Chris Strunk (kneeling) presents his fighters, Jason Fultz, Eddie Stephens and Chris Holmes.

Four nights a week, three local men put themselves through the paces, taking their bodies to the limit and beyond.

They run sprints. They shadow box, do crunches, and spar.

All to prepare themselves for what many consider the ultimate battle.

Mixed Martial Arts.

Jason Fultz, Chris “Gunner” Holmes and Eddie “Diesel” Stephens will battle tonight at the London National Guard Armory in Reality Cage Fighting, a card presented by Warrior MMA.

For Fultz and Holmes, this will be their first foray into the world of MMA. Stephens, a 6-6, 286 pound monster, is currently 1-1 inside the cage.

All three men train at Premier Martial Arts, and are a member of Team Premier.

“This is a new program we are offering,” said Master Will Schneider. “MMA is a rising sport, and there is a demand for it. People want a quality program, and this is something Premier offers nationwide.”

Getting these men ready falls in the hands (and feet) of Chris Strunk, who has been a student of Schneider’s for many years and has a lot of training under his belt. “I have all the confidence in the world in Chris,” Schneider said. “He’s trained a lot of people.”

While having never competed in MMA himself, Strunk, 34, has been a martial artist since the age of five, and is a former U.S. Marine. And he shows no mercy when he’s training the trio, just like a drill sergeant would.

“MMA is closer to actual street combat,” Strunk said. “I expect these three to win their matches tonight.”

Fultz, 34, has been a practicing martial artist for 18 years, and said that he’s doing this just to prove something to himself.

“At my age, I’m not looking to make a career out of MMA,” Fultz said. “Ten years ago, I would have made a career out of it. Now, I’m just looking to prove something to myself.”

Holmes is a former U.S Navy boxer who has only been in the martial arts for two years. At 33, he has seen actual combat, so he has no nerves going into his first match inside a cage.

“After being in combat, nothing from MMA is going to bother me,” Holmes said. He added that he might want to make a career out of this. “If it happens, yes, if not, I’m happy with it. I enjoy working with these guys. But I know when I get in the cage it’s going to be a while different ball game.”

When asked about the differences between MMA and boxing, the man they call “Gunner” said, “it’s a world of difference.”

“MMA fighters would take boxers, hands down,” Holmes said. “I wasn’t used to getting kicked in the legs as a boxer, and that makes a world of difference.”

All three fighters agree that this training has been some of the hardest they have ever done.

“It’s tougher, the training,” Fultz said. “As far as the discipline goes, it’s a bit more relaxed than martial arts. But you train harder, for offense and defense, not just defense. You train for combat.” And all three are confident in their skills, and ready to rumble Friday night.

“I figure we will all three come out with good wins,” Holmes said.”

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