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Rage in a cage
Area fighters face off in mixed martial arts meet
mma 9 es
Will Greary tries to pin Matt Mullis during the fourth fight Saturday night at Lakeview Center in Dawsonville. Greary won the match. - photo by Emily Saunders
DAWSONVILLE — Fight night came back for round two.  

The Night of the Gladiators mixed martial arts amateur tournament made its second annual appearance at Lakeview Center Saturday night, where more than 300 fans of the sport gathered to watch 22 fighters test their hand-to-hand combat skills against one another.

Chris Barrett, a licensed promoter for the Georgia Athletic and Entertainment Commission, said the 11 bouts were conducted in accordance to Ultimate Fighting Championship rules, lasting up to 15 minutes in three intense five-minute rounds.

Fighters showcased a wide variety of fighting styles and techniques, including everything from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and kickboxing to traditional techniques such as boxing and wrestling.

“In Ultimate Fighting and mixed martial arts, it’s really about using whatever techniques you have at your disposal to beat your opponent,” said Barrett, adding that the increasing popularity of UFC and mixed martial arts is likely due to the greater freedom competitors have in the fights, combined with the increased intensity of having only three five-minute rounds.

The competitors at Night of the Gladiators primarily hailed from nearby counties such as Forsyth, Dawson and Lumpkin, but others came from as far away as Florida.

All were competing for a chance to improve their amateur records, in hopes of breaking into the professional mixed martial arts industry.

Chad Armstrong, a 20-year-old mixed martial artist from Lumpkin, lost by split decision in his bout with Destin Couch of Duluth.

“It was a close match and my first loss on record, which is why I want a rematch as soon as possible. I know I can win,” said Armstrong, who has trained to fight since the age of 12.

Armstrong’s brother, Eric, also lost his match against opponent Jared Bracket.

Forsyth’s Matt Mullis lost to Dawson’s Will Greary by split decision while Robert Ward, also from Forsyth, was defeated by metro-area opponent Jerry Hinton.

In other action, Lance Dixon won against Dan Ray, Jesse Benton defeated Jake Brison and David Zavala beat Luis Angeles.

In the main event, International Sport Karate Association Mixed Martial Arts Lightweight Champion Rusty Transue of Lumpkin defeated challenger Billy Wall of Tifton in the first round with the use of an expertly-executed arm-bar.

Barrett was pleased with the competition’s turnout and hopes to arrange another amateur competition in the North Georgia area in January or February.

“The feedback I’ve been getting has been really positive,” Barrett said.

“I hope to have another event early next year. The fighters need at least six months prior to a fight to train properly.”