Fans support MMA wrestling in Victoria (Video)
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Heather Hardin, 23, of Beaumont, attended the "Walk Through Death Valley" MMA event to support her boyfriend.
Jordan Morgan, 23, was making his professional debut in the second match Friday night.
"Right now he's 5-0 in the amateur league and 0-0 in the pros, he's 0-0," Hardin said. "We're hoping it's going to be 1-0."
Morgan acknowledged the cheers of his family and friends when he entered the ring with a smile and a raised gloved hand.
Hardin has gotten used to watching her boyfriend take hard hits, but she prefers the fights be shorter if he is getting beat up, she said.
"I'm freaking out," said Hardin as she popped a piece of peppermint gum into her mouth and fanned her face before the fight began.
Morgan is now undefeated in the professional ranks - he won his bout after three rounds.
Ultimately, the fights are for fun, and the violence is kept in the cage, Hardin said.
"It's like any other sport, they just choose to fight," Hardin said. "They don't fight anywhere else though, unless they're in the cage."
United Vision was one of the main sponsors of the MMA event.
Their terminal manager Richard Flores, 43, said events like these are a way to wine and dine his customers.
One such customer, Joe Cruz, 40, who works for an oil field company, said he thinks professional wrestling events provide a constructive example to decrease fighting in the streets.
"When people in the streets see professional fighting here, it changes their mindset toward violence," Cruz said.
The event is also family friendly, said Cruz, who brought his 16-year-old daughter and nephew to watch.
The first fight was called when a wrestler had blood streaming down the right side of his face.
Joshua Baker, 31, of Refugio, generally watches a friend who fights from Corpus Christi, but Friday night, he was out to see the sport as a whole rather than a particular athlete. The first fight was much shorter than Baker expected, called at 2 minutes 33 seconds.
While he would have liked to see them fight on, when he considered that the wrestler's eye may have been injured, he thought it was a good judgment call by the officials.
T.J. Gipson, 29, of Port Lavaca, said he has watched wrestling on television from time to time, but he was excited to attend his first live event. Gipson said he would like to train to participate in MMA one day.
From the general admission fans in the stands to the VIP fans on the floor served by waitresses, more than 2,000 fans groaned in unison when the first punch of the night was thrown during the first round, followed by a cheer when the first wrestler was slammed to the mat.
The entire arena continued to cheer, whistle and shout as they supported one wrestler or another.
South Texas Fighting Championship "Walk Through Death Valley" event promoter Frank Salazar said last year's amateur event sold out at Riverside Stadium.
Salazar said he was pleased to have the event at the community center, which attracted more people than last year.
Michelle Garcia, 33, of Edna, who came to watch the cage fights with her fiancee, Mingo Hernandez, 41, also of Edna, and their families, said the event made for a fun date night.
"We're all into sports a lot. It's fun to see a little action," said Garcia, who was recording UFC fighting at home so they didn't miss it while they watched the local live attraction.
"We love a good fight," she added.