Monday, August 3, 2009

A Piece of MMA History: "Battle at the Boardwalk"

Once upon a time (actually, February 18th, 2006), an Ed Hsu-run multi-discipline martial arts event came to the Atlantic City Convention Center. The event had everything - point karate matches, choreographed demos, boardbreaking, guys with foam katanas and naginatas beating on each other - and for MMA aficionados, there was a pro fight show at night. But history was made during the day, when Battle at the Boardwalk hosted New Jersey's first sanctioned amateur MMA event. From his seat cageside, USKBA grand pooba Paul Rosner coordinated the inspectors and judges, while within the cage, fighters like Greg Soto, Andrew Montanez, Derek Hopkins, Tim O'Connor and John Salgado threw down using new rules designed to make MMA more palatable to those aspiring fighters willing to step up. The experiment worked. Fifty billion events later and it seems that the whole amateur MMA industry has surpassed the pro side in terms of sheer volume (Kipp Kollar's Reality Fighting held an amateur event in Wildwood, New Jersey this past weekend; New Breed is holding a "Wilkie's Warriors vs. the World" event in Atlantic City in less than two weeks). That's a good thing. MMA is MMA, whether the competitors get paid or not, and today's amateur stars could be the pro superstars of tomorrow. And it all began with Battle at the Boardwalk.

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