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UFC fighters descend on base: Rothwell, Duran showcase skills

  • Published
  • By By Jose T. Garza III
  • JBSA-Lackland Public Affairs
Ultimate Fighting Championship competitors descended on Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Saturday to showcase their mixed martial arts and fighting skills.

UFC professional fighters Ben Rothwell and Reuben Duran demonstrated several of their fight techniques and gave some technical training students from the 37th Training Group an opportunity to grapple with them at the installation's Combative Lab behind the Gateway Fitness Center.

More than 50 students from three of the group's subordinate units - the 342nd, 343rd and 344th Training Squadrons - got a taste of the UFC experience before gathering to watch the UFC 144 pay-per-view event at the Skylark Community Center.

Rothwell and Duran also took time to sign autographs for fans and training students at the Skylark before the televised event.

Rothwell, who has conducted other demonstrations at Army and Navy installations said, the event boosts morale and gives service members an opportunity to hang out and spend some time with UFC fighters for a day.

"Anytime we can do something for members of our U.S. military, it's a good thing for us. Our military does so much for our country," said Rothwell.

"Taking a weekend of our time means a lot to them and it means a lot to us," he added.

The 6-foot 4-inch, 265-pound heavyweight is preparing to fight Brandon Schaub March 24 on UFC 145 pay-per-view.

Duran, who has done martial arts seminars for law enforcement groups said, "It was exciting to be on a military base. "It's always good to give back to the members of the military." And the technical students appreciated the gesture from the two UFC fighters.

Airman James Taylor, 343rd TRS, is a mixed martial arts fan with an amateur wrestling background.

Taylor said he learned from the demonstration. Rothwell and Duran had students partner-up and practice various grapples and exercises.

As a security forces specialist, Taylor came away with new fighting strategies he believes will benefit him in his career.

"I learned striking and different types of blocks," he said. "My strength and stance has gotten a whole lot better."

Taylor's grappling partner and fellow Airman, Brian Jurek, 343rd TRS, is a huge UFC fan. He also learned basic striking techniques and defensive stances during the event.

"I think it's amazing to go from watching them on TV to seeing them in person," Jurek said. "It's amazing that they took time out of their day to give us some pointers on how to defend ourselves."

Unlike her fellow students, Airman Shaquita Griffin, 343rd TRS, is not a general sports fan, but had fun learning grappling techniques that could help in her career as a security forces specialist.

"This event was really cool because a lot of people want to know how to fight real good," said Griffin. "They were able to teach us real hands-on, face-to-face techniques.

"It was a lot of fun. In security forces, they teach us how to defend ourselves. You may have incidents where suspects try to wrestle and fight you," she said.

"Now I know some more moves to get out of a situation when a suspect is stronger," she added.

Rothwell enjoyed the students' eagerness to learn new grappling techniques that they could potentially use in their future careers as Air Force cops.

"There are some people who like to do everything, and there are some who just like to do grappling or striking," he said.

"We gave them all an experience, an insight into what we do. So maybe some of them may want to continue in martial arts," he added.
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