Mixed Martial Arts

Combat on the Coast packs quite the punch

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The inaugural Combat on the Coast was an overwhelming success, according to fight night promoter John “Juan” Thompson, who is planning on bringing many more of them to the Cher-Ae Heights Casino.

The first event was held on Saturday night and featured 13 fights, mostly Muay Thai fights, as well as one MMA fight.

“It’s only going to get better,” Thompson said of the sold-out show. “Everybody I talked to said it went so smoothly and that they loved it. I was amazed how many people came out to support our first show.”

The one disappointment Thompson had was the lack of MMA fights on the card, with injuries taking their toll at the last minute in this precarious sport.

But the 13 fights they did hold were all exciting affairs.

“Ultimately we still had 13 fights and they were all good fights,” said Thompson, who is also the owner and head trainer at the Institute of Combat in Arcata, where many of the fighters on the card train. “There were no easy fights for anyone. They were all exciting fights. People got their money’s worth.”

Local pro MMA fighters Cass Bell and Tyson Miller, who each fight out of the IOC, were both on hand to help their teammates and meet with fight fans.

And Thompson says pro fights will be a part of the Combat on the Coast’s future.

“There are going to be more shows and it’s only going to get better,” said the promoter, who is already planning the next event, which fans can hope to see within the next few months. 

Gabriel Smith, who also fights out of the IOC, won his MMA fight at the event, his first-ever appearance in the cage and one of the most exciting battles of the night.

“He started training with me about two and a half years ago and he’s become quite the fighter now,” Thompson said of Smith, who never competed in sports before. “Everybody loved (his fight). Everybody freaked out.”

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