Cagefighters clash at Lakeview Arena

Brice Burge

The large hexagonal cage sitting in the middle of Lakeview Arena looked out of place.   Its mat colored red to hide the potential blood that would be spilled and its high fabric mesh walls to enclose the fury inside were a stark contrast to the bright and open feeling the arena’s sheet of ice usually brings to its spectators. However, last Saturday’s entertainment was not of the Marquette Redmen hockey team, but of Superior Fights mixed martial arts (MMA) by Upper Peninsula Cagefighting.

The 12-card fight showcased 24 fighters from all over the U.P. and Wisconsin, but also showcased two Northern Michigan University students. Seniors Mike Robare and John Robydek both won their fights in the second round and both with knockouts.

Robare fought in the third fight of the night against Brian Payne in the 185-pound division. The fight was a Muay Thai (MT) match, meaning that set of rules were used compared to fights in the MMA category. Robare said he was nervous going into his first MT bout, but was able to use it to his advantage.

“First round I had some jitters going into it with the big crowd, tried to be patient and get an idea of how his style is, so I just kind of stayed my distance and landed leg kicks to his thighs.”

In the second round, Robare took control, sending his right foot into Payne’s left cheekbone. The kick echoed through the arena like a firework had just exploded, and the crowd oohed and aahed as if the shot was part of a Fourth of July display. Payne was able to stand up and fight, but was ended quickly with two swift knees to his torso.

“I had a lot of respect for (Payne) after that. Anyone who can stand and take a shot like that and have the will to fight is very respectable.”

Robydek faced off in the second-to-last fight of the night against Tony Williams in a 150-pound MMA fight. Just like Robare, Robydek cruised through the first round before making his move in the second. Trapping Williams in a clinch hold, Robydek was able to deliver three quick knees to the bridge of his nose to end the fight.

“I felt really confident because the whole time I was in control,” Robydek said. “Going to the second round, I had to keep the match on our feet and because of that I was able to win.”

Neither fighter will be participating in “Put Up or Shut Up” fight night, sponsored by Superior Warriors, also in the Lakeview Arena on Friday, April 8. However, junior Alex Ratliff will be fighting under the Muay Thai rules. His opponent is yet to be named, but he will be the only NMU student fighting.

“There’s a bit of pressure, fighting in Marquette in front of your friends and family is kind of a big deal,” Ratliff said. “You want to put forth the extra effort to balance the anxiety.”

“Put Up or Shut Up” fight night tickets are still available at the Thai House on Third Street and fights will start at 7 p.m.