It is entertainment; it is a sport with some rules, and it gets the fans off their feet and “in it” for almost every bout. It is not the “sweet science” of boxing, or the “game of death” called karate, or simply the haul and pull and tumble down action of wrestling. In fact, it is all of the above, and Belizean sport fans, like fans everywhere and especially on T.V., have succumbed to the primeval appeal for no-holds barred war between two combatants in a cage, whose only weapons are their meagerly gloved hands and bare feet, and their simple objective is to beat down each other until the referee intervenes for a time break or unlocks the tangled bodies. It was billed as the “Belize Mixed Martial Championship,” hosted by the House of Shotokan Karate Academy under Master Kelly; and Belizean fans in attendance last night at the Belize Elementary Gymnasium got their money’s worth ($10.00 adult, $5.00 children) of “Show Time” style action, where the gladiators joined in the spirit of the sport with generous pre-fight show-boating as well as sharing post fight camaraderie and demonstrations of respect and appreciation for their opponents, win or lose.
The Mexican visitors from Chetumal had the better of last night’s event, winning 5 of 9 bouts, and it could have been 6 of 9, if not for a disqualification in the “main event.” The 8 preliminary bouts were 3 rounds of 3 minutes each, with 1 ½ minutes rest in between; while the championship “main event” would only allow 1 minute rest.
It was scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. start, but with music filling the air, and ample food and drinks on sale, fans didn’t seem to mind the delay for the first bout, which got under way shortly after 8:00, with Mexican Randy Gonzalez gaining a 2nd round TKO victory over Belize’s Barnie Rock. Bout #2 was also won by Mexican Udi Gamino over Belize’s Mario Vasquez, this one by decision. Most fans were on their feet in bout #3, as Belize’s Ralph Hulse won by a 3rd round TKO against Mexico’s Darwin Sandoval. The Mexicans were back in control again in bout #4 with Carlos Escobar’s TKO victory over Jesse Mejia of Belize. And in the 5th bout, Mexico’s Eddie Pech won by decision over Lester Alvarado of Belize.
After a 20-minute refreshment intermission, the action resumed with Belize’s Joel Myers winning by TKO in the 2nd round over Mexico’s Erick Flota in bout #6. The Mexicans then took bout #7, as Chamaco Pech TKO’ed William Matura in the 3rd round. The last preliminary was bout #8, where Belize’s Alaine Alexis took the decision over Mexican Juan Carlos Nah.
Like all the exciting preliminaries, the main event between Belize’s Jameel Smith (elder brother of track legend Jaheed Smith) and Mexican Alberto Galera began with intense, crowd thrilling action, but gave fight fans a real scare at the end when referee Christopher intervened midway in the 3rd round with Jameel prostrate on the floor at the edge of the cage, and unable to regain his feet for some minutes after receiving attention from medical officer in attendance, Doctor Arriaga. However, there was a sigh of relief when Jameel finally took his seat, and a cheer went up from fans when it was announced that Galera had been disqualified due to an illegal technique (kneeing his opponent while both his feet and a hand were on the canvas), and , as a result, his championship belt was handed over to Jameel.
Despite, and perhaps because of the obvious danger involved in this type of combat, fight fans in attendance showed tremendous enthusiasm, especially the young females, who were eager to congratulate the winners and take pictures after each bout.
It certainly looks like Mixed Martial Arts has “arrived” in Belize, and Shihan Ray Kelly said fans can look forward to another event in the not too distant future. Belize’s Jameel Smith now holds the championship belt, and his Mexican rival Alberto Galera will be wanting to retrieve it.