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MMA in Petaluma: Fighting for a good cause

One quick, gloved jab connected to a jaw with a pop and the crowd erupted as they saw spit and sweat fly across the ring.

Petaluma Fight Night gathered mixed martial arts fighters from across Northern California and from across multiple generations on Saturday at the Petaluma Veteran's Memorial Building.

Aaron O'Niell, a 9-year-old fighter from Petaluma, sat in the cafeteria eating a bowl of chili following his victory in the first fight of the night, surrounded by family and friends wearing white T-shirts that were printed with his name in red.

Petaluma Fight Night

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"It was a tough match and it was fun," O'Niell said. "I'm going to have a party."

His favorite part of the night? The "kicks and the punches and the fights," he said.

The event doubled as a fundraiser for a young girl engaged in her own serious fight. Stephanie Cody, an 8-year-old from Rohnert Park, is currently in remission with Stage 3 Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma.

T-shirts, wristbands, and raffle tickets were sold in the lobby in support of Cody, a girl who "loves animals, Legos, and Minecraft," according to flyers handed out at the event.

The young warrior was not in attendance Saturday, but her grandfather, Herb Cody, told a crowd of more than 400 MMA fans that Stephanie was "there in spirit."

"She would be here smiling along, if she could," said Herb Cody. To be fighting a battle against cancer at such a young age is a tough fight, he said, but the family appreciated any and all support.

Local amateur fighters filled the 10-fight card, strutting toward the ring before their fights, accompanied by their chosen music. Later, with bloodied eyebrows, dripping sweat, they awaited results from professional fighter Antonio McKee.


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