Area MMA fighters set for clashes

Two title fights are on this Saturday night’s fight card for the Revolution Fight Series at Body Renew Family Sports Center in Winchester.

Joshua Thompson, of Charles Town, West Virginia, is one of the fighters on the Super Heavyweight Muay Thai title card.  He will be fighting Donte Stith, of Ivor.  The other title fight is the 135-pound bantamweight Muay Thai fight between Kyler Tyler, of Loudoun County, and Will Anderson, of Baltimore.

Jessica Sapp, event promoter,  explained the Revolution Fight Series is for amateur mixed martial arts fighters, and noted that the difference between mixed martial arts and Muay Thai is that Muay Thai does not feature ground-game elements such as wrestling and grappling.

“Once a fighter hits the ground, the referee gives that fighter a chance to get to his feet,” Sapp said.

One fighter who will be looking to start and advance his career on Saturday is 23-year-old Winchester native Rodney St. Dismas.

St. Dismas will be competing in the 145-pound featherweight division against 27-year-old Chris Gatton, of Martinsburg, West Virginia.

“After high school, I was really looking for an avenue to keep fighting, so I fell into jujitsu,” St. Dismas said.

St. Dismas, who wrestled at Sherando High School, said it was important to add other elements to his game in order to pursue a career in mixed martial arts.

“Grappling is where my strength is, but when you are fighting, you can’t really ignore other parts of your game,” he said.

Along with Joe Bauserman, the owner and operator of Misfits Martial Arts in Winchester, St. Dismas has been working to enhance new aspects of his game, including striking and boxing elements.

Bauserman’s training program, St. Dismas said, also included carefully monitoring his weight reductions leading up to the fight.

“[Bauserman] was really adamant about making safe weight reductions,” St. Dismas said.

On the other side, Gatton has been fighting on and off since 2008.

Gatton, who trains and instructs fighters at Elite Martial Arts in Martinsburg, West Virginia, said he took a break following his first fight because he “did not have money to afford training at a decent gym.”

Gatton then restarted his amateur career in 2012, and this upcoming match against St. Dismas will be the fourth of his career.

For Gatton, the motivation is simply about being around the fighting lifestyle.

“I just love to get in there and test myself,” Gatton said.

Competing in events like this, Gatton said, is also an opportunity to enhance his teaching credentials.

Since the featherweight fights are first on the card, Gatton said he enjoys sticking around and watching the other fights unfold.

“I almost feel like that’s cheating because I get to watch the rest of the fight without paying for a ticket,” Gatton said.

Thompson, who has competed in two amateur mixed martial arts events in the last two years, noted how “on top of it” Revolution is when it comes to fighters’ health.  He said it “takes a lot” for promoters to keep a healthy fight card together.

In fact, Gatton was a late addition to the card two weeks ago when the previous competitor dropped out due to an injury.

Gatton said the biggest issue for his preparation was making sure that his “cardio was where it needed to be for [the featherweight class].”

For a fighter such as St. Dismas, this weekend’s event represents an exciting opportunity to compete in his hometown. “It’s kind of like fighting in my backyard,” St. Dismas added.

Although St. Dismas said that he has plans for his career, he is not looking too far past this weekend.

“I just want to compete at my potential, do my best and have fun,” St. Dismas said.

The doors at the Family Sports Center will open Saturday at 6 p.m. More information about tickets and pricing can be found at http://www.revolutionfights.com.

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com