Mixed-martial arts began its 2017 run with Fightforce?s Great Falls Rumble at the Heritage Inn in front of about 750 people Friday night.
The event was also an opportunity for fighters and fans to give to a good cause. Fightforce donated proceeds from merchandise sales to the ?Do it for Love? charity, supporting 4-year-old Raegan Love who was diagnosed with leukemia in October of 2016.
Fighter Tommy McMillen?s girlfriend is Raegan?s aunt.
?I got to hang out with Raegan a little bit this summer,? McMillen said after his fight. ?It broke my heart when I heard the news so I wanted to do a little something; as much as I could to help.?
McMillen defeated Butte?s Brandon Brisbo to win the Fightforce 155-lb. title belt. McMillen grappled with Brisbo for most of the fight before locking in a rear naked choke in the second round.
?I?m pretty excited to win,? McMillen said. ?This was a step on my path, a test that I just passed.?
The main event was a professional fight between Great Falls favorite Gage Saunders and Kyle Campbell who fights out of Missoula.
The midcard started with an MMA matchup between Koda Greenwood from Eureka and Great Falls? Erik Sturchio.
Sturchio used his extra three inches to his advantage with a front kick that kept Greenwood away.
?I guess I have strong legs from being an infantry doorkicker,? Sturchio said.
Greenwood did manage to get in close enough to tag Sturchio for a knockdown, but Sturchio rallied for a knockout win.
?I mean, I knew if I didn?t get back up he?d just beat the (tar) out of me,? Sturchio said after his victory.
The midcard also featured a title fight for the Fightforce lightweight Muy Thai belt. Canadian Cody Jerome squared off against Ryan Ibsen of Great Falls.
Jerome combined a flurry of gloved fists and furious feet for an assault that Ibsen couldn?t weather. Jerome won via TKO in the first round and became the new Fightforce champion.
The undercard featured a handful of MMA bouts and two kickboxing matches.
The highlight of the undercard was the MMA matchup between Shane McClure and John Robertson, both from Great Falls.
Robertson sprawled into a takedown defense, quickly gained side control into full mount, and proceeded to ground and pound to earn a win just 38 seconds into the fight.
Punekwa Vielle of Blackfeet Nation defeated Great Falls? Cody Bautista via TKO in the third round.
Great Falls? Ryan Scottfree and James Dyson squared off in an MMA match. Scottfree scored a huge takedown in the first which led to him raining blows down upon Dyson for the win.
The final undercard match was a heavyweight kickboxing clash between Eduardo Fernandez of Great Falls and Lethbridge?s Adam Urabnczyk.
Both big men went the distance, trading heavy hands through three rounds. Fernandez prevailed, winning a split decision victory.
The night began with a kickboxing match between Butte?s Andrew Huckeby and Marshall Sutherland of Great Falls. Huckeby won a split decision after three rounds.