MMA Club invited to Florida Showcase

Bradley Piros, Sports Editor

MACOMB, Ill. – The Western Illinois University Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Club will have the opportunity to participate in the National University and College Association of Mixed Martial Arts (NUCA MMA) Showcase 2020. This is the first time since the club’s creation in 2009 that they have been able to send members of the club to a high-level event like this one.

Five members will be making the trip, those five being: senior, and president of the club, Brock Daley, junior Brody Johnson, freshman Jaiden Speer, senior Anthony Gomez and freshman Ivan Rodriquez.

The MMA Club will travel down to the University of Central Florida later this month on Friday, Feb. 28 to show off their skills and are hoping that all their hard work will finally pay off.

“The sport is beautiful,” Daley said in an interview with WIU Media Relations. “You get out what you put in. You have to put in about six months of preparation for two minutes of action.”

Daley has a fight on the Main Card of the event, and he will be going in undefeated. Daley practiced with his high school’s wrestling team and also competed as a member of the Academy of Self Defense back home in Chicago. He came to Western in the fall of 2016 and was very pleased to find out that they had an MMA Club.

The NUCA MMA is relatively new. Since it was founded in 2017 the organization has been trying to help amateur MMA fighters as well as student athletes pursue professional careers in MMA, such as the Ultimate FightingChampionship (UFC).

Western has been part of the NUCA MMA since the fall of 2018 but have yet to be invited to event like this one. Western will be going up against other, much bigger, schools such as Arizona State University, Grand Canyon University, the University of Albany and Ohio University to name a few.

Since it is collegiate, there is no prize money for the winners. The showcase is primarily for showing off the skills of these athletes and getting them exposure to the MMA community. In a way, the NUCA MMA is a steppingstone for those who are trying to make it as a professional in mixed martial arts one day.

Along with the great exposure this showcase offers, it also shows the legitimacy of these fights. This event will give these fighters the experience of the legality and management issues associated with MMA, for instance health insurance and traveling. There’s a whole lot more that goes into MMA than just being able to throw a punch, and that’s what this event is trying to teach to these amateur athletes.

The final thing that this event offers is the chance to get to spar with other amateur fighters from all over the country in a safe and regulated environment. For those who aren’t familiar with MMA terminology, sparring is basically one-on-one practice with another fighter where the goal is to better your skills, not actually hurt your “opponent.”

For any of those interested in either learning the ins and outs of MMA or just watching what goes into it, the club will be hosting an open workout tomorrow (Feb. 15) from 1-3 p.m. inside the Student Recreation Center.

The public will get an opportunity to learn about the club, get to know the students in it and even learn some new skills if they want to. Following practice, each member of the club will be asked some interview questions regarding the showcase at the end of the month.

The full card has not come out yet for the NUCA MMA 2020 Showcase, but for those who are wanting more information it can be found on their website or on their official NUCA MMA Facebook page.