JBPHH patrons meet, spar with MMA stars

Bellator MMA fighter, and UFC Hall of Famer, Royce Gracie demonstrates with participant Archie Blair, of Blytheville, Arkansas, on fighting techniques, Dec. 12. The Bellator MMA representatives visited JBPHH as a part of a multi-day, multi-event partnership with the United Service Organizations (USO) for “Bellator and USO Present: Salute the Troops.” Photos by MC2 Jessica O. Blackwell

Reid Tokeshi

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Morale, Welfare and Recreation

The crowd lined up early hoping for a chance to meet and, for a select group, get training from some of the biggest names in mixed martial arts.

United Services Organization (USO) brought stars from the world of Bellator MMA to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for a clinic and meet and greet at the JBPHH Fitness Center Dec. 12.

Bellator MMA fighter Josh Thomson demonstrates a fighting technique for service members and guests.

Dozens signed up to take part in the clinic conducted by MMA stars like Josh Thomson, Douglas Lima, “Big John” McCarthy, Chael Sonnen and more. Others were excited to meet former football star (and MMA practitioner himself) Herschel Walker.

One person that many were particularly interested in was Brazilian jiu jitsu legend Royce Gracie, who helped bring mixed martial arts into the limelight and created the explosion of the sport.

Bellator MMA referee, “Big” John McCarthy meets Yeoman 2nd Class Jusuf Jenkins, of Allendale, South Carolina, during a meet-and-greet.

Participants literally hit the mat, practicing moves demonstrated and taught by the elite athletes. The men and women learned techniques such as how to take an opponent to the ground, what errors to avoid and how to gain an advantage.

Those on the sidelines had their phones out, documenting the experience for their friends and family.

Bellator MMA fighter, and UFC Hall of Famer, Royce Gracie, far right, and “Big” John McCarthy, MMA referee, far left, instruct Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 2nd Class Matthew Hahnrauch and his partner, on fighting techniques.

At the conclusion of the clinic, all the stars stuck around to meet the fans. Lines formed around each as photos were taken, autographs were signed and questions were answered. One fan got his wish as he got a photo of himself as the victim of a jiu jitsu move courtesy of Gracie.

The clinic and meet and greet was part of an itinerary of activities by Bellator. The celebrities also visited commands prior to the clinic, while on Friday, Dec. 14, an MMA card is happening in honor of the military. Free tickets were distributed by the USO during the clinic.

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Category: Life & Leisure