By Liz Gerrity
When the sun dawned on September 10, 2016, I knew it would be a momentous occasion. My hair looked amazing, and I was about to go watch thirty-six newly-minted fighters test their skills for the first time. The Oreo Household (Wes, Terrence, and myself) arrived at the gym to find a throng of people, many of whom were in Thai shorts. I was wearing jeans, and event coordinator Sean “MF” Madden was probably wearing sweatpants tucked into a pair of socks. To each their own.
The fighters were assembled before the cage to be read their rights. Sean begrudgingly admitted that there would, in fact, be an MMA smoker taking place, at the urging and seniority of one Tyler “Thundertubbs” Toner, and then seventeen more modified Muay Thai bouts would follow afterwards.
“No elbows,” Sean told his captive audience. “Don’t even think about it.”
None of them did think about it, thankfully, though some did not honor his previous request that they please not wear basketball shorts. Pockets love to catch toes in Thai bouts, my friends. The affair began promptly at noon, and I was asked to become the DJ I was always destined to be and man the musical selection. Then, with the largest crowd ever to grace an Easton Muay Thai Smoker clamoring for action, the fights began.
Up first, the notorious MMA bout between Adam Strauss and Patricio Rodriguez. They began socking one another with four ounce gloves, and I experienced traumatic flashbacks to breaking my thumb in boxing gloves at nationals. Mercifully, Patricio ended the bout with a well-executed arm bar.
The Thai bouts proceeded directly following the MMA exhibition, and all of the fighters put on displays of crisp technique and sportsmanship. With athletes from High Altitude Martial Arts, McMahon, Easton Martial Arts Academy, as well as Easton’s Boulder, Denver, Castle Rock, Littleton, and Arvada locations, there was a good match up of styles across a wide range of weight classes and age levels. Standout matches included the fabled “Battle of the Baes,” in which Boulder’s Porshya Ragoschke faced Kailee Miller of Littleton in an explosive 3-round bout filled with overhands and absolutely no mercy, and the leg-kick fiesta between Drew Calvo and Glenn Gary after which I feared one or both combatants may require peg legs.
In all seriousness, the Smoker is meant to be a learning experience, and the goal of each combatant should be to perform to the best of his or her ability without succumbing to nerves or performance anxiety. Every fighter and coach was respectful of their teammates, and participated in a manner that showcased their academies in a positive light. Three cheers go out to all the participating gyms and fighters for helping to make this event by far the best, most professionally executed Easton Smoker yet. It takes all of you to help provide these fighters with the means to continue growing and traveling through their unique journeys as martial artists. Excellent face-punching was had by all—let’s make the winter Smoker even better!
Photos by Liana Walsh and Lisa Brodsky.