Sports

Saunders takes crack at fight title

Oak Harbor resident Jeremy Saunders has been in several fights, but possibly none more significant than the one tonight, June 7.

The 29-year-old kickboxer will duke it out in his first ever title fight, as he goes for the Washington State Pankration, or Ultimate Fighting belt, at the Everett Armory. Saunders, who sports a 6-3 record in Pankration and a 5-0 record in kickboxing, will take on Scott Norton for the title at 170-pounds.

“This is my big thing coming up,” he said.

Training out of Pearson’s Black Belt Academy in Everett, Saunders is not only excited at the prospect of winning a title, but reaping the rewards that would come with it. He has already received offers to fight in places like Japan and London, but things have just not worked out.

“Nothing is solidified yet, but this should help get me into that door,” Saunders said.

Although he has been involved in martial arts since he was 14, Saunders has only been competing seriously in the Pankration style for over two years.

“It was just like the next step,” he said. “Me and my friends, we just kind of got into it, playing with it and now we’re really serious about it.”

Pankration fighting is an ancient style of martial arts that incorporates punching, throwing, kicking, grappling, chokes and just about any other style of hand-to-hand combat you can think of. The goal is to get your opponents to submit or knock them out in the allotted time. If the match does not end that way, judges make the decision just as if it were a boxing match.

Many people will be able to associate the sport with the Ultimate Fighting Championships, which started in the early 1990s. In the past people have accused the sport of being too brutal, something Saunders has changed over the years.

“When Ultimate Fighting first came out people thought of it like a human cock fight,” he said. “Over the past few years it’s really evolved, it’s more of a sport now.”

Everything is sanctioned by the state and safety is always a major concern according to Saunders.

“I’ve done kickboxing, I’ve done this and I’d rather do this,” he said. “In kickboxing someone’s always trying to punch you in the head, kick you or whatever, with Pankration you get really tired but you’re not always getting punched in the head.”

Along with Saunders, Oak Harbor’s Jason Vellow will also fight at 135-pounds in the novice Pankration level in tonight’s event. Vellow is 1-0 after defeating a previously unbeaten fighter.

Their fights are two of 15 that are scheduled to take place at the Everett Extreme Challenge number eight. The event begins at 8 p.m. tonight, June 7 at the Everett National Guard Armory at 2730 Oaks Street. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the event is expected to sell out with a capacity of approximately 800 people. Go to www.pearsonsma.com for more information.

Saunders hopes to bring a similar event to Oak Harbor sometime in August.

For those interested in trying their hand at this kind of fighting, Saunders has a fight club in town. He also ran Oak Harbor Martial Arts for ten years and plans to get the classes, which have been on hold, going again sometime soon. Those interested should call Jeremy at 679-1164 for more information.

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