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Outside the Cage: MMA Crime Fighters


We often associate the term “crime fighters” with policemen or vigilante groups who take it upon themselves to protect and serve the people. In a fantastical sense, we even look to superheroes, although Spider-man and Batman wouldn’t be much without their weapons.

The truth is courage and perfect timing are the only traits a hero needs. There are countless stories of ill-prepared average Joe’s who went above and beyond in the face of danger, regardless of the consequences. Mixed martial arts’ prerogative is to prepare individuals for such instances.

Long before they masterfully locked in a guillotine choke or built up the strength for vicious leg kicks, fighters learned the basics of self-defense. Jon Jones and Michael Chandler are among those who have used MMA’s lessons to thwart would-be criminals. Sometimes the results lead to tragedy, as Joe Torrez learned in protecting his family, and other times to nonsense, like Phoenix Jones’ comic book-like crusade for justice. Either way, these fighters’ actions make them role models in and outside of an MMA ring.

Hours before his UFC 128 victory, Jones found an unexpected opponent in Paterson, N.J. He and his coaches were walking along a park when they heard screaming. A thief allegedly broke a windshield and stole a GPS unit, prompting Jones to spring into action. As Jones tells it, he kicked the thief’s ankles out and figure-foured him until police arrived. Ironically, Jones pursued a career as a police officer before becoming a fighter.

Chandler also tracked down a perp, although it carried considerably less fanfare. The former Bellator Lightweight Champion was in San Diego preparing for a Bellator 85 title match with Rick Hawn when he saw a man running from police. Chandler tripped the suspect, who he believes struck an officer, and walked away once the situation was under control. He won the fight and spoke sparsely about the incident.

World Series of Fighting heavyweight Mike Russow is the epitome of a crime fighter. After a morning training session, Russow changes into his blues and patrols Chicago’s most gang infested neighborhoods. On an average day, the veteran police officer works the 5 a.m. to 2 a.m. shift while moonlighting as a fighter.

Lately his on-duty activities have interfered with his performance in the Octagon. Following an 11 match winning streak, Russow lost back-to-back UFC fights, most recently to Shawn Jordan at UFC on Fox 6. When Russow hangs up his gloves, he will leave the sport for all the right reasons.

Being a good Samaritan means more than simply calling 911. Canadian UFC middleweight Nick Ring though as much when he saw a man and woman being assaulted by a group of teenagers. Ring was in Calgary when he drove by the crime in progress and once he got out of the car, the group scattered, but not before Ring and another bystander caught most of the attackers.

“This is not behavior that can be condoned. And you know what? Turning a blind eye to it, and this goes for everyone in society, don’t turn a blind eye to it. If you see something wrong, you go out there, and you straighten it out. The cops are there to help out, as well, but you’ve got to call them,” Ring said following the attack.

The prime example of a robbery gone wrong comes from an attempted mugging of MMA legend Renzo Gracie. Not only did Gracie leave the assailants bloody and bruised, he live tweeted the whole ordeal.

Gracie was leaving a New York area restaurant when two men tailed him. Apparently, they though he was drunk and found a seemingly easy target. The men caught up to Gracie and one ask for a cigarette before reaching for the Brazilian’s wallet.

“I hit him with a left hook and a straight right hand,” Gracie said in an interview following the attempted mugging. “He fell. Then I went to grab the second one, and he took off running.” Gracie caught up to the coward and beat him until his eyes resembled “raccoon eyes.”

Aside for the overused expression “crime doesn’t pay,” these failed hoodlums also learned that crime can be very painful.