*note: this is a story I published in the SFCC Communicator back in 2010. It was also the first MMA I had the chance to cover.
Al Stover / Reporting & Jarad Alexandar / Photography
published in 41.4 of the SFCC Communicator
The gymnasium smelled of sweat and pizza as fans filled the bleachers and seats surrounding the six-sided cage. On the opposite side of the room, 22 competitors were preparing themselves for battle.
Northwest Fighting presented Spokane Showdown 18. The event took place on Nov. 7 at the East Central Community Center. The event featured 11 mixed martial arts bouts in front of an audience of all ages.
The main bout of the evening featured Austin Peaker defeating Charlie Shultz for the Northwest Fighting Lightweight Title.
Peaker locked a rear naked choke on Shultz a minute into the first round, forcing the champion to submit.
Peaker, normally a welterweight fighter, explained that he trained hard with his gym and coaches to prepare for the fight. He also said he had never seen Shultz fight before their match.
“I had no idea what to expect,” Peaker said. “I was a little nervous.”
In addition to crowning a new champion, Showdown also featured a women’s MMA bout between Krista Burleson and Kristin Phares. Bart Smith, the event’s promoter, said this was Northwest Fighting’s first women’s fight.
“The girl fights are hard to put together, but they are a crowd favorite,” Smith said.
In the first 20 seconds, Burleson reversed Phares’ take down, mounted her and delivered several strikes to the head. The referee stopped the fight 23 seconds before the end of the first round, declaring Burleson the winner.
Phares, despite losing, was energetic about competing in her first MMA bout.
“I really enjoyed it,” Phares said. “I’m gonna keep doing it.”
The crowd was filled with friends and families of the fighters who competed on the card. Julie Eldred, whose 19-year-old son Justin was fighting for the first time, said she was a nervous wreck watching her son compete.
“There are 25 people here (to cheer) for him,” Eldred said.
The first match on the card featured Roni Ghuman from Kent, defeating Bo Berge in the first round with a rear naked choke. Ghuman said that while he was both excited and nervous, he still remembered his game plan.
“I had to keep it standing and avoid the ground,” Ghuman said.
Three of the fights at Showdown were finished in less than a minute. Welterweight fighter Mike Soderberg knocked out his opponent Brad Roberts fifteen seconds into the first round of their fight.
In addition to the MMA bouts, Showdown featured a grappling exhibition. Northwest Fighting will have their next event Dec. 5 at the Main Event, 8108 N. Division.