Sgt. 1st Class Michael Williams was on his back, which was bad.
His opponent, Sgt. Cassins Towns, a 200-plus-pound man from the 41st Fires Brigade sat on his stomach, which was worse.
But Williams didn’t fight his way through the 2013 III Corps and Fort Hood Combatives tournament to get to this point, the third round of his third-place heavyweight division bout, to just let the end come now, this way.
“I just had to dig deep and fight all the way through,” Williams said. “I was able to get overturned again and I just went in for the finish, gave it everything I had.”
Williams controlled much of the match, but Towns escaped every time Williams tried to finish the fight. Then, when Towns had the late advantage in the final round, Williams controlled the outcome. He completely reversed his position, mounted Towns and then rained down punch after punch onto his opponent’s head before the referee stopped the match.
Williams and Towns were two of 229 fighters that competed in the four-day, combatives tournament, arguably one of the most competitive post-level tournaments in the country, last week at Abrams Physical Fitness Center.
After finishing runner-up in 2012, the 3rd Cavalry Regiment won the team championship with 404 points. Last year’s champion 41st Fires Brigade finished second with 335 points and 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division finished third with 305 points.
First- and second-place finishers in each of the eight weight classes were draped with blue III Corps warm-up jackets following their championship fights Saturday night signifying their memberships on the III Corps All-Army Combatives team, which has won an unprecedented three straight All-Army titles.
The All-Army team will carry four fighters in each weight class, two of which will compete in the All-Army tournament this year.
“I tell them when we start (working out for All-Army), ‘I don’t care what you placed at the tournament, all four of you, equally, have a chance to be on this team,’” said Kris Perkins, the director of Fort Hood’s combatives program. “‘It’s up to you how hard you work up to the tournament who I choose. As a matter of fact, you will choose against each other because you will fight each other at the end of this to go to the (All-Army) tournament.’”
The post-level tournament went from three days to four days in length last year when about 400 participants entered the 2012 competition. The numbers were down in 2013, but it’s no less competitive.
“The lower number is because the brigades are having their own tournaments,” Perkins said. “There’s not just a mass flood of soldiers from across the post, it’s the most elite from each brigade competing.”
The tournament entrants included 24 women, the most-ever at Fort Hood. Last year, Staff Sgt. Jackelyn Walker was the only female combatant to reach the final-day championship fights. This year, two — Pfc. Mayra Llamoas, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command, and Pvt. Casey Gonzalez, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division — fought on Saturday.
Llamoas lost her third-place bantam weight bout to Pvt. Benjamin Craig and Gonzalez lost her bantam weight championship fight to Sgt. Simon Pequeno, 41st Fires Brigade.
Regardless of how they finished, when they finished, combatants from this year’s III Corps and Fort Hood Combatives tournament returned to their usual work-week a little sorer, a little more battered and bruised, but a lot better off.
“It’s not about winning or losing. I’m happy that I won, but it’s good to demonstrate the (Modern Army Combatives Program) techniques that we’ve learned that will help us out there in the fight,” Williams said. “I just came out the better guy this time.”
Contact Kevin Posival at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7562