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Canton to host Nov. 3 martial arts championships in arena

Staff Reporter

CANTON - The city will host IMPACT Mixed Martial Arts Championships at the Multi-purpose Complex arena on Nov. 3. The event will attract fighters from a five state area to engage in ruled combat, including Madison resident Rich Swete, who aims to test his mettle in these events.

Swete, who operates the Madison Wrestling Club, said he is compelled to compete for reasons of self-examination and self-revelation. He said when a man engages another in one-on-one combat, his true nature shows itself. Swete said nothing remains but that moment in which to act.

"It's one of the ultimate tests," he explained. "Just you and another person, and nothing else. You really remove your security. Who you are and what you're about is exposed. It's put up or shut up."

Brian McGuire, joint promoter of the event along with fellow martial artist Josh Burns, said he hopes to bring some entertainment and legitimate competition to the area, while providing spectators with the opportunity to see fighters who may soon rise through the ranks.

"This will provide entertainment, plus the chance to see good fighters, who may actually go onto [events like] the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship, a national mixed martial arts organization featuring some of the world's top fighters)," said McGuire. "We want it to be something big, something fun, where everybody has a good time."

He said the competition will draw fighters from Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Alabama.

McGuire said the Multi-purpose Complex will offer a safe, family-friendly and easily accessible atmosphere.

"It's a good venue, not that far from Jackson, and right off the interstate," he said.

McGuire said that mixed martial arts is called such because it is an amalgam of various fighting methods. A mixed martial artist himself, McGuire said the event will feature both stand up and ground work, this meaning the competitors will fight both on their feet, using strikes, such as punches and kicks, as well as on the ground with wrestling and submission skills. Once on the ground, fighters can still enlist the use of their striking arsenal.

"You just see all the styles," he explained. "It's all mixed. You just can't say it's one specific style."

Swete said he has always been enthralled by fighting, not only for the visceral appeal but for the intellectual aspects of the sport as well, in terms of strategy and technique.

"I've always been interested in different forms of combat," said Swete. "It's kind of like kinetic chess."

McGuire said they are expecting to have about 10 fights at this event, but the number can always change and fights will continue to be arranged until shortly before the competition.

He said he is pleased with the Canton facility as the venue of choice, and he and co-promoter Burns, plan to hold more events of this kind at that facility in the near future, with another mixed martial arts event coming early next year.

"Everybody there has been awesome," said McGuire. "I don't want to change it (the location). I want to have another one in Canton."

Swete said people in the metro area have not had the benefit of exposure to mixed martial arts as those in his former home of California have, and as a result may have a limited knowledge of the fight game. He said he hopes events like this will shed light upon a sport that is fast growing in popularity.

"I think people will take away with them a broader view. It's not a blood bath. These are athletes," said Swete. "People who take the time to [understand the sport] would be surprised. It's different from a street fight. It doesn't come from anger. It comes from a personal will. [The question is:] can you survive?"

Tickets will cost $25 for ringside and $20 for general admission, but can be purchased in advance, for a $5 discount, at the IMPACT Martial Arts school in Brandon or the Canton Multi-purpose Complex. For more information, call IMPACT at 601-591-1515.