2/24/2013 6:00:00 AM MMA fighters train, bond in Kingman 'Family' finds togetherness in sport growing in popularity
Shannon Reid, far right, is joined by teammate Brian Skinner, trainer Jamie Point and Rick Lucero at a World Fighting Championship promotion at the Avi Resort and Casino Jan. 19 in Laughlin. Reid and Skinner will be fighting April 27 at the Avi. MARCO VALLE/Courtesy
KINGMAN - At least once a week, Shannon Reid makes the drive down U.S. 93 from Las Vegas to Kingman in order to train.
Reid, 27, started training for mixed martial arts in 2010, but finds the hands-on training she gets in Kingman and the camaraderie is something that she can't get in Vegas.
"It gets exhausting being in a car, but it's well worth it," Reid said. "Nobody is going to give me the kind of preparation that Jamie (Point) and Krys (Ruesch) are going to give me.
"I'm training out of a couple really good schools in Vegas, but as far as the individual fight preparation and the game preparation, I can't get that anywhere else. Jamie is going to sit down and watch my opponent over and over again and pick her weaknesses apart and play to my strengths. With the big gyms in Vegas, who knows?"
Reid is 1-1 after winning her last fight Jan. 5 in Laughlin at King of the Cage, where she fought at 145 pounds. She is currently training for her next fight on April 27 in Laughlin where she will go down to 135.
"I'm starting now," Reid said. "No more pizza and beer for me."
Come April, Reid will be fighting alongside her teammate, Brian Skinner. The two, along with Ruesch, who turned pro in October and is currently out for the next few months after suffering a torn meniscus, have formed a bond that goes well beyond the competitions and the training in the gym.
"It's more than a team. We are a family," Skinner said. "We bleed together. We sweat together. We call each other when we are upset. We call each other when we are happy. We trust each other. You can't train with each other unless you trust them. I've fought since 2010. It's taken me three years to understand that."
The trio fought in competitions in Parker, Laughlin, Phoenix and Las Vegas, and because of recent successes they have started to put Kingman on the map.
"For the first time ever, Kingman has a group of fighters that are training and are going to go out and win fights," Ruesch said. "For me, this was the one thing that I was noticeably better than everyone else. I would go and play football, but I wasn't better than so and so who was first-string linebacker. When I came to the gym, I was a first-string kickboxer."
Ruesch joins a sport that has grown in popularity over the last decade. But to an outsider, watching MMA for the first time might look extremely violent and bloody. Ruesch, Skinner and Reid are quick to point out all the safety precautions that go into a fight and the mandates by a state's athletic commission, which oversees the fights.
"They see two guys going in there and beating each other up," Ruesch said. "But there are a lot of precautions that are going into the fight."
For example, fighters are required to get blood tests every six months, which can get pricey for amateur fighters such as Skinner and Reid.
"You don't want anybody that doesn't have clean blood to be in the cage with you. You bleed a lot," Skinner said. "In a big way, they are protecting us. It's just a little pricey."
Ruesch, who paid out of pocket until he turned pro added: "It's a long-term investment into yourself."
State athletic commissions are also taking concussions seriously in MMA, especially in light of recent studies regarding football players.
Because of the risk for concussions, Skinner said that the refs are trained to watch the eyeballs for any kind of rolling.
"They really take it seriously," Skinner said. "When we go in there, it's like a drag race from hell and they have to protect us."
According to Ruesch, fighters must get a license before stepping into the cage. Part of the process is a lengthy physical that details everything, including surgeries from seven year's ago.
"Every time you fight, at the amateur level, you go and get your blood work done and they give you this card. From there you get your license," Ruesch said. "For a pro, we have our own licenses and they keep track of everything. If you go into the fight and the doctor looks into your eyes and you don't have a concussion, and when you step out of the cage and you have a concussion - they keep track of all of that.
"Unlike sports like the NFL and boxing, MMA is a lot safer. You could get a concussion in the first round of boxing and still go 10 rounds."
But while the risk for injury is the same for any other sport, it's a sport that continues to grow in popularity. Through the Ultimate Fighting Championships, MMA has brought in record Pay-Per-View profits and in 2011 had a world record attendance and record gate for an MMA event.
It's also a sport that has transformed Reid, who wanted to wrestle in high school but couldn't.
"It's really giving me the confidence to be successful in life," Reid said.
Reid is scheduled for six fights this year, although sometimes her opponents flake out. Nevertheless, she will continue to train for her next fight while working to bring her weight down to 135, which is a far cry from being 245 when she first started working out with Ruesch and Point.
"It's just made me a into a whole new person," Reid said. "I'm in the best shape of my life."
Posted: Monday, April 8, 2013
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I'm Shannon's Mother. I am still in awe of her determination, and persistence. You go girl! I love you with all of my heart.