Fighters prepare for “Nightmare On Roeder Ave Fight Night” slated for Friday, July 13. // Photo by Max Gleiberman
There’s a smell of sweat and hard work in the air at Bellingham Mixed Martial Arts. The pitter-patter of gloves and grunts emanate throughout the gym and shed a light on what’s to come.
Bellingham MMA owner and head coach Hunter Clagett will host the fourth annual “Nightmare On Roeder Ave. Fight Night” on Friday, July 13, where an array of fighting styles will be on display, ranging from kickboxing to Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Ten of the roughly 75 students Clagett trains participate in fights. Clagett says the best part of his job is seeing students improve, coaching them through struggles in the ring and in life.
“We take something that would otherwise be a harmful or destructive impulse and channel it into something that is uplifting and improves people’s lives,” Clagett said. “The magic of fighting is that you take destructive impulses and turn them into productive ones.”
He said some of the fights to look forward to are kickboxing match of Stephanie Hugo versus Chelsea Hernandez, who are both are fighting for the first time, as well as a high level jiu-jitsu title match between Josh Ratliff and Brock Gorang.
Hugo, who fights out of Bellingham MMA, is a wife and mother of two kids.
Hugo enjoys MMA for the personal benefits it provides, she said it keeps her clear headed and creates a good regimen for life. She believes MMA isn’t just for people who like to fight but also a tool for self improvement.
“This is my first real in-person fight,” Hugo said. “I’ve never had a fight out in public or with friends or hit anyone before.”
Hugo hasn’t met her opponent Hernandez yet, but said there is mutual respect between fighters, “sort of an honor among thieves,” Hugo said.
The other fight to look forward to is the Brazilian jiu-jitsu match. Brock Gorang, who trains out of Hybrid Gym and Kitsap Combat Sports, versus Josh Ratliff, who trains out of Kindred Jiu JItsu in Edmonds.
Gorang said MMA has had a profound effect on his day to day life.
“Training is my escape, my form of meditation and a motivational force to excel past previous plateaus. It also provides a positive outlet to challenge myself, which is something I need in life to feel accomplished,” Gorang said.
Gorang said you need to respect your opponent enough that you push yourself harder in training, to the point where it almost becomes a mild fear.
He believes MMA and jiu-jitsu are more complex than most people think, and this match is good way for people to learn.
“This match is a chance to experience the art and excitement of Brazilian jiu-jitsu in a purer grappling setting,” Gorang said.
Josh Ratliff, who’s been training for seven years says Brazilian jiu-jitsu has been the most positive thing that has ever happened to him “In high school and college I didn’t have the greatest outlook on life or the most positive personality,” Ratliff said.
He learned that to become better in life you’ve got to let go of your ego, be humble and show respect to your competitors, teammates and coaches.
Ratliff said he has great respect for his opponent Groang, who beat him in last year’s event. He said he is most excited about getting the chance at a rematch.
“I grappled him with an injury and lost the match on points, so I’m extremely excited to push the pace on this match and see what happens. Should make for an interesting night,” Ratliff said.
Attendees can purchase tickets ahead of time for $25 or $30 at the door. Clagett said he hopes to have a food truck and outdoor area hangout.
Clagett said if you’ve never been to a live fight, especially in a small venue, it’s a different experience. It’s a different look seeing fights live. You see the sportsmanship and the heart that goes into it, Clagett said.
“Every seat is a front row seat, you’re going to get right in the action see someone up close and personal struggling and striving for something, to me that’s amazing to see.”
Event coverage will be posted Saturday, June 14. For live updates, follow @WFSportsLive on Twitter.