It is raw and primal and it is delivered without apology or hesitation. It could be delivered by a foot or a knee or a fist. When the contact finds bone and flesh, well, it only encourages another strike and another and another, until the pain inflicted cracks, as an example, not only a rib but the will as well.
"It has all the elements you need to survive a life-and-death situation," featherweight Marcello Cassero said. "It can't get any more exciting than that."
Unless of course you don't survive, which also would be pretty exciting but of course not in a good way. That may read a little flippant but there will be nothing that casual this Saturday night at Grace Pavilion. Those who like it raw and primal will get an eyeful at a Cage Combat event.
Doors will open at 4:45 p.m. and the smacking will begin at 6. Up to a dozen mixed martial arts events are scheduled, seven professional and five amateur. If an amateur fails to show up, it won't be a surprise. After all, he could experience a beating for free and who wants to volunteer for that?
A true MMA fighter would, a fighter who hears the call of the wild when he steps in the cage or ring, a fighter who sees a future for himself or herself in the sport. And if along the way to professional maturation there's a visit or two to the doctor and a painkiller to get through the night, oh well.
"Yes, of course, I will throw punches," said welterweight Jordan Williams, glancing at his swollen left hand.
On Friday, eight days before the Cage Combat event, Williams' left hand looked like he had puffed it up with a bicycle tire pump. No knuckles were visible. The back of his hand was pillow, like it was a special effect, not something, Williams guessed, that hit someone's hip the wrong way.
"I can feel it pulsating, like a heartbeat," Williams said.
But will that discourage him from into stepping into the cage for his first pro fight? Hardly. Williams wouldn't have moved two years ago from Placerville in the Sierras to Santa Rosa if a little swollen hand was going to bother him. Even in the foothills Williams had heard about the NorCal Fighting Alliance, an MMA training facility.
"I heard this was the place to be," said Williams, 22.
Of course it had to be proven to Williams that NorCal was the place to be. Williams had been training at a club near his home and was experiencing success. He had progressed to the point that Williams was beating his instructor, forcing him to tap out.
"I thought I was pretty good," said Williams, 6-foot-1, 180 pounds.
And then he stepped into the ring against David Terrell, who owns NorCal.
"Oh my gosh!" was Williams first reaction. "This is a whole new level. This guy is straight bad ass."
Terrell is an MMA legend, an ex-Ultimate Fighting Championship contender, and Terrell took Williams to school and took him to school again and again, and Williams was immediately convinced NorCal was the place to be. He found he was not alone as other fighters like welterweight Dom Waters (hometown Napa) moved to Santa Rosa to train with Terrell.
Read all of the PD's fire coverage here