The octagon is calling and four amateurs and one professional Mixed Martial Arts fighter will answer that call this weekend in the Indianapolis area.
Competing in an amateur event on Saturday will be Ronnie Campbell, Ryan Wood, Chris Pingleton and Jeremy Butler. The foursome will compete at the Elite Cage Fighting event at the State Fairgrounds.
All five train at the All-American Karate Academy with instructor Steve St. Pierre.
Campbell (0-1), Pingleton (1-0) and Butler (3-1) have all had experience in the ring, but this will be the first outing for Wood. When asked about what resources a good MMA fighter must have, St. Pierre acknowledged that two things are essentials.
"They need to have a really good stand up foundation, where they can kick and punch, and they have to have a good ground game," he said. "Now, the sport has just exploded so much people are coming up with new techniques, so you have to have a good way to get things going."
St. Pierre spoke about former local high school wrestlers Butler and Pingleton. He commented about their strong wrestling background and how that has helped them succeed in the world of MMA.
"Chris is just really, really strong and really fast and explosive. Now with some Jujitsu background, he has really just stepped it up to a whole new level," St. Pierre commented. "Jeremy is really explosive and fast. He's got a strong right hand and a good training and work ethic. That's half the battle. Those guys go, as they train in some stand up things, they go right to what they can do. They go back to their roots -- it's what they've been doing since they were kids."
Watching the fighters train at the All-American Karate Academy, it was easy to see that brute strength was only one component in their training. To be a successful MMA fighter, the mental side almost needs to outweigh the physical. MMA fighting is a series of opportunities and the best fighters are the ones who seize on those openings.
"That's why we train," St. Pierre said. "Hopefully, we're able to see the mistakes. That's what fighting is all about. You can either be preemptive and strike or take advantage of openings. Jujitsu is all about who is going to make the mistake, basically. You're rolling, staying tight and then all of a sudden there's an opening and, BAM, and snap it."
Gibbons is a Jujitsu specialist and has been training and working along side of local Master Instructor St. Pierre. Gibbons and St. Pierre are currently working on establishing a Jujitsu program at All-American Karate Academy. Gibbons is helping prep the current fighters with St. Pierre.
"We work Jujitsu," St. Pierre pointed out. "Kyle basically runs that part of the program and I run the kickboxing end of it. I do all the stand up and he's been doing all the ground work."
"For him, that's been his whole thing. He's just so much better than all the guys that I've seen him fight. He's like five steps ahead of those guys. Naturally, we'd like everybody to be that way, but it takes time to lead up to it. That's one good thing about having him at the school as a teacher, he can role with collegiate wrestlers," he commented.
With a background in Jujitsu, Gibbons is more comfortable when having his opponents on the mat ,but for his upcoming fight things may change. After a promise to his wife and teacher, Gibbons will look to establish a strong stand up presence and has a new weapon that's been added to his arsenal.
"We've worked a lot on his stand up, so if he ever really punches somebody and kicks them, it's going to be bad news for them," St. Pierre said.
Gibbons looks to implement his newest move -- the Superman punch. St. Pierre was all smiles discussing the punch and what effect he predicts it will have on Gibbons opponent.
"I think he'll be able to pull this one off on this guy. I got a feeling if he hits this guy with the Superman punch, it's going to be over," he said smiling.
Gibbons will compete in the Legends of Fighting at the 8 Second Saloon at 8 p.m. Friday, while Campbell, Wood, Butler and Pingleton will fight in the Elite Cage Fighting event at the State Fairground beginning at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
For information on classes or to purchase event tickets contact All-American Karate Academy at 765-655-1300.