Sunday, January 28, 2007


Forget the ring and take a step inside the octagon. Ultimate fighting’s rise has created a new breed of American brawler.

BETTENDORF, Iowa The red-brick gym just a block from the Mississippi River sits tucked among a rundown karaoke bar, a white house straight out of “That ’70s Show” and a candy store.

From the outside, Champions Fitness Center looks like a small town’s small bar, the place flannel-clad John Deere workers go after the second shift, where farmers looking for some fun in the city venture when it’s too cold to plant or till.

The only hint that this spot helped spawn a sport that’s fast and bloody — a mix of martial arts and wrestling, the kind of no-holds-barred brawl you’d expect at a roadside bar, not featured on television — is a sign that reads, “Miletich Fighting Systems.”

Inside the cramped gym is a corner room with wrestling mats and guys who wear shirts that say things like “Fighting Solves Everything.”

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