RAMADI, Iraq --
RAMADI, Iraq (October 19, 2008) – Warriors share a common bond, a mutual respect of the warrior instinct, a bond that extends beyond the battle field.
So it comes as very little surprise that most service members are great fans of Ultimate Fighting Championship fighters, and that the fighters are often huge military supporters.
To show their respect for what service members are doing in Iraq, three of UFC’s finest fighters visited with and hosted a clinic for service members aboard Camp Ramadi, Oct. 19, as part of the UFC 2008 goodwill military tour.
Joe “J-Lau” Lauzon, Heath “The Texas Crazy horse” Herring, and Jorge “El Conquistador” Rivera, spent a few hours teaching grappling, fighting in the clinch, and stand up fighting techniques to approximately 60 personnel living on Camp Ramadi.
“I think what you guys are doing is amazing, and it’s absolutely important to support you,” said Lauzon, a native of Bridgewater, Mass. “I wanted to do what I could for the (service members). We have been trying to visit two camps a day and meet and greets with everyone we can.”
Camp Ramadi was only one of the many stops on their tour. The fighters also visited Camp Habbaniyah, Camp Fallujah, Camp Taqaddum, and several others.
“We have been going base to base, doing meet and greets, teaching some Muay-Thai boxing, grappling and stuff like that,” said Rivera, a Milford, Mass., native. “Our country is at war right now and we have to support our troops. We live in the world’s greatest country and in my opinion this is the least I can do to give back to the country that has given me so much.”
At Camp Ramadi, the fighters divided the service members into two groups. Lauzon worked with one group on ground fighting and grappling techniques, and Rivera and Herring worked with the other group on stand-up and fighting in the clinch techniques.
Before they did any meet and greets or photos, the fighters took some time to grapple one on one with some service members.
“My favorite part of the day was that I got to grapple with some UFC fighters because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to get to fight with some pro fighters,” said Seaman Andrew Chase, a 22-year-old hospitalman from Eugene, Ore., with Regimental Combat Team 1.
For Rivera and Herring, the tour is not their first time visiting troops in a combat zone. Last year they visited troops in Afghanistan.
“This is my first time to Iraq, but I went to Afghanistan,” said Herring, an Amarillo, Texas, native. I like to really support the military; it gives me a chance to come out and work with the troops and see what is going on over here.”
The fighters’ visit may have helped service members physically with their fighting skills, but it was the mental morale boost that may carry them through the rest of their deployment.
“We’ve been here going on 4 months so it was nice to get that taste of home,” said Cpl. David Ammon, a 22-year-old machine gunner from Whitesville, Ky., with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1. “After this visit morale is at its highest point, possibly for the whole deployment.”
The fighters signed autographs and posed for photos with their supporters before flying to Camp Fallujah to show their support to other service members.