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MMA fighting growing in popularity among women

Jayde Sheeley wins her fight in front of local crowd

Video Clip of super heavyweight fight included

While mixed martial arts may not be at the top of the list for all women’s favorite activities, it is becoming more and more common to find women entering the cage to prove their mettle.

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Jayde Sheeley of Bellefontaine, the 20-year-old daughter of IT Fight Series organizer Scott Sheeley, grapples with Christina Adams of Hicksville during a Saturday evening mixed martial arts competition at Bellefontaine High School. (EXAMINER PHOTO | REUBEN MEES)

Such was the case Saturday night during the IT Fight Series 24 that took place at the Bellefontaine High School.

In one of the top-billed fights of the night, Bellefontaine native Jayde Sheeley and Christina Adams of Hicksville competed in a 125-pound weight class. The matchup went the distance with Sheeley winning by a split decision.

“Even if I lose, it’s just so much fun to get in there and prove yourself,” Sheeley said, noting that many of her friends and sorority sisters at Ohio University think she’s a bit crazy for taking part in the sport.

“It’s not that popular with the girls I know. A lot of them don’t understand it. Most girls don’t want to get in a ring and wrestle with a bunch of guys, because really that’s who you’ve got to train with.”

But Sheeley, 20, whose father is fight promoter and UFC trainer Scott Sheeley, said she grew up around the sport and it came natural.

“Of course my dad was a big inspiration, but with that comes a bit of intimidation because he is so good and I just do it for fun,” she said, noting that she learned kung fu at a young age and has had experience with other martial arts forms over the years.

“I was never good at sports in high school, but this is something I liked,” Sheeley said. “I didn’t start taking it seriously until a few years ago.”

“We try to set up fights around when I can be home and get in a good training camp,” she said, noting that she fought her first fight in November, but will likely wait until summer to fight again.

But keeping in shape is a part of her everyday regimen.

“There’s a boxing gym at OU and I try to go there twice a week. Plus I come home about every weekend and we’re up and running at 5:30 for ROTC so that keeps my cardio up.”

Her opponent, who was in her first live fight on Saturday, said she was drawn to the sport by the determination the fighters show.

“Three years ago, I went and watched the UFC fights with a friend,” Adams, 32, said. “The fighters showed so much heart. I wanted to get in there and do it.”

And she said she’s excited to see how women’s involvement in the sport grows.

“There are a lot more women in the UFC,” Adams said. “I’m just excited to see where they are going to take it.”

While this is not the first time women have fought in the Iron Tiger events, Scott Sheeley said it is growing in popularity and acceptance.

“I think people are more educated about it,” he said. “Just like when cage-fighting started, it seemed so violent, but it is actually just a combination of wrestling and kickboxing. The cage is there to keep people from getting injured if they fall out of the ring.”

Despite the weather, 200 to 300 people turned out to view the event, which included three pro fights and five amateur fights.

In the main event, Timmy McCavit of Bellefontaine used a guillotine choke to win by sub- mission over Julian Reynolds of Cincinnati just 57 seconds into the first round.

In the other two pro fights, Ronnie Jordan won by unanimous decision over Steve Smith and Tony Binder won by split decision over Chad Kelly.

The other four amateur fights saw Alex Stanfield win by submis- sion over Tym Gilbert, after 1:51 into the first round; Tim Frye won by submission at the 2:51 mark of the first round in his fight against Nick Rumer; Eric Puehler was declared winner by TKO after the first round of his fight with Payton Rose; and Felix Catheline took a unanimous decision over Ian Miller in the super heavyweight fight.

In video clip: Felix Catheline of Youngstown, in the blue corner with white trunks, and Ian Miller of Marysville, fighting in the red corner with black trunks, fight in the super heavyweight class during Saturday's IT Fight Series 24 at the Bellefontaine High School.

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