Event puts local MMA fighters in the spotlight

Event puts local MMA fighters in the spotlight
Danielle Wagers

Professional MMA fighter Lucas Mast, right, evened up his professional career at 2-2 with a victory over a talented opponent in J-Mar “The Martian” Moore during Caged Thunder at Harvest Ridge on Saturday, Nov. 18.


The fight card was a tad lighter than the original card was supposed to be for the MMA Caged Thunder Fight Night at Harvest Ridge on Saturday, Nov. 18, but that didn’t stop fans from packing the house.

Highlighted by a victory for professional MMA fighter Lucas Mast in the nightcap, five local competitors were part of an 11-bout event, and the crew from Champions MMA of Millersburg carved out a 4-1 performance. Overall, the event was about giving the competitors a chance to showcase what they worked so hard to perfect, according to Mast.

Mast, who went professional a couple years ago and owns Champions MMA, said his second time competing at Harvest Ridge in front of a hometown crowd was both exhilarating and nerve-racking, as was the case for all of the local talent entering the octagon.

“It’s a ton of fun mixed with a whole lot of pressure,” Mast said. “I’ve wrestled here a couple of times, and it gives me some insight into the pressure and emotion of competing in front of a packed house full of people I know. I told all of the guys to just forget about that and go out and have fun.”

Mast said his previous fight at Harvest Ridge, which resulted in a loss, was a good lesson. He told himself this time to slow things down so he could see everything develop better.

“I was so rushed and hyper the last time, so this time I calmed myself down and dealt with the emotions much better,” Mast said.

As for watching his four club members battle in the ring, Mast said it was almost as nerve-racking as fighting himself, mainly because he sees how much time and effort they invest in improving their skills on a daily basis.

“I’ve seen these guys start from nothing and grow into incredible competitors,” Mast said. “These guys came in at first and were struggling. Then they asked questions, and even though they had days when it didn’t click, you could see them improving, and that’s exciting.”

Mast said one of the reasons he started the gym was to provide himself with a place to work out. However, it also was an investment in teaching the sport to others, and teaching and training them along with Jose Burgos, head coach and trainer at Champions MMA, has helped him gain insight and satisfaction.

“It’s not only the health factor of coming into the gym to develop, but also the confidence and self-esteem that come along with the effort they put in,” Mast said. “It’s so cool seeing those guys come in here and through commitment, hard work and consistency grind through this and grow.”

Mast pointed to Josh Sayers as a shining example. He said when Sayers first began, he had issues with asthma, which curtailed his stamina. Now those issues are gone, and Sayers is a different fighter.

Mast said that motivates him to work even harder himself seeing their commitment. He also said having Burgos there from day one has been a blessing because his expertise has been instrumental in all of their growth as fighters. He said coaches Brian Burkey and Corbin Schneider add to the success of the team.

As for the five local fights, Josh Sayers, a 170-pounder from the local Champions MMA club, defeated Wolfgang Huffman of Apex Fight Systems by TKO at 1:42 of the first round to claim a win at his inaugural fight.

At 205 pounds Hunter “The Hammer” Powers (2-0, Next Level Martial Arts Academy) defeated Josh “Miracle Whip” Flood (0-1, Champions MMA) by knockout 30 seconds into their match.

Another 170-pounder from Champions MMA, Charles “Whispers” Phillips advanced his amateur career to 2-0 when he defeated Matt “MB3” Brown (1-1, Apex) by triangle choke submission at 1:08 of round one.

Competing in the 135-pound division, Brent “Dees” Troyer (2-0, Champions MMA) defeated David Leasure (2-2, Sprawlin & Brawlin MMA) by TKO at 1:19 in the first round.

Then came the main event, where local professional Lucas “The Main Event” Mast dropped weight to square off with J-Mar “The Martian” Moore of Apex Fight Systems. Mast didn’t disappoint the local fans, who were in high spirits when Mast (2-2, Champions MMA) defeated Moore with a rear naked choke submission at 2:56 of round one.

Moore stepped in at the last second to replace his original opponent who pulled out at the last second. Mast said in doing so, Moore, who he knows and respects greatly, helped make the night complete.

“I can’t say enough about J-Mar,” Mast said. “He absolutely saved the card, and he is an amazing person and a tremendous fighter. We know each other well, which in a lot of ways makes it tougher to fight.”

With another successful event at Harvest Ridge, Mast said Caged Thunder is excited about bringing another fight night to Harvest Ridge in the future.

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