ROSCOE, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) –The sport of Mixed Martial Arts has been on the rise in recent years. At the DeLaRossa Submission Wrestling Academy, their fight team is like a family.
“This fight team means everything to me. Win or lose they go out, they train their butts off,” said coach Jeremy Cuttill. “The only way to get better is to be a conducive group that has that same goal and mindset to push yourself no matter what. It’s like the old adage. Iron sharpens iron.”
At their recent fight in Mason City, Iowa, the team went 4-1, recording the fastest knockout on the card and being awarded the fight of the night trophy. That type of success is something team captain Demarkus Griffin says they take great pride in.
“Taking home those victories and trophies and stuff back to the Rockford area is pretty cool. We have supporters as young as kids all the way up to adults, so it’s really cool being able to see those people, make them happy, and make them proud.”
Lawrence Phillips initially got into the sport through Griffin, and the two have been friends since their days at Auburn high school.
“Who knows you better than somebody you grew up with,” said Phillips. They are going to tell you when you’re doing something wrong, tell you when you’re doing something right. They’ll keep it honest with you versus somebody you don’t really know.”
Phillips, who made his fighting debut, was the one who secured the fastest knockout.
“Well, I want to say I won in like 29, 30 seconds something like that.”
Former East E-Rab Dontrell Johnson was also making his debut. He was the one awarded “Fight of the Night” for his split decision victory.
“He (his opponent) didn’t want to stand with me,” said Johnson. “Not at all. It was fun. I had fun and I was comfortable. I’d just say my mindset kind of got me here. Lifestyle, my lifestyle. I was going through some things so I had to get out of that and find a way to do it legally.”
The cherry on top of an already great night was the praise they received from one of the UFC’s most well-known fighters, Nate Diaz, who was a spectator at the event.
“With Nate Diaz being there, I didn’t know if he’d see it or not, but it was definitely kind of inspiring knowing there was high level talent there watching,” said fighter Jordan Baxter.
After a great performance like his team had, Head Coach Jeremy Cuttill said he loves watching the journey his fighters go on.
“Everybody has the opportunity, everybody starts somewhere, and the goal is to just continue to progress and get better.”