming the heavyweight title and belt.
Fans looking for the one hit K.O. never saw it but still enjoyed exciting fights packed with action.
“Being a fighter, you always have to be ready because you never know when you might be given that opportunity to step up. It’s a lifestyle sport that you constantly need to train and condition. You need to know your weaknesses and strengths and sharpen those areas where you need improvement,” said Couture. “It’s really not that different from being in the military. It’s a similar mindset when you step in the cage; it takes discipline and attention to details to compete in this sport.”
Couture, as an Army veteran, regards his experiences as reason to dedicate part of his time to entertaining and interacting with active-duty service members.
“Any chance I get, I come and hang out with service members, to show them I appreciate what they do,” Couture said. “I try to do as much as I can for the men and women who put [themselves] on the line because when I was in the Army, it was during the Cold War era so we never saw action, and things have changed since then.”