BELTON — Staff Sgt. Luis Carter Jr., Spc. Jeff Myers, Sgt. 1st Class Jeremie Oliver, Sgt. James Bruner and Spc. Aaron Rapoza know mixed martial arts plays right into their hands.
As instructors and members of the III Corps and Fort Hood Combatives team, they are accustomed to the training, sacrificing and execution of a plan. And on Saturday, it was time to have some fun.
The five men showcased their skills during the Titans Collide amateur fight card Saturday at the Bell County Expo Center.
“I’m a good guy who enjoys being the bad guy,” Carter said. “When I get out there and I’m training, that’s your chance to let out any misdeeds that have happened to you. Just let it out on a big old punching bag.”
All five soldiers are stationed at Fort Hood and train alongside fellow soldier and UFC fighter Staff Sgt. Colton Smith. Smith is training in New Mexico for an upcoming fight, but came back to the area to cheer on his friends.
Carter took part in the main event of the card and took on Thai Walwyn.
He saw the fight as a reward for the weeks and months of training. Like any fighter, he takes lessons learned from his first fight into the cage with him along with a stronger frame.
“Never underestimate your opponent, regardless of size or age,” Carter said as he prepared for his bout. “It doesn’t matter, never underestimate. In the end, go out and have fun.”
Carter vs. Walwyn
Carter, who has deployed three times in his Army career, was definitely the aggressor early in the match and late in the third and final round, scoring some takedowns and pinning Walwyn on his back, but he wasn’t able to land a knockout blow or get Walwyn to submit and the fight went the distance.
Though one judge scored the bout 29-28 in favor of Carter, the other two had the same score for Walwyn and Carter lost his first amateur fight.
Myers vs. Taylor
Myers turned the lights out during his amateur debut against Jared Taylor.
Before the fight it was hard to believe that the 5-foot-8, 135-pound soldier was heading out there for the first time as an amateur.
“I just think of all the crap I had to put my body through and all of the training I had to put myself through,” Myers said about his prefight preparation. “I make sure I put it into a plan and I make sure it gets engaged into the full effect out in the ring.”
Myers was the aggressor and was quickly able to pin Taylor to the floor and land a 10-punch combination to his face and head before the bell rang.
But there was no escape in the second round as Myers landed a couple of right crosses that knocked Taylor to the ground. Myers followed with two shots to the back of the head that ended the bout 16 seconds into the middle round.
Oliver vs. Harry
Oliver and his opponent Shaquan Harry were making their amateur debuts, but Oliver had the presence of a veteran.
“I’m nervous right up until the first exchange, then I get calm,” Oliver said.
His game plan was simple — take Harry down and beat him up. Oliver followed that to a tee and scored a technical knockout in 2 minutes, 7 seconds.
Bruner vs. Davis
Bruner was fighting for the second time as an amateur and for the first time in nine months. But it took him less than a minute to score this win.
Bruner wrestled in high school and became interested in pursuing a career in MMA when he first joined a combatives program in 2005.
“It got me really hooked and just being around all these guys really motivated me to work toward the MMA career,” Bruner said. “It all started way back in 2005.”
Bruner had the first quick takedown against Darius Davis and got him into a choke hold within the first minute of the match.
The match was stopped 59 seconds in as Bruner got the submission win.
Rapoza vs. Scott
Rapoza was the first combatives instructor on the card and said before the fight that applying moves from combatives can work outside of the battlefield.
“Combatives can be used outside of the Army as well as inside the Army,” Rapoza said. “That’s why we teach things. There’s techniques we used in our training that are part of combatives and there are techniques that maximize beyond combatives.”
Rapoza went the distance with Steve Scott, but lost via unanimous decision.