Kodiak Daily Mirror - MMA event a hit in Kodiak
  
MMA event a hit in Kodiak
by Derek Clarkston
Aug 19, 2014 | 303 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
People cheer on Jaron Steele in his fight against Colten Goracke in “Rumble on the Rock” Saturday at the Kodiak Island Fairgrounds. (Derek Clarkston photo)
People cheer on Jaron Steele in his fight against Colten Goracke in “Rumble on the Rock” Saturday at the Kodiak Island Fairgrounds. (Derek Clarkston photo)
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Spectators watch Ethan Barker fight Samuel Malutin at “Rumble on the Rock” Saturday evening at the Kodiak Island Fairgrounds. (Derek Clarkston photo)
Spectators watch Ethan Barker fight Samuel Malutin at “Rumble on the Rock” Saturday evening at the Kodiak Island Fairgrounds. (Derek Clarkston photo)
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Jaron Steele throws a punch at Colten Goracke in a mixed martial arts fight at “Rumble on the Rock” Saturday at the Kodiak Island Fairgrounds. (Derek Clarkston photo)
Jaron Steele throws a punch at Colten Goracke in a mixed martial arts fight at “Rumble on the Rock” Saturday at the Kodiak Island Fairgrounds. (Derek Clarkston photo)
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Ernie Berestoff looks up to Julien Harris in a fight at “Rumble on the Rock” Saturday at the Kodiak Island Fairgrounds. (Derek Clarkston photo)
Ernie Berestoff looks up to Julien Harris in a fight at “Rumble on the Rock” Saturday at the Kodiak Island Fairgrounds. (Derek Clarkston photo)
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Ryan Sharratt talks to Darlene Sene. (Derek Clarkston photo)
Ryan Sharratt talks to Darlene Sene. (Derek Clarkston photo)
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Nearly 1,000 people packed the pavilion at the Kodiak Island Fairgrounds to watch "Rumble on the Rock" Saturday evening. (Derek Clarkston photo)
Nearly 1,000 people packed the pavilion at the Kodiak Island Fairgrounds to watch "Rumble on the Rock" Saturday evening. (Derek Clarkston photo)
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A fan takes a photo of a match at the "Rumble on the Rock" with his phone Saturday at the Kodiak Island Fairgrounds. (Derek Clarkston photo)
A fan takes a photo of a match at the "Rumble on the Rock" with his phone Saturday at the Kodiak Island Fairgrounds. (Derek Clarkston photo)
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Moments after Waylon Soptick won his professional mixed martial arts fight at “Rumble on the Rock” he got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend of two years, Taylor Decker.

She said “yes,” and the two celebrated the engagement with a hug and a kiss in front of nearly 1,000 people packed inside the Kodiak Island Fairgrounds pavilion.

“First I wanted to do it in the cage, but I didn’t think I would get the courage to do it, but after my victory, I said, ‘I’m doing it,’” Soptick said.

The win was Soptick’s fourth straight after losing his debut match in October. It’s a victory he will remember forever.

But, what was better — her saying yes or winning the fight?

“I will plead the Fifth on that,” he said.

Decker was on the edge of her seat throughout Soptick’s fight that ended in the second round of a three-round match. She was surprised by what came next.

“I was completely speechless,” she said. “I was not expecting it. I came up here just to see his fight.”

Decker lives near Anchorage, while Soptick, from Big Lake, has been working on the Coast Guard base in Kodiak for the last two months.

The two met in Missouri, and she moved to Alaska to be near Soptick.

“It was love at first sight, pretty much,” Decker said.

Soptick, a former star running back at Houston High School, made quick work of his opponent, Brandy Goracke. He said his judo training with Ryan Sharratt paid off in the cage. He received $500 for his victory.

“I knew it was going to the ground,” he said. “I would have preferred it not to, but he made sure it did. If I hadn’t have been trained by Ryan, it would have been a totally different ballgame.”

While the proposal was the most memorable moment of “Rumble on the Rock,” Jaron Steele’s match against Colten Goracke (3-1) was the most exciting.

Steele, a 2005 Kodiak High School graduate, had the entire arena on his side, but fell to Goracke, a state champion wrestler from Soldotna, by unanimous decision.

Steele (0-1) came out hesitant in his first fight and found himself on his back for most of the three-minute opening-round. He came alive in the next two rounds and possibly could have won or sent the match to sudden death if not for being docked a point for an illegal elbow blow in the third round after being warned by the official.

Afterwards, Steele was just proud of how he represented his hometown in the first MMA event to come to the island.

“The whole crowd definitely pumps you up to a whole new level,” Steele said. “It is too bad that they deducted a point. I never heard a warning … I’m not beat down about a loss. I would have loved for my first fight to go the other way, but a close fight was not too bad.”

In the other two professional fights, Julien Harris (3-0) defeated Ernie Berestoff (0-1) and Victor Rodriquez (4-1) took down Josh Bell (2-4).

Before the professionals took the cage, locals participated in six amateur fights that all ended in the second round.

Ethan Barker, a 2009 KHS graduate, defeated Samuel Malutin in the first round. Barker went to his back early, but rebounded quickly, as Malutin called it before it went to the second round.

“It was intense,” Barker said. “You have all your vibes going off and you’re nervous. It was a new thing to do and a new a sport. I had the best coaches that I could ever have with Sean (Costello) and Tyler (McGillivray). They kept boosting my confidence.”

Gabriel Saravia, a 2011 KHS graduate, used a barrage of thunderous leg kicks to take down Steven Victor in the second round.

Saravia fought in Anchorage several years ago, but hasn’t stepped in the cage since then. He played to the crowd, and raised his arms several times during the fight.

“That is my main importance, is the crowds happiness,” he said. “If the crowd is happy, it makes me want to perform even better.”

Kris Cunanan, a 2011 KHS graduate and former football player, defeated Josh Goss in the first round.

Cunanan is in the Army and stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington. He arrived in Kodiak on Monday and decided to sign up for the fight.

“I love competition and have always competed my whole life,” he said. “It is just an amazing feeling and it is great that Kodiak is doing this. It brings out more fans and gives people something else to do other than Crab Fest.”

In other matches, Wayne Vincent defeated Jomer Abalanza, Sam Loggins beat Seraphim Stapelton and Anchorage-based fighter Adrianna Newberry defeated Darlene Sene.

Robert Couture, owner of Kenai Peninsula-based 6 or 5 Times Productions, brought the event to Kodiak. The cage was ferried in, along with the professional fighters.

“The fighters really brought it and I was very impressed with some of the amateurs,” Couture said.

Contact Derek Clarkston at sports@kodiakdailymirror.com.

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