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Fight night
Cage fighters face off in event at Lakeview
1 Ultimate Fighting pic 3
Moments before the fight against Chad Armstrong and the first fight of the night, Destin Couch prepares himself mentally at the Night of the Gladiators cage fight Saturday night at the Lakeview Center in Dawson County. - photo by Emily Saunders

Dawson County’s Lakeview Center held the second annual Night of the Gladiators mixed martial arts amateur tournament Saturday.


More than 300 fight fans gathered in the banquet hall of the Lakeview Center to watch 22 fighters from the North Georgia area and Florida test their hand-to-hand combat skills.


Georgia Athletic and Entertainment Commission Licensed Promoter Chris Barrett said the 11 bouts were conducted in accordance to Ultimate Fighting Championship  rules lasting up to 15 minutes in three intense five-minute rounds.


Fighters showcased a menagerie of fighting styles and techniques including everything from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and kickboxing, to traditional tried and true techniques such as boxing and wrestling.


“In ultimate fighting and mixed martial arts, it’s really about using whatever techniques you have at your disposal to beat your opponent,” said Barrett, who added that the increasing popularity of ultimate fighting and mixed martial arts is likely due to the greater freedom competitors have in the fights combined with the increased intensity of having only three five-minute rounds.


Fighters from Dawson, Lumpkin and Forsyth counties were among those to compete for a chance to improve their amateur fight records in hopes of breaking into the Ultimate Fighting and mixed martial arts professional industry.


Chad Armstrong, a 20 year-old mixed martial artist from Lumpkin County, fought Destin Couch of Duluth, losing the bout by split decision.


“It was a close match and my first loss on record. Which is why I want a rematch as soon as possible. I know I can win,” said Armstrong, who has trained to fight since the age of 12.


Armstrong’s brother, Eric, also lost his match against opponent Jared Bracket.


Also from Lumpkin County, Andrew Sullens won by technical knock out against opponent Brandon Williams of Florida.


Fighters representing Dawson County were Gabriel Bailey and Will Greary. Bailey lost his match when his opponent Brian Avery of Duluth knocked him out in the first round. Greary managed to win by split decision against his opponent Matt

Mullis of Forsyth County.


Jerry Hinton was one of several metro-area fighters to fair well in the competition, defeating Robert Ward of Forsyth County.


In other fights during the evening, Lance Dixon beat Dan Ray, Jesse Benton defeated Jake Brison and David Zavala beat Luis Angeles.


In the main event, International Sport Karate Association Mixed Martial Arts  Lightweight Champion Rusty Transue of Lumpkin County defeated challenger Billy Wall of Tifton, Ga. with an expertly executed arm-bar in the first round.


Barrett said he was pleased with the competition’s turnout and hopes to arrange another amateur competition in the north Georgia area for January or February of next year.


“The feedback I’ve been getting has been really positive. I hope to have another event early next year. The fighters need at least 6 months prior to a fight to train properly,” said Barrett.


E-mail Adam C. Stapleton at