In these mainstream days of MMA, much of what a fan reads is negative stories and news.
This fighter peed hot. That fighter was charged with a crime. The growth of the sport has made any breaking news story more visible than ever.
With that said, on Friday I had the opportunity to attend a special event that differs greatly from the norm. PureCombat is hosting a show in Clovis, Calif., on Saturday, so with the fighters in town the organization took its athletes and teams to nearby Fresno Children’s Hospital to give back to the community.
I decided to hitch along to see the fighters interact with children that were admitted for care. As we arrived, we were immediately ushered into an area that was filled with video games and teenage patients that were into a hardcore showdown of DJ Hero. At first the kids were a bit shy, but quickly came around as if they had been friends for years. Billy Evangelista jumped in on drums and Brandon Cash rocked out on vocals with a guitar-playing youth to “Kung Fu Fighting.”
Following the jam session, the fighters were split into groups to go room-to-room to offer encouragement to those in need. I quickly noticed they were very good at communicating with the patients and putting smiles on their faces. Martin Sandoval, Raul Sandoval, and Evangelista interacted with Spanish-speaking children.
A child asked the group in Spanish who was the best fighter in the room, and Evangelista was quick to raise his hand. He laughed loudly when I sold him out to the other fighters, and they all gave him a hard time about it.
The group gathered around for a photo with a child, and he reacted with an ear-to-ear smile and then rushed to show his mother all the autographed pictures he had just received.
Mike Guidry, Lavar Johnson, Anthony Ruiz and Cash walked into a room to take photos. Many children wanted to pose with Ruiz and his PureCombat championship belt.
Robert Emerson and Shane del Rosario were on another floor passing out a bunch of goodies courtesy of their sponsors. Others that attended the event were “TUF” veteran Jason Von Flue, Trisha Pinon, and a well-dressed Tony Ferguson. There were others as well; my apologies for not naming each of the kindhearted.
“I want to thank you guys again for what you did today,” said a mother of one of the children. “It really meant a lot to my daughter and lifted her spirits up.”