Fort Polk soldiers train with big-name MMA stars
By MICAH PICKERING | Beauregard Daily News | Published: December 10, 2020
(Tribune News Service) — Fort Polk received some very special guests last month. It was UFC Patriot Day at Fort Polk, and soldiers got the chance to do some live combat training with big names from the world of professional mixed martial arts .
In what was described as both a morale booster, as well as a training session, the soldiers got the chance to learn from top notch fighters such as Jeremy Horn, Houston Alexander, Ryan Jenson and Juan Adams.
Each of the fighters ran live combat drills with the soldiers that involved striking, takedowns, grappling and close-quarter combat. The soldiers learned skills relating to MMA and Modern Army Combatives.
"Our overall goal is to raise morale, and teach these soldiers a thing or two," said Spc. John Gallardo. Gallardo was one of the soldiers assisting the fighters during the drills. He said that the fighters coming to Fort Polk had a positive impact on the soldiers.
The Leesville Daily Leader spoke to each of the fighters about what it was like to hang out and train with Fort Polk soldiers.
"It's an honor to be here and to get to interact with some of the troops. Because of guys like these, I get to do what I get to do. So, I definitely respect them," said Juan Adams.
Adams is a heavyweight fighter who has had multiple fights in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Adams expressed his admiration for the hard work and sacrifice made by those who choose to enlist in the military. Adams also noted that he enjoyed touring Fort Polk and learning about what life was like on post.
Adams said: "It means a lot to me that the army reached out to me to come visit and do this. I graduated from a military college myself. It's really cool to see the inner workings and day to day life of these soldiers."
Houston Alexander led an intense session of drills that emphasized quick takedowns, and striking.
"We are boosting morale, and at the same time we are showing our soldiers how to put someone down on the ground without playing with them," Alexander said. "We don't have time to play with the enemy. We don't have time to play with anybody that's in front of us. So we gotta take them down and move on."
Alexander is a world-renowned MMA Fighter known for his years fighting in promotions such as the UFC and Bellator MMA. His first-round knockout victory over Keith Jardine in 2007 is still one of the most memorable debuts in UFC history. Alexander expressed his deep appreciation and respect for the military.
He said: "It's an honor [to be here]. These are our men and women who are protecting our country, and they deserve our respect."
Horn led an intense grappling session with the soldiers. Horn is an MMA legend who has had 119 professional fights with 91 victories.
Horn noted that it was fun for everyone involved, and afterward he talked with the soldiers and answered their questions about his storied MMA career. Horn took great pride in being able to give back to the soldiers in any way possible.
"It's huge for me. I didn't join the military myself, and I'm somewhat regretful of tha. When I was younger it wasn't foremost in my mind," Horn said. "The path I took was martial arts. As I got older I really have learned a great deal of appreciation for all they do, and for all they sacrifice. It is such a privilege and honor to give back in one way or another. I am really thankful that I get to do things like this. It is one of the ways that I can give back and show my appreciation to the military."
Jensen taught the soldiers about tactical combat training drills, something he is all too familiar with. Jenson is a well traveled MMA fighter who competed in top promotions like UFC, Bellator, and Strikeforce. He is also one of the driving forces behind Complete Tactical Consultants, which offers anyone a comprehensive training program that combines skills and techniques from advanced military training, and combat sports.
"Everything I did with these soldiers today is what we offer on our [Complete Tactical Consultants] website. What we do is all about building people into better people."
Jensen expressed that he is a proud supporter of the U.S. military and is a strong advocate for more tactical combat training for the soldiers.
"I support these guys one thousand percent," Jensen siad. "We need more training for all of our troops and for our law enforcement."