(Originally published in the Telegraph on 5/27/08)
ALTON - Judo chop your remotes and drop-kick your big screens, because all the bone-crunching mixed martial arts action made popular by television's Ultimate Fighting Championship is coming on June 7 to the Knights of Columbus Hall in Bethalto.
Take That Promotions - co-founded by Adam Marburger and Ervin Cole III - presents the Battle of the Bend, a night of both professional and amateur fighting competitions. The former East Alton-Wood River High School classmates organizing the event estimate 1,000 people will come to watch 30 competitors bruise and bloody each other for a chance at ring glory.
Marburger, 27, believes the event will interest thrill-seekers because it will showcase "local guys fighting in a local venue," he said.
A promoter of talented young athletes, Marburger is "trying to build this thing up for these guys. It's going to be exciting."
The Battle of the Bend will give the public an opportunity to see a new batch of mixed martial artists before they hit the big time, as well as a few time-tested veterans ready for the spotlight.
Lee Brousseau will be featured in the main event. Brousseau is "a very popular human being" who ha
s "trained with the best" and likely will attract the largest portion of the audience, Marburger said. The 32-year-old graduate of East Alton-Wood River High School is slated to fight Mike Lunsford from Lexington, Ky., although that booking is subject to change.
Confident in Brousseau's prowess as a competitor and entertainer, Marburger thinks the main eventer will soon "fight for millions of dollars."
Brousseau trains at the War Room in Wood River. Founded in 2007 by Brad Jones and promoted by Marburger, the War Room boasts several entries in the Battle of the Bend, including the debut of Justin Click, a 19-year-old from Roxana.
Other gyms in Madison County also will be represented. Ian Warren, who Marburger called a "huge phenom" with a 6-0 record, will attempt to bring his seventh win home to the Fight Factory in Edwardsville. Blake Shoemaker, who lives in Bethalto and trains with the Hit Squad in Granite City, will compete in his first mixed martial arts match.
Marburger sees mixed martial arts as an up-and-coming major player in the sports world.
"Five years from now, people will be watching this sport like they watch the St. Louis Cardinals now," he said.
Marburger appreciates all styles of fighting, including boxing. However, he doubts that the bulk of Americans share the same opinion.
"To the masses, boxing is slowly dying, and mixed martial arts are taking its place," he said.
Many sports fans are bored with the monotony of two fighters punching back and forth, Marburger theorized. He said they want kicking and submission holds, too.
The action begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 7. Ticket prices range from $30 to $50, although ringside seats are almost sold out, Marburger said.
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: A night of amateur and professional mixed martial arts matches
WHEN: Saturday, June 7, starting at 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Knights of Columbus Hall, 400 N. Beau Chateau, Bethalto
COST: Ticket prices range from $30 to $50