‘I always got a kick out of fighting’

“It usually hits me when I’m actually driving to the venue,” Eastern Michigan University student Greg Calvart said.

“I start to get the ‘What the heck am I doing?’ feeling. Then, I get there, lie down and chill. You get this weird feeling before you have to fight. Wrestlers and fighters know this feeling. You feel like you want to puke, but you can’t because you haven’t eaten anything. Music starts to play. Then, you start walking. The lights are bright, so you can’t see anyone. It’s just you and the other person. All the training you’ve prepared for weeks in advance comes up to this one moment.”

Then, the fight starts. Thoughts of his last fight are still fresh in his memory. Calvart said he’s always been a fighter growing up. It’s one of the reasons he first decided to join the mixed martial arts club at EMU.

“Ever since I was a little kid, I always got a kick out of fighting,” he said. “This is the sport that will allow me to fight and not get in trouble for it.”

Calvart has been a part of the MMA Club at EMU since the 2009 fall semester. Since then, he has tallied up the overall record for the EMU MMA Club at (36-6) and is now the president and the current head coach of the club.

“We train with wrestling, Jui-jitsu, boxing and Muay Thai,” Calvart said. “We start practice off with warm-ups, and then we work on techniques and then some live-sparring. Everyone trains with everyone.”

Dexter Hobdy, a member of EMU’s MMA Club, at a weight of 143 pounds won his last fight with a technical knock-out in the first round. Hobdy has been involved fully with EMU’s MMA Club for two years.

“We like what we are doing,” he said. “We aren’t just here because it’s something to do. We have a place to train. We have our own place to go to and be successful.”

According to Calvart, the MMA Club at EMU is the only one present at a collegiate level across the state of Michigan. EMU’s MMA Club competes at an amateur level and all the funding for fight expenses are paid by promoters.

“As far as I know, no other school supports MMA like we do,” Calvart said. “If others do, we’d love to talk.”

So far, the club hasn’t had a member lose a fight to start off their year. Lauren Foley, another EMU MMA Club member, won the other fight this past weekend. She won her fight by technical knock-out and took home the women’s 125-pound championship belt.

“This year, off and on, we have about four or five active women fighters,” Calvart said. We don’t usually get a lot of girls to come out. We got a lot of recruits this year. Fajita Fest went well. We got a lot of guys with loads of potential.”

Patrick Simpson, another EMU MMA Club member, has wrestled since he was in fifth grade. He wrestled competitively in high school, but
still had the love for competition once he graduated.

“I heard about the group from a friend that used to attend Eastern,” Simpson said. “I had just transferred from [West Virginia University] and decided to check it out. I liked it. We get good training here. Greg knows his stuff.”

Simpson fights at a weight class of 125 pounds at an amateur level. He doesn’t get paid for a win or a loss; he said he gets to train though.

“Regional bouts are usually three rounds and last three minutes each,” Simpson said. “Title bouts are usually five rounds. We train five-minute rounds here. So when we get into fights, three-minute rounds are nothing.”

Hobdy said preparation leading up to the fight, or bout, is a lot more hard work than the fight itself. He says that training and weight lifting increases at least two weeks prior to his fights.

“I try to train about four hours a day, every day leading up to my fight,” he said. “The week before my date to fight, I’ll do less training. Before the start of the actual fight, I try to get mentally ready. I tell myself, ‘Don’t lose. There are too many people that came to watch, too much to afford to lose.’ I make sure to have fun with it. It’s way more work than the actual fight.”

If interested in preparing and training with the MMA Club at EMU, practices are held every day on the second floor of the Rec/IM at 7:30 p.m. Also, look out for the MMA Club to host bouts sometime in November.

“It’s a fun place just to let loose,” Hobdy said. “It’s not every day you find a place to punch someone.”

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