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Airman fights in MMA Competition

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Cammie Quinn
  • 43rd Airlift Wing, Public Affairs
While every base has its own personality and qualms, Pope seems to be at the butt of more jokes than many others. It is a stigma Airmen have to face each day they turn to pull into their work parking lot. Whether it's the impending changes BRAC will bring or the lack of, shall we say, family-friendly entertainment, Pope's Airmen have a lot to think about upon learning they are going to spend the next four years at what is so frequently referred to as "No Hope Pope."

It's a common misconception that if Airmen aren't into strip clubs and tattoo parlors, they are out of luck in the local area. Airman 1st Class Dylan Senecal, 43rd Communications Squadron, isn't buying it. He has carried over his passion for competition to Pope and has since brought other Airmen into his passion for Mixed Martial Arts.

MMA is a full contact sport that combines a wide variety of traditional and non-traditional techniques: boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai, wrestling, Jui-Jitsu and Judo. The rules allow for striking and grappling moves. "I've been training in wrestling for the past five years," Airman Senecal said. "I've trained in Jiu-Jitsu for two, and Judo for one - I began training in MMA about six months ago."

"I began doing MMA mainly because of the competition aspect," Airman Senecal said, "I've always loved fighting." He's been fighting for a while and has just recently found his niche. "I learned about MMA from watching Ultimate Fighting Competitions on T.V. I love competing in one-on-one competitions and this seemed like it would be right for me," he said.

Although he is relatively new to the sport, he has already developed the nickname "Spyder." "I got the nickname because my coach said I move very fast and fluently on the ground - and I hate spiders," the Airman said.

By the nature of the sport, fighters must ensure they are in the best shape to compete. In addition to working out with his squadron, Airman Senecal trains with two members of the 43rd CS; Senior Airmen William Reynolds and Ryan Valdez, as well as Airman 1st Class Sai Singhar, 43rd Civil Engineering Squadron, at least five times a week. The training includes sparring matches with his partner, giving Airman Senecal an idea of how effective his defensive moves will be while his opponent is attacking. The team avoids going all out while sparring, however. "We go light and try not to hurt each other," he said.

When preparing for a fight, Airman Senecal said they do "lots and lots of drills - take down drills, fighting off the cage, foot work and submission drills." To compliment his training, Airman Senecal keeps fit with conditioning, running, push-ups, up-downs, sprints, sit-ups and wall sits. Building endurance to ensure that fighters have the wind to go the distance is vital. Anaerobic conditioning provides endurance while maintaining a fast pace without having to pause to breathe in air. The training does not allow for a full recovery between sessions, simulating a fighter's constant movement during a competition.

Airman Senecal hasn't had the chance to compete in the sport ... yet. His first fight is Saturday. He doesn't know a lot about his opponent - other than it is his first fight as well, but Airman Senecal is confident that his training and preparation will help with any moves his opponent has. "Whether he is a stand-up guy or a ground guy, I have a plan for both."

The Airmen have found entertainment in the local community and invite anyone interested to join up, or at least see what MMA is all about.
"I'm so pumped for this fight, whether I win or lose I'm just ready to fight," Airman Senecal said. But don't let that fool you - he is prepared to win and has been practicing with that mindset. "I feel like I'm prepared mentally and physically to win."
The fights begin at 7 p.m. at the National Guard Armory in Greenville, N.C. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. So the next time someone mentions there is nothing to do at Pope, challenge them to a fight - that is an MMA competition.