St. Dismas earns first career MMA victory

Rodney St. Dismas, left, and his training partner Daniel Miller discuss strategy hours before the mixed martial arts match in Winchester on Saturday. Kevin Green/Daily
Joe Bauserman of Misfits Martial Arts presents Rodney St. Dismas with the blue belt in Brazilian jujitsu following St. Dismas' victory over Chris Gatton on Saturday. Photo courtesy Mike Besant

Winchester native Rodney St. Dismas is now a perfect 1-0 in his amateur mixed martial arts career.

At Revolution Fight Series 11 last Saturday at the Winchester Family Sports Center, St. Dismas claimed his first victory by submitting Chris Gatton of Clarksburg, West Virginia, with a guillotine in the second round of the featherweight match.

The night, as well as the aftermath, carried a lot of emotional weight and significance for St. Dismas.

For example, many of his friends and family members were in attendance.

“When the cage door closes, you are technically alone … but I felt like I had an army behind me,” St. Dismas said.

Joe Bauserman, owner and operator of Misfits Martial Arts as well as St. Dismas’ trainer, added to that by awarding him with a blue belt in jujitsu during the post-fight ceremony.

“In Brazilian jujitsu, unlike a lot of other martial arts, the blue belt is a huge, huge step … he really earned it,” Bauserman explained.

Of the surprise presentation, St. Dismas said, “It’s hard for me to put that into words … I worked very hard to get that and it means the world to me.”

The fight itself was enough of a wake-up call for both fighters, especially St. Dismas.

While trading punches and grappling for control in the opening round, St. Dismas noted how critical that first blow was to the rest of the fight.

“Once that happened, I understood that I was in there to compete and I wasn’t going to go away,” St. Dismas said.

Non-title amateur MMA fights are three, 3-minute rounds in length.

Bauserman added that St. Dismas “always picks it up in the second round and he did exactly what he was supposed to do. He used his strikes to set up his submission.”

St. Dismas, 23, said that he felt “very well prepared. Joe [Bauserman] and the fighters at Misfits did a great job training me.”

An experienced fighter and former title holder in Revolution, Bauserman said that training for MMA is different than other forms of fighting.

“The lights are on you, there’s higher adrenaline and you have the fear of getting smashed in the face,” Bauserman said.

Bauserman explained that tougher training matches in the gym can help take away a lot of that fear.

To accomplish this, Bauserman employed a training exercise commonly referred to as the “shark tank.”

He explained that the “shark tank” is where a fighter is faced with a new opponent every minute of a simulated match.

In St. Dismas’ case, some of his opponents were 100 and even 150 pounds bigger than him.

“They’re really pushing you to your cardio threshold,” St. Dismas said.

On the day of the event, Bauserman and St. Dismas’ training partner, Daniel Miller, worked to help St. Dismas build up his cardio and adrenaline.

Bauserman said that in order for St. Dismas to be completely ready, he needed to achieve a second wind by sparring and exercising in various ways.

“When you are first getting up to the first wind, you get really, really tired,” Bauserman said and added, “Once you break through it, you level off and stay at that level.”

As a result of this extensive training, St. Dismas said he did not feel too tired after the fight.

Following the match, both fighters displayed a great amount of respect toward one another.

Even in defeat and sporting a sizeable gash above his heavily bruised and swollen left eye, Gatton was hardly the picture of demoralization and even appeared to be exhilarated.

“Oh I feel great, just wish I could have won,” Gatton said.

St. Dismas said, “I just want to express my appreciation and gratitude toward my opponent … I threw everything at him and he kept coming.”

St. Dismas said that Gatton actually reached out to him after the fight.

“He basically congratulated me on the win and encouraged me to keep pursuing my fighting,” St. Dismas said.

Moving forward, St. Dismas, a 2010 Sherando High School graduate, will be moving to Virginia Beach to continue his education in nursing at Tidewater Community College.

While school and work will come first, he said he will keeping mixed martial arts on his radar.

“I feel as though martial arts are ingrained in me and … I don’t see myself ever letting that go,” St. Dismas said.

Following the fight, Bauserman said that St. Dismas has a lot of potential as a fighter.

“As long as he has time to train, he’s got the potential to go as far as he wants to go,” Bauserman said.

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or

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