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A spirit that is not afraid

Auburn Fight Night gets in the ring

Though the barn-like venue hardly compared to the UFC stadiums seen on television with cushioned seats and bikini-bearing ring girls, it proved sufficient for those looking for an exciting Saturday night.

People gathered at the Auburn covered arena Saturday night for Auburn Fight Night, which was comprised of eight separate Mixed Martial Arts fights.

Mixed Martial Arts is a sport in which fighters can punch, kick and wrestle with few inhibiting rules.

As fraternity members hovered around the chain-linked cage and paying attendees sat around tables and on bleachers, fighters came out one by one.

The first seven fights were full of big hits, a few knock outs and several bloody noses.

Amanda Yarns, a junior in communication disorders, said she enjoyed all the fights.

"The first fight where one of the guys was gushing out blood was one of the most exciting," Yarns said.

The anticipation built throughout the first fights for the real spectacle for which most waited impatiently -- the eighth fight.

Kyle Maynard, a 23-year-old from Suwanee, Ga., was scheduled to appear in his first professional MMA fight against Bryan Fry.

Maynard may seem like an average fighter when first delving into his biography. He wrestled in high school and attended the University of Georgia.

What sets him apart is a condition which make him unable to compete in his home state.

Maynard was born with congenital amputation. His legs end at his knees and his arms at his elbows.

He was barred from competing in Georgia by the Georgia Athletic Commission because of his disability, but since Alabama has no such commission, he was able to make his fighting debut in Auburn.

Maynard, who won the 2004 ESPY award for Best Athlete with a Disability, was carried on a helper's back though a cheering crowd and into the cage ready to meet his opponent, Bryan Fry.

Fry was not revealed as Maynard's opponent until the night of the fight to avoid criticism for competing against Maynard.

Maynard lost the fight to Fry, who, in many attendees' opinion, was in a lose-lose situation.

"If Fry wins, he loses, because he beat up somebody who has a disability" said Mike Bradley, an Auburn resident who attended the fight. "If he loses, he really loses."

Fry's strategy was to remain at a distance from Maynard, dodging his charges and never allowing him to actually wrestle. Though quick and scrappy, Maynard was unable to move past Fry's few jabs.

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It was not a night of solely blood and guts, however, but one of charity as well.

Sigma Pi fraternity used the event as the spring fundraiser for their philanthropy, the American Cancer Society.

Sigma Pi brothers spent April selling Fight Night tickets on the Concourse. A portion of the money from the tickets they sold goes to the American Cancer Society.

The fraternity's philanthropy chair Allen Stroud said he got the idea to partner with Fight Night after talking to promoter David Oblas, who is a Sigma Pi alumnus.

A junior in business, Stroud said he and other Sigma Pi brothers had the opportunity to talk to Maynard last week.

"It was really cool to ask him questions one on one," Stroud said. "We were able to see what was going on in his head. It was really cool to hear him talk about how he wanted to do it not to prove to other people that he could, but to himself."

Nick Davis attended the fights and agreed that Maynard was inspirational.

"The willpower and endurance Kyle showed is a message to all of us," Davis said.

The night ended with a performance from the band Hightide Blues.

Overall, fight night, the philanthropy and Hightide blues combined for a successful night, and the crowd enjoyed it.

"The night was surreal," Davis said. "The atmosphere was intense and being down next to the ring was a whole new experience."

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