Colter Brown, an infantryman with the 82nd Airborne Division, is accustomed to dealing with the rush of adrenaline. After winning the Heavyweight belt at the Fort Bragg All-Forces Combatives Tournament Dec. 13, he said the rush is not much different than that which one feels during a firefight downrange; something the combat veteran is also familiar with.
“This type of situation when you step into an environment where you know you’re getting into a fist fight with another man, you get that same kind of adrenaline as when a bullet cracks by,” Brown said. “I’m now able to release it slower and at the right times. When I walked into the cage tonight for my fight, I was pretty calm. I felt relaxed and focused.”
Fort Bragg hosted the tournament Dec. 11-13, and hundreds of mixed martial arts fans got to see many of the military’s best fighters in action.
“This is something I’ve been working towards for eight and a half years; since I joined the military,” said Brown, who was inspired by former All-Army Combatives champions. “I wanted to get to that level. It almost didn’t seem possible back then, but I wanted to try.”
The first two days of competition, which took place at Ritz-Epps Physical Fitness Center, were elimination bouts. Each day, fighters were progressively allowed to use advanced skills.
On the first day, combatants used Standard Rules; grappling techniques to include chokes and submissions, but were not allowed to use strikes and kicks.
The second day combatants were able to use Intermediate Rules; open hand strikes to the face, punches to their opponents’ bodies, and kicks from head to toe. Knee and elbow strikes were not permitted.
Those who made it to the final day of competition, when championship and consolation bouts were fought at the post’s Sports USA, competed using Advanced Rules. Combatants wore 4 oz. fingerless gloves and were allowed to strike head to toe, much like MMA, but without elbow and knee strikes.
“The teams that were brought here from 10 different installations were the best combatants from that installation,” said Master Sgt. Maltise Jones, tournament coordinator and Fort Bragg Combatives School noncommissioned officer-in-charge. “They had elimination rounds they had to fight to get on their teams and so what we have here is the best of the best from those different locations.”
Combatants competed in seven weight categories. Fort Bragg won the team title with five champions, 10 finalists, and three consolation finalists. They were followed by Fort Leonard Wood with one runner-up and four consolation finalists. Fort Campbell placed third with one champion and four consolation finalists. Fort Polk also had one champion and a consolation finalist.
Brown, who has served as an instructor at the Fort Bragg Combatives School for the last two years, will soon return to an infantry line unit and hopes to be assigned a squad at his new duty station; Fort Campbell, Kentucky. During his time as an instructor, Brown said he feels satisfied that he has impacted a lot of Soldiers and looks forward to continue to impart his experiences and knowledge on others. He believes strongly in the importance of the Army Combatives program.
“First and foremost, it is a method of training our Soldiers to defend themselves in life or death situations where they may not have a projectile weapon,” he said. “That is the most important aspect and we can’t lose focus of that. But these competitions represent more than that. It gives individual Soldiers something to continue training for. It gives them the opportunity to achieve that elite status; to be the best. And that’s what I think all of us as warriors and Soldiers want; we want to be the best at something.”
Brown also recognizes how his extensive training in combatives has made him more successful both professionally and personally.
“This changes people’s lives,” he said. “When you start getting further into the martial arts aspect of it, you begin to mature as a person. As anything that requires dedication and focus, you start learning how to prioritize how to balance, and how to sacrifice what needs to be cut out. You learn how to keep pushing through things that are very painful.”
It was standing room only as the hundreds of seats at Sports USA, Fort Bragg, filled up quickly. The night kicked off with seven consolation bouts beginning with the Flyweights (125 pounds)
Sarah Toyoda, Fort Campbell, an accomplished jiujitzu fighter withstood a barrage of strikes from Dillon Corcoran, also of Fort Campbell, through two and a half rounds before securing an arm bar half-way through the third round. It appeared that Corcoran had won the first two rounds scoring numerous effective strikes. Toyoda got some strikes in as well but patiently waited for the opportunity for the submission.
“I trusted my jiujitzu,” said Toyoda on her come from behind win. “I can’t panic or freak out. I still need to have composure and think. To me winning means that I didn’t give up. It’s about having the heart to go on.”
Toyoda and Corcoran earned Fight of the Night honors.
Ruben Perez, Fort Campbell, traded strikes in the first round against Daniel Withrow, Fort Bragg, at Lightweight (140 pounds). The two traded blows to start the second round until Woodrow scored a takedown and finished the bout with a flurry of strikes to win by referee stoppage.
Herold Parham, Fort Leonard Wood, seemed to dominate the first round of his Welterweight (155 lbs.) bout with Brian Horvath, Fort Bragg, scoring with heavy strikes and kicks. After a takedown, Parham continued to score with strikes and attempted a choke as the round came to an end.
In the second round, Horvath attempted a kick which Parham caught and used to take his opponent to the mat. Parham landed effective strikes to the face. From his back, Horvath countered with some solid strikes. Toward the end of the round, Horvath secured an arm bar submission for another come from behind victory.
Middleweights (170 lbs.) Timothy Hayes, Fort Bragg; and Calvin Cunningham, Fort Leonard Wood; spent most of the first round in the clinch with neither scoring any significant strikes. Cunningham attempted a Guillotine Choke but was unable to secure it.
Cunningham began the second round delivering strikes to the face and a kick to the body. Hayes countered with a kick to the abdomen. Midway through the round Cunningham took Hayes down and scored multiple strikes to the face to end the bout by referee stoppage.
At Cruiserweight, Jonathan Cruz, Fort Leonard Wood; opened the bout with kicks and punishing strikes to the face and body of his opponent, William Bell, Fort Campbell. Bell was able to counter with a few kicks of his own but Cruz unleashed a strong kick to the face. Cruz went down to his back pulling Bell into him. Cruz secured a Triangle Choke winning by submission at 1:45 into the first round.
Ivy Baron, Jr., Fort Carson; and Jeffrey Duncan, Fort Leonard Wood; traded strikes and kicks to open the first round of their Light Heavyweight (205 lbs.) bout. Barton brought his opponent down to his back, and landed some strikes to the face and body. Both men attempted leg locks but were unable to secure them. Duncan attempted a Front Guillotine Choke but Barton blocked it.
The two began the second round trading kicks before a strike by Barton knocked Duncan to the mat. Barton quickly got on top and pummeled his opponent before the referee stopped the bout at 0:50 into the round.
The Heavyweight (275 lbs.) bout was a classic as the two big men exchanged heavy punches. William Smith, Fort Carson; and Brian Hamel, Fort Polk; both landed great combinations, but with 0:30 remaining in the first round, a strike by Hamel brought Smith to the mat. Hamel followed him down with more punches and won the bout by Referee Stoppage (Strikes).
The consolation bouts certainly heightened the anticipation for the championship bouts. It was clear that if the consolation bouts were any indication, the championship bouts were going to be spectacular.
Christian Nielsen, Fort Campbell; and Jodoniss Edwards, Fort Bragg; came out in a flurry of jabs and kicks. Nielson scored a takedown and attempted an arm bar but was unable to secure it.
The two came out swinging to open the second round. Nielsen scored a takedown with a throw and then delivered combinations to the face and body. Nielsen successfully trapped Edwards’ left arm and won by Referee Stoppage (Strikes) at 2:16 into the second round.
At Lightweight, James Quigg, Fort Bragg; wasted no time as he secured an arm bar and the won by submission against Robert Foy, Fort Bragg; at 0:48 into the first round.
The only bout to go the full 15 minutes was the Welterweight championship between Fort Bragg teammates and practice partners Jesse Hertzog and Thomas Colby. Both combatants fought conservatively which made the first round look like a tactical sparring session. Each was able to get a few good strikes to the face but for the most part, both did a very nice job of dodging strikes with good movement.
The second round started out similar to the first. Hertzog connected with some kicks to the body. Colby caught Hertzog with a good right to the jaw followed by a takedown attempt which Hertzog countered and ended up on top. Hertzog was able to get some good strikes to the face before the bell.
Heading into the third and final round, the bout appeared to be even. Colby delivered a strike to the body followed by a single-leg takedown attempt, which pushed Hertzog into the fence. Hertzog delivered some strikes of his own to Colby’s face and then countered a double-leg takedown attempt which put Colby on his back. Both fighters worked their way back to their feet and with 0:30 remaining in the bout, both fighters unleashed a torrent of strikes. Just before the bell, Hertzog dropped Colby with a strike and a kick to end the round.
All three judges scored the bout in favor of Hertzog, 29-28.
The first round of the Middleweight bout between Marques Daniels, Fort Bragg; and William Coggin, Fort Bragg; was rather even. Toward the end of the round, Daniels was able to land a few good strikes to the face.
In the second round Daniels maintained control from top position most of the round and was able to get a win by submission half way into the second round.
Cruiserweights Nolen Rege Victor McCullough
Cruiserweights Nolen Rege, Fort Polk; and Victor McCullough, Fort Carson; exchanged strikes early in the first round. Rege gained control after taking McCullough to the mat where both fighters were able to score strikes. Rege stood up and delivered a strike to the face while McCullough, on his back, hung on to a guard position with his legs wrapped around Rege’s hips. Rege appeared to win the first round.
Rege seemed to win the second round as well by delivering more effective strikes than McCullough.
In the third round, McCullough, on his back, attempted a Guillotine Choke down on the mat, but Rege got his head free. Rege was able to trap both of McCullough’s arms making him unable to defend against the strikes that followed. The referee stopped the fight midway through the third round.
Light Heavyweight Nicholas Whitney, Fort Bragg; attempted a throw in the first round, but Chad McMahon, Fort Bragg; countered and Whitney went to his back. McMahon immediately unleashed a barrage of strikes to the face forcing the referee to stop the fight midway through the first round.
In the final bout of the evening, Brandon Grey, Fort Leonard Wood; stepped into the cage to face Colter Brown, Fort Bragg. Gray went for a quick double leg and looked like he had good control of Brown’s legs. But Brown was able to stall the takedown, secure a Guillotine Choke and win by submission just 0:38 into the first round.
Flyweight: Christian Nielsen, Fort Campbell; defeated Jodoniss Edwards, Fort Bragg; by Referee Stoppage (Strikes) at 2:16 Round 2.
Lightweight: James Quigg, Fort Bragg; defeated Robert Foy, Fort Bragg; by Submission (Arm Bar) at 0:48 Round 1.
Welterweight: Jesse Hertzog, Fort Bragg; defeated Thomas Colby, Fort Bragg; by Unanimous Decision (29-28)
Middleweight: Marques Daniels, Fort Bragg; defeated William Coggin, Fort Bragg; by Submission (Arm Bar) at 2:30 Round 2.
Cruiserweight: Nolen Rege, Fort Polk; defeated Victor McCullough, Fort Carson; by Referee Stoppage (Strikes) at 2:30 Round 3.
Lightheavyweight: Chad McMahon, Fort Bragg; defeated Nicholas Whitney, Fort Bragg; by Referee Stoppage (Strikes) at 2:30 Round 1.
Heavyweight: Colter Brown, Fort Bragg; defeated Brandon Grey, Fort Leonard Wood; by Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 0:38 Round 1.
Flyweight: Sara Toyoda, Fort Campbell; defeated Dillon Corcoran; by Submission (Arm Bar) at 2:37 Round 3. Fight of the Night
Lightweight: Daniel Withrow, Fort Bragg; defeated Rubin Perez, Fort Campbell; by Referee Stoppage (Strikes) at 2:40 Round 2.
Welterweight: Brian Horvath, Fort Bragg; defeated Herold Parham, Fort Leonard Wood; by Submission (Arm Bar) at 2:30 Round 2.
Middleweight: Calvin Cunningham, Fort Leonard Wood; defeated Timothy Hayes, Fort Bragg; by Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 2:30 Round 2.
Cruiserweight: Jonathan Cruz, Fort Leonard Wood; defeated William Bell, Fort Campbell; by Submission (Triangle Choke) at 1:45 Round 1.
Light heavyweight: Ivy Barton, Jr.; defeated Jeffery Duncan; by Referee Stoppage (Strikes) at 0:51 Round 2.
Heavyweight: Brian Hamel, Fort Polk; defeated William Smith, Fort Carson; by Referee Stoppage (Strikes) at 4:30 Round 1.