When Brawlers Attack

You'll do just about anything to avoid getting in a fight: pushing old ladies in front of would-be attackers; feigning a mental handicap to dissuade that meatsack at the bar from thwacking you; covering your face and screaming, "Please don't hit me!" when startled in front of the library by a blood-mobile volunteer (she came up on you so fast). Other folk want nothing more than to separate flesh from bone; to feel the crunching impact as they plant a spinning roundhouse kick into the structure formerly known as "that dude's face." We (pacifists) are very afraid of the later group. Which is why we pay them lots of money to do their fighting in rings, separated from us by ropes and celebrity.

Some such natural born fighters will be present at tonight's Back Alley Brawl, an amateur fighting promotion from local organizers Left Hook Pro. The fight night is basically the type of MMA you're used to seeing on television, only the rules are slightly different - the mixture of stand-up combat and grappling in the same bout is, at the moment, illegal for amateur competition in Florida. To get around this, fights are restricted to either ground matches or stand-up matches. And while certain other safety measures are in place, such as protective headgear, these Back Alley Brawls are about as exciting as fighting gets. "These are definitely not slow, boring fights," says Heather Coop of Left Hook Pro. "There is a lot of action, a lot of punches and kicks. People come out swinging for the fences."

Many of the MMA hopefuls on the card are fighting in a ring for the very first time - which isn't to say they're just bums off the street. For these rookie competitors, breaking into promotions like UFC and WEC is the long-term goal, and their training regimen reflects that. Even so, when it’s go time for a green fighter, all the preparation in the world doesn't mean much. "[Many fighters] come in with a lot of bravado. But that first time they go two minutes, it's the longest two minutes they’ve ever experienced in their life," says Coop. "Training is nothing but when someone across the ring is really trying to take your head off."

Lucky for you, Mr. Pacifist, no one will be trying to take your head off tonight. All you'll need to experience the adrenaline rush of combat is $25 in hand and directions to the Davie PAL at 4300 SW 57th Terr. in Davie. The first bell rings at 5 p.m. For more info, call 954-235-2952, or visit lefthookpro.com.
Sat., April 11, 5 p.m., 2009

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John Linn