June 17, 2008
Albany -- Martial Arts have been around for thousands of years, but the idea of combining all the different styles into one professional challenge really took off in the last fifteen.
The sport of Mixed Martial Arts is starting to rival the popularity of mainstays like Boxing and Wrestling, and a Dougherty High School graduate is ready to throw his hat into the ring.
Brandon Beach was state runner-up in wrestling his senior year in 2003 with Dougherty, and earned a scholarship to wrestle at Gardner Webb.
He's also a third degree black belt in taekwando, and has been competing since age seven.
Beach says combining the two disciplines in Mixed Martial Arts was an easy call.
"The martial arts aspect is something in me," says Beach. "That's what I love to do. Pretty successful at it. Wrestling came as second nature. Putting it together seemed to flow for me."
MMA is not a sport for the faint of heart.
Sometimes it's fought in a ring.
Sometimes in a cage.
While it may look like chaos, there are some rules.
Beach says, "You can't do whatever you want. There's no biting, of course. No low blows. No fish hooking, which if people don't know is pulling on the side of the mouth. You can't mess with the eyes, but everything else is pretty much legal."
Beach says there's really no reason to stray outside the rules anyway.
"Given all the leeway you have, if you catch someone on the chin the right way, they're going to sleep anyway," says Beach, "so there's no need to cheat."
Beach is 3-0 in his first three amateur fights, and while the sport has treated him pretty well so far, everyone may not agree.
"The one sound that sticks out the most, is hearing my mom saying, 'Don't do that. No. Stop. Don't hit him.' Stuff like that. Mama, don't do that, we're fighting," Beach says, with a laugh.
Brandon Beach currently trains and competes in North Carolina, and is hoping to turn pro at the start of next year.