NYFE 7: High Voltage

The dark before the lights go up.

The dark before the lights go up.

By Jason Burgos

As a student and aspiring journalist, I understand the hard work necessary in the pursuit of a dream. However, my aspirations to be a success in this field don’t require the experience of taking a right hook to the face (luckily for me).

When attending a New York Fight Exchange (NYFE) event, you will find passion at its purest level, as young men and women hone their craft in the most brutal internship known to man.

NYFE 7: High Voltage was my baptism in seeing Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) live and up close. It was held at Club Amazura, in Jamaica, Queens. The collaboration between the promoters for NYFE and Amazura made for a unique blend of sporting event and night club (including a bar and servers attending to patrons at their seats).

Though the handouts didn’t say UFC, Bellator, or World Series of Fighting, this was an MMA event like any other, complete with walkout music, a Jumbotron, ring announcer, and on-camera post-fight interviews. The 13-bout card enjoyed a viewing audience of interested and equally passionate fans.

And passion truly was what encompassed this show. As a newbie to live action, it was a surreal moment once it all started. Yet, once that euphoria of an excited fan wore off, all I could do was sit in amazement at these individuals putting their health on the line for no monetary gain. It was violent pro-bono work all for a dream that is about as likely to reach its fruition, as it was for me to jump in the cage for the main event. But that is why you have to watch in awe and respect what these ambitious fighters were out there doing.

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Young fighters embracing the grind.

I have been a die-hard MMA fan since 2007, though watching a fight on television doesn’t prepare you for what your senses will encounter at a cage-side seat. The yell of an adrenaline-fueled fighter, the sound as bodies crash to the mat from a takedown, the sweat pouring from a fighter putting his all into those three rounds, or the blood-letting all in the pursuit of future glories.  The sound of flesh digging into muscle and bone in search of the true payment of this bout; the proverbial a pound of flesh. It truly is a one of a kind experience.

While these fighters aren’t being paid, they are not without support. There are sponsors for the event itself, and without a doubt, Sic Chic East Coast Fight Wear was the most prominent brand there to support the show and its fighters. With three banners hanging in the arena, and a booth to display as well as sell their apparel (which was actually used by one gear-less fighter on the card), the brand was showing its influence on the show. And in the cage, sponsored fighters Sarah Click and Ricky Edwards wore exclusive Sic Chic gear that was the most unique and colorful clothing worn by any fighter on the card. It gave both fighters a pro-look in an amateur bout.

Sic Chic East Coast Fight Wear banner

Sic Chic East Coast Fight Wear banner

Not to be outdone, these pugilists had the backing of their training camps. Some, like Ryan Kane, hailed from the well-known Massachusetts based Sityodtong Muay Thai Academy. Heavyweight Mike Hauben was representing Long Island’s Serra/Longo camp, home of UFC 185-lb. champion Chris Weidman. Though, local powerhouses like Fusion MMA and East Coast United (with it facilities in multiple boroughs) made a lot of noise at this show. Be it from inside or outside of the cage. The boisterous supporters representing the families and teammates of these combatants added an extra intensity and layer of tension to several match-ups.

The card was not without prestige as several notable events occurred during the night. On the show were several teenagers; showing how early these hopefuls start at crafting a pro-career; including 18-year-old Ryan Gerena who made his amateur debut with an impressive victory. Plus the card included three title fights.

In the first title fight, Jungle Gym fighter Danny Rodriguez moved to 6-0 as he won the New York World Kickboxing Association (WKA) 135-lb. title. The aforementioned Sarah Click successfully defended her New York WKA Strawweight title. This was a noteworthy event because it was her final amateur bout, as she announced after the fight she would be turning professional and moving on to the next stage of her budding career. Lastly, the main even saw a title fight in the 185-lb weight class, as Justin Sumter won the NYFE title with a decisive technical knockout victory.

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Champions were crowned, people yelled, blood was spilled, and young fighters came face-to-face with their personal fight-or-flight instincts. What more could an MMA fan ask for?

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